Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is assembling a new state commission for civic engagement — with one of its first members coming from Western Massachusetts. Alan Bloomgarden directs the community based learning program at Mount Holyoke College . He's a strong advocate for combining public service and higher education, sending college students to work in stressed communities and offering faculty expertise to address community problems. Bloomgarden says the new commission extends Governor Patrick's campaign promise to promote community service across the state — which began with the creation of the Commonwealth Corps in 2007. Bloomgarden says he hopes the new state panel will promote cooperation between nonprofit agencies, regional governments, and colleges and universities.
"I think looking at ways that public private partnerships can address issues that have previously soley been the domain of grant making organizations or federal funding agencies which have struggled with resources in recent years. Civic engagment is an umbrella term meant to help form new partnerships meant to address those resource challenges."
Bloomgarden says the full commission for civic engagement will eventually include 25 to 30 educators, community leaders, and state officials.