The First of Its Kind

Clinton Global Initiative University at BerkeleyThis spring, the Public Service Center received two honors. UC Berkeley was honored to be chosen as the site of the 2015–2016 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), recognizing Berkeley’s historic role as a leader in student-initiated public service. The Public Service Center partnered with the Blum Center to support the campus in planning a comprehensive one-day service event, which took place on April 3 in Oakland. More than 1,200 students worked alongside community groups to plant trees, organize libraries, design and paint murals, and experience first-hand the transformational work of public service. Former President Clinton told students at the day of action, “Change begins one person, one place, one community at a time.”

In May, the Public Service Center’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) was recognized with the Chancellor’s Award for Public Service in the category of Student Organization for Civic Engagement. VITA provides financial education and assists low-income families in filing their income taxes. This year VITA also launched the Financial Literacy and Economic Justice Conference on April 17, which, in the words of VITA’s co-director, Alex Mabanta, is “the very first student-oriented, student-organized financial-literacy conference of its kind nationally.” The conference provided financial literacy training to students on campus, and the keynote address was given by California State Controller Betty Yee. In recognizing the outstanding work of the award recipients, Chancellor Dirks called public service “our goal, our mission, and our identity.”