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News Release

Date: March 17, 2006
Media Contact: Steve Simon, 301-251-7952 or Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970

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Montgomery College Students Can Earn Awards for “Civic Engagement”
New Program Sponsored by Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement

Montgomery College students who participate in civic engagement activities – such as organizing voter registration drives or volunteering for non-profit organizations – will have the opportunity to earn special awards from the College’s Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement. Paul Peck, the institute’s founder and benefactor, was joined by Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan in announcing the program at a kickoff event today at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus.

Through the new awards program, supported by a donation from Mr. Peck to the Montgomery College Foundation, MC students will have the opportunity to earn either a Gold or Silver Civic Engagement Award for their civic engagement activities. This can include their work as volunteers or in minimally compensated roles, such as internships. Also eligible to apply for these awards are Montgomery College alumni who may have graduated the previous year.

Eligible activities may include such efforts as coordinating voter registration campaigns, serving as election judges, volunteering for non-profit organizations, working on political campaigns or awareness efforts, or interning within the public policy arena. Gold awards would go to students who complete at least 120 hours of involvement in civic engagement activities and include a monetary award of $150 each. Silver awards, for at least 60 hours of service, could earn students a monetary award of $75. Applicants are expected to submit an essay of 500-700 words to explain the tasks they performed and how they relate to American principles or values, freedom, and participatory democracy.

“Freedom is life, and freedom is rooted in democracy,” said Peck, in addressing the goal of the Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement. “We cannot have democracy if we do not get people involved in civic action. Without civic action, our community life will continue to decline. It’s my hope that programs such as this will help to engage many more young people in the civic process."

“My life has long been rooted in a deep commitment to public service and a strong belief in the importance of fully engaging individuals in the civic process – at the local, state and national levels,” said County Executive Duncan. “Montgomery County is an extraordinary place in so many respects, but we know that it works best when our residents are involved in the community and in the civic process. I applaud Montgomery College and Paul Peck for launching this effort to recognize students who participate in these endeavors.”

The Paul Peck Civic Engagement Awards program is being coordinated by the Office of Student Life on the three campuses of Montgomery College, at Germantown, Rockville and at Takoma Park/Silver Spring, which is the home campus of the Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement.

To learn more about the Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement at Montgomery College, contact Dr. Francine Jamin, Institute director, at 301-650-1385 or visit www.montgomerycollege.edu/departments/americanculture.

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Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md. The College serves more than 55,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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