Partners in the social capital survey expect the information to do more than gather dust. They expect to put the information gleaned to use.
Larry Lundblad, Central Lakes College president, said the college benefits from the study by gaining a community overview with demographic background on the region.
"Info from this survey just helps us to better understand the region and the area we serve," Lundblad said. "That is expected to help in providing a sense of who the students are and in marketing the college."
Lundblad said the survey reinforced CLC's decision to reinvigorate its service learning community outreach program, which engages students in the region. Students work with Habitat for Humanity, dental outreach or assist people with income tax filing. A classroom component has students reflecting on their experiences. Lundblad said that experience is then integrated into how students view the community. And it ties into developing habits for community involvement as students graduate and choose to stay here.
Students walked in the commons area at Central Lakes College in Brainerd Thursday. Central Lakes College President Larry Lundblad said the social capital survey reinforces CLC's decision to reinvigorate its service learning community outreach program where students are actively involved in the community outside the college campus.Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Lundblad said the results pointing to a high degree of volunteerism here are something CLC can tie into with the service learning initiative.
As a relatively recent resident of the area, Lundblad said the information in the survey is borne out by his experience as well.
"There is a good cohesiveness within the community," he said, adding he was surprised at the strength of the service clubs here.
The survey found a fairly high percentage of people have had people of another race in their home. As CLC becomes more diverse, Lundblad said that information and the high level of trust many people have for different groups of people is good to know.
Mike Burton, Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation affiliate coordinator, which started the ball rolling for the survey, said the idea came together after several community events began forming a link.
"Part of our mission is to build community," Burton said. "We look at ways to support nonprofits and to connect donors with needs in the community."
The foundation added guidelines to its grant applications to support projects with components for social capital and bridging social capital in order to stay focused on those needs and assist groups and nonprofits in that work.
Burton said examples include work with donors to fund Spirit of Hope, which gathers resources and provides program funding for Bridges of Hope and the Salvation Army to provide direct service assistance to individuals.
Examples of bridging social capital may come from a connection from seemingly diverse groups such as youth and seniors. Ongoing research this spring will look at a group identified as having less social capital in the area - young underemployed people - and design projects aimed at helping them grow in community connections.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.