Annual Awards

PICCE recognizes outstanding faculty and community partners each year, highlighting impact and innovation in our community.  We showcase community partners for their excellence in partnering with institutions of higher education, the service as co-educators of college students, and their creativity in developing projects and research to involve students in solving real-world problems.  We also honor faculty from regional institutions of higher education for their commitment to community-based learning and their excellence in research that addresses the critical needs in our region.

To nominate a community partner for a 2017-18 award , click here.

Community Partner Awards


Impact Award

The Impact Award recognizes an innovative program of community engagement, bringing universities, students, faculty and staff to support our community in a novel and effective manner.

In 2016-17, Spokane experienced an unanticipated mumps outbreak that affected more than 250 residents in our region. As the outbreak spread, Nick Bruck, a pharmacist and district pharmacy manager with Walgreens, took the initiative to collaborate with Washington State University College of Pharmacy students. Nick donated his time and skills to help WSU College of Pharmacy students organize clinical teams that would provide MMR vaccinations at schools, community centers, and other locations. Overall, Nick's collaboration with Tram Huong, a third-year WSU College of Pharmacy student, allowed 64 pharmacy students to conduct 17 immunization clinics across Spokane during January and February 2017. At one clinic, students documented administering 294 vaccines. Without Nick’s initiative and commitment to advancing WSU College of Pharmacy students' learning, students would have not had this hands-on experience that helped them realize the public health impact they can make as future pharmacists. Nick’s swift action also ensured that families in need had ready access to vaccines right in their neighborhoods.  Nick also serves as a mentor in the WSU College of Pharmacy’s Alumni and Student Mentor Program. Additionally, he volunteers his time to assist with the college’s pharmacy admission interviews and serves on the WSU College of Pharmacy Dean’s Advisory Council.  Just last year, Nick delivered the keynote addresses at both Spokane and Yakima pharmacy white coat ceremonies.  PICCE is honored to recognize Nick Bruck for his contribution to our region’s public health and for his commitment to students of pharmacy in our region.


Mentor of the Year

The Mentor of the Year Award recognizes an individual community partner for his/her excellence in advancing students’ learning and facilitating meaningful outcomes for our community.

Mike Helmberger of WorkSource Spokane works directly with community college students in Spokane to place them in job shadowing and volunteer opportunities that translate their learning into real-world success.  Mike takes the time to research the academic needs of departments and the professional needs of employers.  He then designs experiences for students that help them to discern their career path, gain employment and make a meaningful difference for their partner organization.  In his short time at the Community Colleges of Spokane, Mike has developed placements for the Addiction Studies Program, for Automotive Studies and for other classes.  In addition to placements, Mike connects students with financial literacy classes, job fairs and needed personal supports to address secondary trauma experienced through work in social services.  Mike has even developed special events, like the “Industry Challenge” in Automotive Studies, bringing employers to SCC to watch second-year students demonstrate their skills.  100% of students in Automotive Studies have been placed in jobs this past year, some winning job offers right at the Industry Challenge event.  Mike’s colleagues at WorkSource praise his student referrals, noting that his preparation of students makes them the easiest clients to place in jobs.  Mike’s students appreciate his accessibility, caring and endless enthusiasm.  Whether answering texts on weekends, chatting with students about work/life balance, or checking in with the scores of students during their job placements, Mike conveys to students that they matter.  PICCE is pleased to recognize Mike Helmberger for his service to community college students and to employers across Spokane.


Community Partner of the Year

The Community Partner of the Year Award recognizes an agency in our community that has partnered with universities at multiple levels, including service-learning, Community-Based Research, place-based initiatives, and reciprocal service.

The 2017 Community Partner of the Year Award is presented to Liberty Park Child Development Center.  Under the direction of Spencer Grainger, Liberty Park has excelled in partnering with campuses across Spokane.  The center has engaged students and faculty from all PICCE institutions--Gonzaga, Whitworth, WSU College of Nursing, EWU, Moody Bible Institute, and Spokane Falls Community College.  Center staff have invested their time and expertise in supervising students in direct service, as well as project-based learning and community-based research.  With their guidance, graduate students have designed and taught an ESL course for adult refugees and immigrants.  Undergraduates have planned and organized an annual fundraising event, created an administrative calendar, and served as after-school mentors in a faith-based, drop-in program for youth from Grant Elementary.  Nursing students have provided health screenings.  And dental hygienists have engaged children in personal care activities to reinforce daily brushing after meals.  In all these partnerships, Liberty Park’s staff have supported learning outcomes for students in higher-ed equally with their own goals of seeing the kids and families of the South Perry district flourish.  At every campus in Spokane, faculty look to Liberty Park as a co-educator of their students.  PICCE is proud to recognize Spencer Grainger, Executive Director at Liberty Park, and Dr. Mark Killian, President of the Board of Directors at Liberty Park and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Whitworth University.


Lasting Legacy Award

The Lasting Legacy Award recognizes individuals in our community whose professional work to bring campus constituents into service transcends a job description.  The award honors a deeply personal commitment to grow the minds of students and leverage strong partnerships.

Janice Marich, Spokane County United Way, has been critical to the successful linkage of campuses and the Spokane Gives initiative.  Janice has been involved with Spokane Gives since its inception.  Through her leadership, the City of Spokane and the Spokane County United Way have partnered to create the website, a portal that has successfully connected more than 6,800 Spokane residents with volunteer opportunities since 2014.  Starting in 2016, Janice worked with PICCE to convene area campuses and their student leadership with my office to engage college students in Spokane Gives month.  In that year, campuses increased their volunteer participation by 20%, collectively providing nearly 22,000 service hours to our city.  But her impact goes well beyond Spokane Gives.  Under Janice’s leadership of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Spokane has benefitted from the first ever university funded VISTA volunteers serving directly in communities of need.  Her innovation has allowed campuses to invest directly in capacity building in our neighborhoods.  Beyond VISTA, Janice has worked to broaden participation in volunteer service to Spokane’s youth, supporting the Youth United program to sponsor mini-grants to youth-led service projects, many of them happening this month as our schools pause for Spring Break.  In Janice’s vision, volunteer service should start young and create habits that last a lifetime.

Faculty Awards

excellence in community based teaching and learning

Excellence in Community-Based Teaching and Learning

The Award for Excellence in Community-Based Teaching and Learning recognizes a scholarly presentation at the 2016 Community Engagement Institute that was distinguished by its innovation and effectiveness in the application of community-based teaching and learning.

Dr. Lesli Cleveland, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Eastern Washington University, was selected by the faculty peer-review board of PICCE for excellence in community-based learning for her presentation entitled, “Service-Learning in a Kindergarten Literacy Project.”  The review board specifically applauded Dr. Cleveland’s involvement of her school partners.  The community helped to identify the need for the program and the design of the literacy screening process which her students implemented.  By involving her partners throughout the life of the project, Dr. Cleveland modeled reciprocity, helping her students to see that community can work with the academy to create positive impact.

excellence in community based research

Excellence in Community-Based Research

The Award for Excellence in Community-Based Research recognizes a scholarly presentation at the 2016 Community Engagement Institute for the strength of its application of disciplinary expertise to a critical issue facing the community.

Dr. Gina Mikel Petrie, Professor of Modern Languages and Literature at Eastern Washington University, was recognized by the faculty peer-review board of PICCE for excellence in community-engaged scholarship.  The peer-review board highlighted her well-rounded approach to community change, grounded in scholarly literature and creative in its involvement of multiple partners. Dr. Petrie’s presentation at the 2016 Community engagement Institute, “Toward Sustainable, Effective Service: Creating a Consortium,” details how university scholars can take the lead to involve multiple groups in addressing the needs of P-12 English-language learners, leveraging university resources to advance community goals for immigrant and refugee populations.

Nominations for Awards

We invite faculty, staff and students at area institutions of higher education to nominate individuals or organizations in any of the following categories:

Impact Award: our annual award to recognize a new partnership, program or initiative bringing higher education and community partners together to make significant impact on critical issues facing Spokane.  Nominations in this category may focus on innovative service-learning, community-based research, philanthropy, or project-based work that creates a significant and demonstrable community impact while advancing knowledge creation and the greater good.

Mentor of the Year Award: this annual award recognizes a specific community leader who, in partnership with higher education, has advanced the learning of students, the research of faculty or the capacity of campuses to have an impact on the local community.  The recipient of the award is a co-educator and community scholar of practice in the fullest sense.

Community Partner of the Year: an award to recognize an agency or organization whose partnerships with Spokane campuses achieve a depth and breadth of collaboration and reciprocity.  Recipient organizations are typically a part of the learning, volunteerism, philanthropy and scholarship of multiple campuses, and they invest their time in both their mission as well as knowledge creation for community impact.

To nominate a community partner for a 2017-18 award , click here.

We will present the awards on Wednesday, 10 April 2018, at 5 PM at the WSU U-District location.  Check back soon for more details on this event.