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Standing Strong, Together Community Impact Report for 2019–2020


This year is unlike any I’ve experienced during my tenure at Wheaton. But, despite the challenges brought on by a global pandemic, I have hope. Why? Because if there is anything I’ve learned during these times, it is that we can count on the enduring strength of community.

Other reasons I’m optimistic: Wheaton Community Council, a group of community and business leaders that actively identify opportunities for collaboration, continues to forge ahead. The council met virtually in the spring to discuss how we could work together to support each other and the community at a time when it was truly needed. One way that Wheaton College has stepped up is by sharing our resources with workers responding to COVID-19 at Sturdy Memorial Hospital. As the number of coronavirus cases climbed in Massachusetts earlier this year, we donated gloves, gowns, masks and other personal protective equipment to the hospital, and also offered housing in our residence hall to medical personnel unable to return home. This report is a celebration of Wheaton’s special relationship with Norton and our surrounding towns—one that we hold dear. We are proud of our ongoing engagement with local businesses, nonprofits and municipalities. As we begin to come out of this, it’s more important than ever for us to collaborate and stay connected. Let’s continue that work.

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A snapshot of Wheaton

• Founded: 1834

• Population: 1,775 students from 40 U.S. states and 60 countries • Residential: 96 percent of students live on campus • Majors and minors: 100+

• Study abroad: 100+ study abroad programs in 50+ countries • Student activities: 100+

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Investment that stays local

Wheaton College, situated in the heart of Norton, is intricately tied to the communities of southeastern Massachusetts. In 2019, the college: • Contributed $944,197 in property taxes and other fees to Norton

• Employed about 550 employees, more than half of whom live within 30 minutes of campus • Purchased $3,450,727 in goods and services from Bristol County businesses • Offered a variety of lectures, art exhibitions and music performances to the public at no cost • Donated countless hours of service to local schools and nonprofit organizations

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A helping hand

As part of the community, Wheaton College supports local nonprofit and municipal organizations with the dedicated service of volunteers each year. This academic year, that translated into: • 840 hours of community service through the college’s Center for Social Justice and Community Impact

• Participation in service projects, including the President’s Day of Service, the Norton Halloween Parade, Thanksgiving service opportunities and 9/11 Days of Service

• $7,193 of in-kind and monetary donations from the college community for Wheaton’s Head Start Holiday Party, which provided gifts to local children

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Community partners • Attleboro YMCA

• Norton Middle School • Norton High School

• Wheaton Tutor Outreach Program • Norton Town Clerk

• Norton Select Board

• Norton Parks and Recreation Department • Edith Reed Conservation

• National Black Doll Museum • Norton Head Start • Norton VFW

• Cupboard of Kindness

• Attleboro Area Interfaith Collaborative, Food n’ Friends • Norton Veterans’ Services • Nine Lives Cat Shelter

• Crystal Springs Earth Learning Center • The ARC of Northern Bristol County

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In the community: Unpacking lessons from Tanzania “Hello” in Swahili is habari and “thank you” is asante sana.

The students (wanafunzi) at Norton Middle School learned these words and much more as they took a virtual trip to Tanzania from their auditorium seats in November 2019, courtesy of Wheaton College students who visited, studied and taught in the country last spring.

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The college students presented slides, photos and video clips on a large screen and took turns sharing information about the month they spent in Tanzania as part of Professor of Anthropology Donna Kerner’s “Tanzania: Education and Development” course.

More than 200 Norton students attended the presentation, which unpacked facts about the country—such as that Tanzania has 120 ethnic groups, 58 million people, several major geographic wonders of the world (including Mount Kilimanjaro) and that it is known for its bananas. Students also learned about the animals that Wheaton students saw, the hospitals and laboratories they visited, the daily life of the families with which they stayed and the classrooms where they taught English.

Since 2011, Wheaton and Norton Middle School have partnered on this event as part of Africa Day. The day includes a session in which handwritten letters from Tanzanian students describing their lives are shared with Norton students, who in turn use their laptops to type letters about their lives to send back. Sixth grade geography students and teachers also hold a fundraiser in conjunction with this event. The funds are given to the next group of Wheaton students going on the faculty-led trip to purchase sports equipment and school supplies for the Tanzanian schools where they teach.

“We celebrated the ninth year of the Wheaton-inTanzania program this year. It’s a nice towncollege-global-village partnership,” said Kerner, who accompanied her Wheaton students at the presentation. Norton sixth grade geography teacher Barbara Nado agreed. “The sixth graders study ‘World Geography’ and learn about many regions around the world. Hearing about direct experiences in Tanzania from the Wheaton College students is a great real-life connection for our students. Over the years, many students have told me it’s one of their favorite school days of the year,” she said.

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In the community: Wheaton, Mass Audubon host high school summit Wheaton students took a central role in helping to run the college’s first Youth Climate Action Summit, which brought together 120 students from three area high schools to discuss environmental issues and develop action plans for their schools.

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The summit, held at Wheaton in November 2019, was organized by Mass Audubon’s Stony Brook (Norfolk), Moose Hill (Sharon) and Oak Knoll (Attleboro) wildlife sanctuaries, in partnership with Wheaton. Students from King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, Sharon High School and Attleboro High School participated. After a welcome by Provost Renée White and a keynote address by Youth Climate Coach Denali Kikuchi, the high school students divided into groups led by Wheaton students to discuss topics selected by the high schoolers through a survey. Conversations focused on involvement in local government and climate strikes, plastic pollution, vehicle technologies, recycling and waste management, habitat protection, and climate change and public health.

Assistant Professor of Biology Jessie Knowlton, who has worked closely with Stony Brook Director Doug Williams, helped organize the event and recruit and train Wheaton students.

“Young people are some of the most motivated to take action on climate change—and they are so smart and creative they can really make a difference,” Knowlton said. “I also wanted to give my Wheaton students the chance to practice taking the lead on these discussions and to have the opportunity to motivate the younger students.” Williams said Mass Audubon has conducted similar youth action summits around the state and that Wheaton seemed like “the perfect partner” for this program.

“One thing I was really impressed with was how skilled the Wheaton students were at facilitating these breakout sessions,” Williams said. “The high school students were engaged, interested and willing to speak their minds, which led to a really cogent discussion.” Williams sat in on a conversation with a group of King Philip students who wanted to focus on eliminating plastic water bottles in their school by ending the sale of bottles on campus and installing a hydration station. They discussed how to raise funds and developed a timeline. Another group of students wanted to advocate for making environmental science mandatory for every student at their high school, Williams said.

“We thought it turned out really well in being able to bring these issues to the fore, with both high school and college students,” he said of the summit. “We’re very enthusiastic about doing it again.”

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Entrepreneurship at work

Wheaton College is dedicated to promoting social entrepreneurship education and social innovation within the liberal arts. As part of that commitment, Wheaton’s business and management program offers real-world consulting projects and immersive learning experiences—including many that take place within the local community.

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This year, Wheaton students partnered with the following businesses to develop marketing plans, and more: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

B.Good Mansfield Bio-Incubator Cold Stone Creamery ERY Pet Portraits Juice on Main Kelly’s Place Marathon Sports Next Movement Training & Performance Nico and Vines Collection Personal Best Charity Personal Best Karate Swamp Donkeys Ice Cream Thai Orchid Tasty’s Bagels White’s Bakery & Cafe

Doing good business

In March 2020, President Dennis Hanno and a team of staff and student mentors visited Norton High School to talk good business. The team guided high school students on the task of developing an actionable plan from business ideas they developed related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This seminar was modeled after weeklong youth entrepreneurship seminars President Hanno organizes in different parts of the world.

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Making your business our business

Wheaton College invests in Norton and our surrounding communities through our most coveted resource: the imagination, dedication and brainpower of students.

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Wheaton scholarships enable students to participate in funded internships and other experiential learning opportunities at local businesses, nonprofits and government agencies. The result is a true win-win: local institutions and companies benefit from the energy and skills of Wheaton students, who in turn gain real-world experience that helps poise them for success after college. Just this year, Wheaton students have participated in internships at: • • • • • • • • • • •

Attleboro Arts Museum City of Taunton’s Assessor’s Office Hockomock Area YMCA Marathon Physical Therapy Land Preservation Society of Norton New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance New Hope Reach and Rise Southwick’s Zoo Theresa M. Smith, CNP, Private Practice Total Achievement

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Spotlight on Wheaton

Ranked among the top 50 U.S. liberal arts colleges by Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal Placed among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the U.S. (82nd) and also was named a “Best Value School” in the U.S News and World Report’s 2020 Best Colleges rankings Named one of the “Top 200 Best Value Colleges” and among the top 20 for “Best Science Lab Facilities” and “Lots of Race/Class Interaction” in The Princeton Review  Earned a spot among the top 15 of the Great Value Colleges’ list of U.S. colleges and universities with the “50 Best Maker Spaces”

Profile for Wheaton College

Standing Strong, Together  

Community Impact Report for 2019-2020

Standing Strong, Together  

Community Impact Report for 2019-2020

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