Community Engagement News

Community Engagement News

October 4, 2021


Founders’ Day Of Service Projects Will Demonstrate Place-Based Emphasis Of Community Engagement

Registration For November 6 Event Is Underway

Founders’ Week 2021 is November 6–12. Founders’ Day of Service marks the beginning of the annual celebration. The main project will be implemented in La Paloma.

Neighborhood beautification and school upkeep are among the projects planned for the third annual Barry Founders’ Day of Service. The service projects will “demonstrate attention to place-based community engagement,” the organizers say.

Founders’ Day of Service—Saturday, November 6—signals the start of Founders’ Week 2021. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members will serve mainly in La Paloma, the neighborhood adjacent to Barry’s Miami Shores campus. They will assist with neighborhood beautification, school upkeep, and other projects coordinated by the Center for Community Service Initiatives (CCSI). 

Founders’ Week honors the spirit of Barry’s founders, the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and celebrates a longstanding tradition.

In a statement about Founders’ Week, the Office of Mission Engagement said, “Through service, scholarly, and joyful events, we highlight the University’s faithfulness to our motto—‘Learn, Reflect, Serve’—and build connections that unite students, faculty, and staff for generations to come.” 

Founders’ Day of Service is the second major service event at Barry for the 2021–2022 academic year. The first was International Coastal Cleanup Day, September 18.

The Community Engagement Strategic Plan for 2021–2026 calls for the adoption of a place-based approach to community engagement within an “anchor institution” framework. This approach requires a long-term institutional commitment to mutually beneficially campus–community partnerships, with emphasis on clearly defined geographic areas. 

A focus on place-based initiatives is expected to contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhoods near the university’s main campus in Miami Shores. 

Volunteer registration for Founders’ Day of Service is underway. For further information, contact the CCSI at

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Remembering Dr. Steffano Montano

Former Service-Learning Coordinator Helped To Advance Community Engagement At Barry

By Glenn Bowen

Steffano Montano made significant contributions to the institutionalization of community engagement at Barry University. And he was the second person to receive the Community Engagement Educator Award, presented on behalf of the university by the Center for Community Service Initiatives (CCSI).

Dr. Montano died on September 24 at age 37. He had been hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, following complications from a double lung transplant that he received last year.

“Steffano has contributed much to the success of Barry’s community engagement strategy,” said the citation for the 2015 Community Engagement Educator Award. “As a service-learning coordinator, he has played an important role in building community partnerships, placing students at community sites, and leading faculty development workshops.”

The citation praised the “professionalism and enthusiasm” he demonstrated in his work as the service-learning coordinator for the Department of Theology and Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Montano was also an instructor for Theology 201—Theology: Faiths, Beliefs, and Traditions—the designated service-learning course with the largest number of sections, faculty, and students. He was also the department’s community engagement liaison with the CCSI.

He began his career at Barry in 2009 in the Office of Campus Ministry, where he served as coordinator of the De Porres Center for Community Service. In 2013, he became a departmental service-learning coordinator.

In academic year 2013–2014, Montano was a member of Barry’s Carnegie Community Engagement Task Force. The 15-member group prepared documentation for Barry’s application for the community engagement elective classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which Barry attained in 2015. 

“So young, smart, vibrant!” said Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD, president emerita and founding director of the Adrian Dominican Institute for Mission and Leadership. “A faith-filled, committed, and well-loved colleague,” she added.

Steffano Montano was coordinator of service-learning in the Department of Theology and Philosophy.

Steffano Montano (third from left) was the winner of the Community Engagement Educator Award in 2015. He was recognized for “significant contributions to the institutionalization of community engagement at Barry University.”

Montano’s commitment to promoting social justice through community engagement was strong and unwavering. 

During his last year at Barry (2014–2015), Montano was the moderator of a deliberative dialogue on human trafficking. And he assisted with the coordination of Alternative Spring Break 2015, which saw students serving in Immokalee, the farmworker hub in southwestern Florida.

After the miracle of his lung transplant in August 2020, he continued to face a number of health challenges including lymphoma, the rigor of chemotherapy, and then a virus that weakened his immune system. 

Dr. Steffano Montano is survived by his spouse, Christina Leaño, the first associate director of the CCSI; their 8-year-old daughter, Malaya; and other relatives. 

Community-Engaged Scholarship

While at Barry, Montano contributed to community-engaged scholarship. He published an article titled “Service-Learning at Barry University” in the fall 2013 issue of the Newsletter of U.S. Hispanic Ministry–Pastoral Hispana en los Estados Unidos. He was a co-presenter (with Raymond Ward and Mark Wedig) of “Thematic Service-Learning: A Workshop” at Barry’s inaugural Community Engagement Symposium on March 12, 2014; the presenter of a paper, “An Encounter with Christ: Service-Learning as a Theological Transformative Pedagogy,” at the Upper Midwest Regional American Academy of Religion in St. Paul, Minnesota, on April 4, 2014; and a co-presenter (with Raymond Ward) of “Lessons Learned in Service Learning” at the 13th Biennial Colloquium of Dominican Colleges and Universities at Rockville Centre, New York, on June 14, 2014. 

Born in Miami, Florida, on July 19, 1984, to Cuban immigrants, Steffano earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida International University, a master’s in practical theology from Barry, and a doctorate in theology and education from Boston College.

At the time of his passing, he was a visiting associate professor of practical theology and religious education, and a specialist in antiracist pedagogy, at Fordham University in New York. 

A funeral mass was held last Saturday (Oct. 2) in Barry’s Cor Jesu Chapel. A rosary vigil took place virtually the previous evening. Dr Montano’s ashes will be buried today (Oct. 4) at Honey Creek Woodlands, a memorial nature preserve at the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. Finally, an online/virtual tribute, “Celebration of Steffano’s Life,” is scheduled for October 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. Details on how to participate can be found at the Ever Loved website <>.

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Volunteers Log 130 Hours Of Service On International Coastal Cleanup Day

A Pictorial Report

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