College Students Look Beyond Campus to Provide Community Service

Colleges and their students are about more than being self-contained and just helping those on their campuses. Members of the community can benefit when students volunteer off campus and institutions provide helpful public programing. Here is a look at what five schools are doing to make a difference.

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By Jessica Lyons

SUNY Oswego

Located in upstate New York, SUNY Oswego (part of the State University of New York system) provides some much-needed assistance for Oswego County residents during tax season. Students from the university's School of Business run the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Each year, these students prepare tax and provide related counseling services. And the best part for residents is that it's all free of charge.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

One way the University of Illinois is trying to help the world at large is through its Office of Sustainability. The goal of the office is 'to engage the campus, community and state about the important issues of sustainability.' This is done in part through sustainability events that are held for the college and community. For example, they have held Sustainability Week, where attendees learned about reducing their carbon footprints. Other activities include symposiums, creating a climate action plan and providing tips for green living.

University of Miami

The University of Miami considers community outreach to be a 'vital' part of its overall mission. The school also explains that it has long found it important to have a 'close, synergistic relationship with the South Florida community.' There are a variety of ways in which UM aids the community. Among their initiatives are a mini health clinic, music classes for adults and seniors, mentoring for high school students, counseling services, bankruptcy assistance and representing community members with tenants' rights problems.

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Brown University

In 1986, Brown University established its Swearer Center for Public Service. The center's goals are to 'strengthen communities' through local partnerships while also giving students the opportunity to prepare to be future leaders. The center offers many community programs and volunteer opportunities. They include tutoring high school students, holding a writing club for elementary students, art mentoring, SAT preparation, sexual health workshops and English classes for adults.

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky boasts a presence in all 120 of the state's counties 'through agricultural extension services.' This includes help with farming or financial planning. In addition, the school created its Center for Community Outreach in August of 2002. Just a few examples of how students try to make a difference include volunteering in shelters or health care settings and helping with diaper drives.

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