Community Partnerships and Service Learning

Community-based opportunities at Sarah Lawrence College include, but are not limited to: teaching English as a second language, leading writing workshops with people who have been incarcerated, painting with elderly participants at an adult day care, mentoring school-age students in after-school programs, and designing and building assistive tech devices for children with special needs.

We have a rich history of education for social responsibility and a commitment to the integration of service with learning. Through community-based work, students can broaden their academic inquiry, develop a deeper understanding of themselves and others, establish relationships with community leaders, and cultivate life-long skills. The Anita L. Stafford Community Partnerships and Service Learning Program staff helps to facilitate for faculty and students ways to incorporate community-based learning opportunities into both academic and extracurricular work. These opportunities take place in Yonkers, New York City, and other surrounding communities.

The Office of Community Partnerships embraces an asset based approach to community work. This over-arching framework guides our efforts in developing and supporting projects and programs that build upon the strengths of each community in which we are engaged.

Service Learning Courses

Students can register for a service-learning course where community work is an integral part of course requirements. Our office works hand-in-hand with faculty to help develop community relationships and placements pertinent to their academic courses.  Together, the College and community organizations collaborate to help students learn about their placements and the social issues relevant to them.

Intensive Semester in Yonkers

The Intensive Semester in Yonkers, an interdisciplinary program (15 credits) provides students the chance to explore in-depth, both in the classroom and by partnering and working with local agencies, some of the social, historical, economic, and environmental issues that face contemporary urban America. Students will also learn about opportunities available to meet these challenges.

Conference Projects

Another option for students is to include community-based work as part of their conference projects. Interested students come to the office for individual assistance in finding placements related to their academic interests. Find some of these possible opportunities at the Community Partner Database.

Individual Opportunities and One-Day Service Options

The Office of Community Partnerships provides a database of community-based organizations for students who wish to pursue volunteer opportunities that are not connected to a course or a conference project. During each semester, there are also a few opportunities for “do-it-in-a day” activities including garden and trail maintenance work, painting projects, and street fairs. Find more opportunities at the Community Partner Database.

Summer Leadership Action Program in Yonkers

Students work with a community-based organization for 30-hours a week for 10-weeks during the summer as part of the office’s Summer Leadership Program. In the past, students have facilitated summer camp activities, planned community garden events, and helped organize fundraising initiatives. The community-based work may vary summer to summer depending on collaborating agencies. Each week of the program students gather to participate in leadership development and reflection workshops. Visit the Summer Leadership Program page to learn more about the program. 

Student-Led Initiatives

The Office of Community Partnerships provides funding, advisory support, and skills in community development to students wishing to lead and facilitate a group of peers in sustainable community-based projects. Seeking to foster strong relationships with community agencies, teams of student volunteers work weekly with community members to carry out long-term projects that span semesters or years. Leadership positions are ceded to younger members to ensure continued partnership.  

Alternative Spring Breaks

The office sponsors two alternative spring break programs a year. These programs take a select cohort of students outside of the metropolitan area to perform community work and to live communally for a week. Leading up to the trip, the group organizes fundraisers, participates in group building projects, and prepares logistics.

Grant Funding

Community Partnerships is responsive to students’ and faculty interests and passions for community work. The office offers a funding process that can support new and growing initiatives up to a certain amount.

Community Partners

A wide range of non-profits and community-based agencies partner each year with the College. The Office of Community Partnerships assists in maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with on-campus and off-campus individuals and organizations to build the capacity of all communities.

Pre-Orientation Program

Incoming first-year students can apply to be a part of the office’s pre-orientation program focused on civic engagement. Participants arrive on campus four days before the start of orientation to live and work together in a Yonkers’ community. In the past, students volunteered with a community garden and youth program.

Community Engagement Initiative

Powered by STEAM engages student designers to build custom furniture and equipment for children with special needs out of three-ply cardboard and Arduino microcontrollers. Participating students utilize engineering principles developed by the Adaptive Design Association to create adaptive equipment for art and music therapy programs.

College vehicles and stipends for public transportation are available to assist with transportation to and from community-based placements.

Contact Us

Mara Gross, Director
Jason Beck, Assistant Director
Phone (914) 395-2573
Fax: (914) 395-2666

President's Honor Roll

Sarah Lawrence College was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement.

Students in Action

Snapshots of Sarah Lawrence students at work in the community. Click photos to view full-size

Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, VA
Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, VA
Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, VA
Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, VA
Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, VA
Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, VA
Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, VA
Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg, VA
Martin Luther King Day of Service planners discuss last minute details
A student paints an aphorism on the wall of the Mary J. Blige Center for Women
MLK Day of Service volunteer finishes painting a wall at the YWCA of Yonkers
Finishing touches are applied to a saying at the Mary J. Blige Center for Women
At the YWCA of Yonkers, volunteers prepare a wall to be painted
A student mixes paint at the Mary J. Blige Center for Women
MLK Day of Service volunteers lead a discussion with the youth from the Enviro-Earth club
A student reacts to a comment made during the circle activity with the Enviro-Earth club
Volunteers prepare snowflakes for a craft project
A student works individually with a club member on a test about snow
MLK Day of Service volunteer works with an Enviro-Earth club member on a snowflake
Volunteers hang decorative snowflakes at a community garden in Yonkers
Finishing touches are applied on the decorative piece made by the volunteers and club members
The decorative piece stretches across two lots of the community garden in Yonkers