Student-Led Initiatives

Working towards social change, student-led initiatives utilize teams of volunteers in the development and implementation of community-based projects, tapping into the creativity and energy of the Sarah Lawrence population. Passionate students have the ability to volunteer with an existing initiative to sustain or grow its operations, or start new relationships with partners in the community that address a particular community challenge. A staff advisor supports both existing and new projects, offering guidance when and where needed.

Students wishing to spearhead new initiatives can sit down and talk with a staff member of the Office of Community Partnerships. Prospective projects should be backed by a demand in the community for the undertaking (most often in the form of a non-profit organization as partner).

Current Initiatives

Language Partnerships
Language acquisition is a challenge—whether it is one's first language or seventh. Through a partnership with the SLC Operations Office, volunteers host conversational English for participating members of the Sarah Lawrence community.

During the growing season, children and adults in Yonkers turn a series of vacant lots into lush gardens by growing vegetables and flowers that serve more than 2,000 area residents. Volunteers make two trips a week to the community gardens and work with the youth group that utilizes the garden as a place of learning. This project is supported by the Greyston Foundation.

Reading Buddies
Reading Buddies provides additional literacy support to elementary learners reading below grade level. The partnership works in an afterschool program to promote literacy and provide homework support.

Harts for Hope
Volunteers host weekly art sessions with members of Wartburg, a diverse senior care facility of more than 400 residents located in nearby Mount Vernon. Through the process of making art together, students and participants develop intergenerational relationships that transcend the art pieces themselves.

Iglesia Scholars
Iglesia Memorial de San Andres is a small, Episcopal church in a predominately Latino neighborhood in Yonkers that offers various community programs. Sarah Lawrence College volunteers provide educational enrichment activities for elementary youth residing in the community on Saturdays around different themes such as exploring the solar system or understanding ships.

Right to Write
Started initially as a project by two faculty members, Right-to-Write is now supported by graduate student leaders in the College's MFA program. Students facilitate weekly writing workshops with inmates of the Westchester County Correctional Facility, providing writing prompts and exercises to facilitate artistic expression amongst the participants.

Health and Science After-School Program

A group of students provide hands-on science demonstrations with children in an afterschool program. Through theses demonstrations, the volunteers expose the children to different types of science and health topics – from explorations of the color spectrum to non-Newtonian fluids.

Alternative Spring Break Trips
Student leaders design two spring break trips, selecting the project, location, and participants. Applications are available on campus in October, and from there participating students host fundraisers and finalize pre-departure logistics. During the first week of spring break, the groups set out for their various destinations.

From Class to Action

The Fall 2011 issue of InTouch, Sarah Lawrence's newsletter for the local community, featured a story on sophomores Rui Gui and Sharon Holiner and the work they do at San Andres Iglesia. Read the article»

Iglesia Scholars in action at Iglesia Memorial de San Andres in Yonkers