Almost every university offers its students the opportunity to perform community service, but at some schools, philanthropic work is a cornerstone of every student’s education. From helping out in the community to contributing to the betterment of others abroad, some schools’ students go the extra mile to turn their attention from their studies to the world outside them.
Here are the 10 most charitable schools whose students go above and beyond to serve their communities.
10) STANFORD UNIVERSITY (Stanford, California)
Stanford students are not only smart, they use those smarts to help out their local community. Through the tutoring project Ravenswood Reads, Stanford students are able to provide a learning opportunity for underprivileged schools in the East Palo Alto area. The program connects Stanford students one-on-one with young children to help them develop language and literacy skills. In order to make the Stanford campus as socially active as possible, Stanford students organized the first annual Designathon at Stanford through Design for America this year to brainstorm ways to bring public service to the forefront of student life at their school.
9) UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT (Storrs, Connecticut)
Social action has become more and more popular within the last few years at UConn, and with the help of the Office of Community Outreach, students collectively dedicated themselves to 1.4 million hours of service last year. UConn was recently one of five schools to receive a 2013 Presidential Award in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll from The Corporation for National and Community Service. Last year, in the wake of the tragic Newtown school shootings, UConn demonstrated their support for their local community by establishing the Sandy Hook School Memorial Scholarship Fund to help support the college costs of accepted students who had lost a sibling or parent, students whose parents were physically wounded in the assault, and students currently enrolled at the school who are accepted to the university.
8) UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO (San Diego, California)
At the University of San Diego, students are all about fighting for social justice. As one student on Students Review said, “the global focus [found at USD] is unique to find at a college.” The Center for Community Service-Learning encourages students, faculty, and alumni to become involved with social changes, and it helps them find local and national projects in which they can become involved. The university also offers about 40 classes each semester that incorporate community service-learning into the curriculum. For all their dedication to social justice, the University of San Diego has earned the recognition of being a “College with a Conscience” by The Princeton Review, as well as the title of an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, which is given to leading universities in social innovation education.
7) FORDHAM UNIVERSITY (Bronx, New York)
Founded on the Jesuit tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Fordham University strives to embody the Jesuit ideal of “men and women for others” through its dedication to service. Before students even begin their time at Fordham, they are given the opportunity to participate in a pre-orientation program called Urban Plunge that allows new students to work together on community service projects benefiting local youth, the elderly, the homeless, and the environment. Fordham also offers the services of the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice to help match students up with community service projects. To help students get involved in the local community, the business school even offers a service-learning program that combines academic learning in the classroom with volunteer projects in New York City.
6) BOSTON COLLEGE (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts)
As another Jesuit university, Boston College also works to instill the idea of social action in its students. The Boston College Volunteer Service Learning Center offers several service immersion trips and student service organizations that work on improving the Boston community, such as the popular service group 4Boston, which requires its participants to dedicate a minimum of four hours of service a week. This year, as part of their sesquicentennial celebration, BC organized a food-packaging project through Stop Hunger Now and Catholic Relief Services for families in Burkina Faso, with meals packed by BC students and alumni in eight different cities. After the tragic bombings during the Boston Marathon this past spring, BC also worked to raise funds for bombing victims, and even organized a walk to give those who couldn’t finish the race an opportunity to walk the last five miles. Says BC senior Morgan Gibbons, “‘Jesuit’ is not just another adjective to describe our school, but a way of life.”
5) ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY (St. Louis, Missouri)
Also a Jesuit university, SLU prides itself on its commitment to serving the community. Last year, on their annual Make a Difference Day, where SLU students volunteer at nonprofit agencies (such as packaging meals for Feed My Starving Children, as students did this past year), the amount of student participation made the event one of the largest days of collegiate service in the entire country. St. Louis recently started a new Community Service Federal Work-Study program where students eligible for work-study could earn money through helping out the local community. With all the hours SLU students dedicate to service, it’s no wonder they’ve made the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll on more than one occasion. “St. Louis University believes in educating and contributing to the whole person because, as a whole person, you can contribute to the world,” says the founder of the HC Chapter at SLU, Christin Kobos.
4) UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES (Los Angeles, California)
For students at UCLA, volunteer work is a major part of their college experience. The UCLA Volunteer Day for incoming freshmen is the nation’s largest community participation event for new students, orienting every new student to UCLA life through community service. Volunteer work isn’t just for the freshmen, either; the UCLA Volunteer Center allows students to become involved in many local and national organizations. UCLA even nabbed the #1 spot on Washington Monthly’s Community Service Participation ranking in 2010, as well as the third overall spot on the contribution to the public good in the same year.
3) ST. MARY’S COLLEGE OF CALIFORNIA (Moraga, California)
Founded on Saint John Baptist de La Salle’s vision of a Lasallian education—which strives to enrich a student’s cultural, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual development—St. Mary’s encourages all of its students to become involved in civic service. Many of its students are first-generation college students, and the university has established several programs supporting those first-generation students to help them achieve their education goals. Each year, students at St. Mary’s collectively provide more than 47,000 hours of community service in the U.S. and abroad, and St. Mary’s was even recognized as one of the top 20 colleges for community service by USA Today College in 2011. This year marked the seventh year in a row that St. Mary’s has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
2) RHODES COLLEGE (Memphis, Tennessee)
Rhodes is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and has made certain to emphasize the importance of giving back to its students. With 80 percent of its students involved in community service, it’s no surprise that Rhodes earned the title of Newsweek’s #1 “Most Service-Oriented School” in both 2010 and 2011. Through Rhodes CARES, which is short for the Center for Academic Research and Education through Service, students are given hands-on learning opportunities in and around Memphis. The Kinney Program is also in place to partner students with more than 100 different service programs and agencies in Memphis.
1) GETTYSBURG COLLEGE (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)
Gettysburg doesn’t just work outside the campus in the community – they help to welcome the community to their campus as well. Gettysburg runs their own campus-community hub for food justice on campus called the Painted Turtle Farm, where students work with low-income and immigrant families. Seventy-two percent of students are engaged in some form of community service at Gettysburg, due largely to the help of the Center for Public Service, which helps coordinate community service projects in Gettysburg. This year, Gettysburg was even one of five colleges named a Presidential Awardee in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.