25 Colleges That Are Great Community Citizens

Campuses That Are Making Community Service a Priority

Colleges aren’t just about studying, exams, tuition and the chance to live away from home. Community service is becoming a bigger part of college life at some schools. Funding through organizations like the Corporation for National & Community Service helps to drive community service and college volunteer efforts. So too do social service majors, a student’s search for the “right” career path and the opportunity for a student to distinguish herself from other advanced academic program applicants. Benefits of community volunteerism range from early work experience, eligibility for certain scholarships and grants, academic credit and life skills.

15 Colleges With Strong Community Service Programs


  • Rhodes College

    Rhodes College is a leading community service school. The Memphis, Tennessee based college has ties to about 100 service programs in Memphis. Bonners Scholars, summer service fellowships and student community service groups like Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics Lynx Club and Voices for Planned Parenthood offer one-time and ongoing volunteer opportunities. The summer service fellowship last for nine-weeks. Academic credit is awarded for participation in the fellowship.


  • Syracuse University

    Syracuse University offers service learning, volunteer opportunities and community based service activities. These community service efforts are administered through the school’s Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public & Community Service. Classroom learning, coaching, mentoring and tutoring sessions are among the leadership opportunities available through the center. More than 100 community organizations across healthcare, civic engagement and nutrition partner with the school


  • Marquette University

    Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Marquette University offers a service oriented program that links classroom learning with community based learning. Through the program that launched in 1994, students fulfill one of the school’s four pillars. The Center for Community Service provides oversight for events, programs and community service resources at the school. Key community service programs at Marquette include SERVE, Marquette Volunteer Corps, Making A Living, Making A Difference and Service Retreat.


  • Westminster College

    Westminster College is a private school located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Known as a military friendly school, Westminster College made the 2016 Presidential Honor Roll for its community service. The recognition came from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Volunteer opportunities, community based learning and student organizations that support residents in need and nonprofit organizations are overseen by the school’s Katherine W. Dumke Center for Civic Engagement. More than 63% of the school’s students get involved in community service. Wellness screenings, Merritt Take Action and volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits are examples of community service events organized through the center.


  • St. John's University

    St. John’s University offers academic service learning. This learning takes place in a classroom setting. Domestic and international volunteer opportunities are available at the school. International volunteer opportunities are managed through the Conversation Partners Program. Aim of the program is to help students whose native language is not English improve their English communication skills. There are more than a dozen service efforts spearheaded by the school, including LEADing Through Service, Plunge Program, Ronald McDonald House and Sponsor a Family.


  • Morehouse College

    Morehouse College is a historically black college and university that was founded in 1867. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Maynard Jackson and Julian Bond are among the renowned service leaders who attended Morehouse. Bonner Office of Community Service has oversight for community engagement at Morehouse College. Service based learning, the school’s leadership center and the Community Development Revitalization Task Force are internal service partners. External service partners include Atlanta based homeless shelters, food banks, hospitals, mentoring programs and AIDS awareness programs.


  • College of the Holy Cross

    College of the Holy Cross has a mission to serve Catholic and larger communities. Faith based and community service programs include the Student Coalition on Homeless and Housing and Work for Worcester Youths. The school has committed to invest seven percent of its federal work study funding in community based student work study employment. Through its community outreach programs, students volunteer with area nonprofits. Students also sit on boards of community service organizations and participate on the Holy Cross Community Engagement Committee.


  • Simpson College

    Scientist George Washington Carver is among the early students who attended Simpson College. The school’s civic engagement services are offered at the Kent Campus Center. Area volunteer and community service activities come through programs and initiatives like Religious Life Community, the Iowa College AmeriCorps Program and the Culver Center.


  • Widener University

    Widener University is located less than 15 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school’s civic engagement and leadership programs are nationally recognized. In addition to its public administration and social work academic programs, Widener teaches students to apply classroom learning to real life community service opportunities. Habitat for Humanity, Engineers Without Borders and Big Brothers / Big Sisters are key community based programs that the school partners with through its Civic Engagement unit. Shoes for Schools, Stetser After School Tutoring and the Academic Service-Learning Faculty Development Program are one-time volunteer opportunities that students get involved in.


  • Bryn Mawr College

    Bryn Mawr College hosts a community day of study, during which present, past and future learning are addressed. The women’s liberal arts college has several volunteer resources and opportunities. Club and class volunteers, fundraising and affinity group volunteers are different pathways to service at Bryn Mawr College. Students who volunteer independently of school efforts may receive reimbursement for up to 50% of their travel expenses. Community service programs sponsored through the college’s Civic Engagement division include America Reads / America Counts, Bryn Mawr Buddies, Saturdays of Service and Summer Service Opportunities.


  • Hillsdale College

    Hillsdale College is a private school located in Hillsdale, Michigan. As many as 20 volunteer opportunities exist for students. In addition to strengthening the community, these volunteer opportunities are used to develop student leadership skills. Among these opportunities are A Few Good Men, Buddy Reading, Music in the Community and Hillsdale Youth Mentoring. Alumni and area business and civic leaders offer their community service through the college’s Associate’s Program. Associates volunteer through leadership seminars, off-campus programs and college fundraising opportunities.


  • Tulane University

    Tulane University is known for its culture of community engagement. The school’s Center for Public Service is one of the first places that students who are interested in getting involved in community service visit. The center launched in 2006. Internships, the Melon Graduate Program and international community engagement programs are managed through the center. Students may help build homes, restore community facilities and prepare to serve in the Peace Corps.


  • Wake Forest University

    Wake Forest University campus groups like sororities and fraternities are one way that Wake Forest students give back to the community. The school also has a Volunteer Service Corps. The student led organization connects student volunteers with area nonprofit organizations. During the organization’s Pro-Humanitate Day, students across campus participate in community-based events. Advocacy for the Poor, AIDS Care Services and the American Heart Association are external partners that the Volunteer Service Corps works with.


  • Sacred Heart University

    Fairfield, Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University aims to make a difference in local and regional communities through its volunteer efforts. Classroom studies within the school’s Volunteer Programs & Service Learning department focuses on social responsibility. Mentoring, urban food programs, senior citizens support and opportunities to engage with community partners are ways that students provide community service. The Service Learning Council offers oversight for volunteer and community based services at the school.


  • Saint Anselm College

    Saint Anselm College is a Catholic college in New Hampshire. Service learning is at the heart of the college’s community based work. Events, volunteer opportunities, mission trips and service learning are facilitated through the Meelia Center for Community Engagement. As one of the country’s top community service schools, Saint Anselm College partners with more than 50 nonprofit and community oriented organizations. Well over 850 students, faculty and administrators provide more than 18,000 hours of community service. Dozens of volunteer opportunities in the community like Benchmark, Kids Cafe and Liberty House are available through the school.


10 Top College Social Service Programs

Social service majors work with infants, youth and aging adults. These people may be dealing with mental health issues, poverty, illiteracy, abuse, physical disabilities or chronic health conditions. For social service majors, it can be rewarding to improve the community by doing the work that helps the head of a family learn to read, strengthen an abused child’s self-esteem or teach a family how to get out of poverty. Non-profit, public and private organizations may require social service workers to possess undergraduate or graduate degrees. These 10 college social service programs are known for linking academics and community service.


  • University of California-Berkeley

    The University of California-Berkeley has more than 75 years of social welfare education experience. Undergraduate and graduate social welfare degrees are awarded. The more than 350 community field education placements at the school serve as a route to firsthand social work experience.

  • University of Georgia

    Dual social work degrees are conferred at the University of Georgia. Concentrations prepare students to integrate advanced social and community work skills and knowledge in support that they provide youth, adults and families. Areas explored during coursework includes the role that environment plays on human behavior, poverty and health issues. Field education, diversity and assessment and psychopathology are other areas covered during the training that is administered within the school’s School of Social Work.

  • Rutgers University

    Rutgers University deepens learning in its School of Social Work by offering a blend of classroom, field experience and study abroad opportunities. Specialties that faculty have deep knowledge in are women’s issues, social welfare policy, gender issues and social welfare history. More than 13 social work academic fields and centers for learning are at Rutgers University.

  • University of Michigan-Dearborn

    At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, students declare majors in behavioral sciences and social sciences. Lab, health policy studies and organizational and community internships are included in the Department of Behavioral Sciences programs. Disciplines in the Social Sciences program are political science, geography, history, political science and economics.

  • University of Chicago

    Social thought is just one field that the University of Chicago awards social welfare and social science degrees in. Comparative human development and sociology are among the other specialties. Research and internship experiences within the Division of Social Sciences are enhanced by community discussion forums and workshops. The Becker Friedman Institute and the Institute for Mind and Biology are two of the school’s four social science institutes and centers.

  • Indiana University

    Indiana University is known for its master of social work degree. Both the graduate and undergraduate program are taught through the School of Social Work. Mental health and addictions are primary areas that master of social work graduates practice in, making the university one of the top providers of mental health caregivers.

  • Merrimack College

    Merrimack College offers advanced social science students the chance to expand their education within the honors program. Four pillars that the honors program focuses on are community, service, research and leadership.

  • College of William & Mary

    Within the Community Engagement division at the College of William & Mary, students get to work on community organized programs like the New Kent County Department of Social Services program that offers assistance to needy families, child care and adoption services. Interdisciplinary degrees are structured and self-designed. Social science majors access the counseling center and health center to sharpen their learning.

  • Boston College

    Fellowship support, innovation, global learning and workshops that focus on community and social solutions are hallmarks of Boston College‘s School of Social Work. The school is committed to extending learning beyond classroom settings through social symposiums and an examination of social interventions

  • Smith College

    Smith College is known for clinical social work learning. The master of social work program is globally recognized. Graduates get skills to work with individuals and families in clinical environments, focusing on areas like gender, trauma, race, class and theory.

7 Ways To Get The Most From Colleges That Value Community Service

According to college admissions advisors, students can never have too much volunteer work. The important factor is the area that students volunteer in. For example, a senior college student who volunteers 500 hours a year tutoring freshmen engineering majors could signal to graduate college admissions counselors that the senior has deep interest in engineering. A combination of high entrance exam scores, good essays and proven interest in a major could help a student get admitted into widely respected academic programs.

That’s just one way to get the most from colleges that value community service. Here are six other ways for students to make attending colleges that value community service support them while they are in school and after they graduate.

  • Add community service work to resumes. Community service may be the only work experience that new college students have. This would could serve as the beginnings of a professional resume.
  • Network with public service leaders who work at volunteer or community organizations. These may be hospital administrators, mayors, heads of family service agencies and military leaders.
  • Tie community service efforts with personal passions. It might even be possible to complete internships through community service programs.
  • Seek programs that offer academic credit for community service. Students could check with academic advisors to get a list of credits that colleges that value community service offer for community-based work.
  • Participate in community service programs that put students in direct contact with hiring managers. Major corporations offer grants to service oriented organizations. Some of the grant funds are used to host gala fundraisers like elegant dinners and golf outings. Getting a seat at these events could put students in touch with senior leaders at major corporations.
  • Apply for scholarships and grants that require students to complete community service. Students may need to volunteer in specific fields to qualify for the funding.

Scholarship and Grants at Colleges With Strong Community Service Programs

Following are scholarships and grants that are designed for students eager to combine community service and college. As with traditional scholarships and grants, essays may be required to complete these scholarship and grant applications.

Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship

Approximately $1,000 awarded to students who work to improve their communities.

Horatio Alger Association Scholarship

Awards scholarships in the amount of $25,000 to students who are active in the community.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarship

Eligible to students with academic and community service strength.

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

Focuses on students who are determined to create positive change in the world.

Tylenol Future Care Scholarship

Awarded to students who demonstrate strong leadership, community service and academic excellence.

Burger King Scholars Program

Up to $50,000 is awarded through the program. A strong GPA, community service and extracurricular experience are needed.

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