The Community Service Office engages Smith students and members of the Smith community in a variety of community service and social action projects, educational workshops and placements. The office encourages students to pursue meaningful community service work and leadership training that enhances the educational experience, meets community-identified needs and models the development of effective community partnerships with local nonprofit organizations. Students involved in community service work learn to build bridges among diverse groups and often develop a lifelong commitment to community engagement.
CSO is part of the Center for Community Collaboration (CCC), which also provides support for community service learning courses, community-based participatory research and outreach projects.
Students work in long-term weekly placements, participate in short-term community-based projects and participate in a leadership training program. Key partner agencies are the Friends of the Homeless, Big Brothers Big Sisters Kids to Campus Program, The Kensington School Refugee Tutor/Mentor Program and the Homework House Tutoring Program.
Some 68 Smith students worked at 21 nonprofit institutions in the Pioneer Valley in 2010–11, including Northampton Community Music Center, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), Lilly and Forbes libraries and the Northampton Arts Council. Smith spent a little over $76,000 to fulfill its commitment to pay 75 percent of the students’ salaries. In addition, 86 Smith students worked as reading tutors at 15 elementary schools and agencies as part of the America Reads challenge. Smith pays 100 percent of their earnings, at a cost of approximately $60,000.
The college grants employees a paid workday each year to engage in community service, allowing them to take a regular workday to volunteer in a community activity or event in Northampton or the city or town in which they live. Many Smith employees are already actively engaged in ongoing community service work, serving on boards and performing direct service work for local nonprofits.