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Encouraging Community Development

Civic Connections

Smith’s president and senior staff members meet regularly with the Northampton mayor and other city officials to discuss issues and opportunities of mutual interest. The president’s annual college-community breakfast invites some 50 civic, cultural and religious leaders in Northampton to campus for updates on Smith’s key projects and initiatives.

Affordable Housing

Working with the Valley Community Development Corporation, the college provided $770,000 to subsidize the development of 12 new downtown apartments in two locations. Most recently, the college donated $100,000 to Valley CDC to support the construction of 55 units of affordable housing on Pleasant Street in Northampton.

Jandon Center for Community Engagement

The Jandon Center engages faculty, students and community partners on social-change projects that tackle community-driven goals. Through experiential learning and scholarship, students build essential capacities in critical thinking while providing significant leadership for addressing complex, urgent issues facing communities and society.

  • Community-based Learning: The center supports faculty and students in crafting reciprocal partnerships with community organizations. Students engage in coursework that deepens their understanding of complex issues and supports community partners in addressing locally defined challenges and opportunities.
  • STEM Outreach: Smith STEM ambassadors support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Northampton schools. These campus/community partnerships nurture students’ abilities to draw upon and convey knowledge, think critically and plan creatively while offering K–12 teachers hands-on support in state-of-the-art teaching methods.
  • Community Service: Smith students are placed in semester-based, yearlong or short-term co-curricular projects that build capacity in partnering with local nonprofits. Partners include the Center for New Americans, Friends of Hampshire County Homeless, Manna Soup Kitchen, Northampton Survival Center and United Way of Hampshire County.

Employee Service

The college grants employees a paid workday each year to engage in community service, allowing them to use 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 volunteering for local nonprofits.

Off-Campus Work-Study

Some 77 Smith students worked at 20 nonprofit institutions in the Pioneer Valley in 2018–19, including Historic Northampton, the Center for New Americans and Abundance Farm. The college spent more than $102,890 to fulfill its commitment to pay 90 percent of the students’ salaries. In addition, 73 Smith students worked as reading tutors at eight elementary schools and agencies as part of the America Reads challenge. Smith pays their full earnings, at a cost of approximately $55,782.

Campus Safety

Campus safety provide protection and services to the college community, its visitors and guests. The officers are sworn special state police officers and are trained professionals with police powers on campus property. Campus safety often works with other agencies, particularly the Northampton Police Department and the Hampshire County District Attorney’s Office. The department coordinates with the Northampton Fire Department for emergency ambulance service and participates on behalf of the college in the city’s emergency management team. The college provides overtime employment at time-and-a-half pay for a significant number of Northampton police officers, particularly during Commencement and Reunion weekends when, for example, approximately $5,800 is paid for the services of more than two dozen city police officers for traffic control.

The Five College Consortium has been awarded a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to host IACLEA (International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators) table top exercise in emergency planning on the Smith College campus and we invited Northampton Police and Fire to participate in an active threat scenario last May.


Since 2007 Smith has partnered with Zipcar, North America’s largest car-sharing service, to offer the Smith community and local residents a cost-effective alternative to car ownership. Smith has six Zipcars; the company estimates that each Zipcar eliminates the need for more than 20 privately owned vehicles.