Civic and Community Engagement

Civic and Community Engagement

Penn State Behrend students participate in Alternative Spring Break 2018

The role of Civic and Community Engagement at Penn State Behrend is to connect students to the community in which they live and the world around them. Through experiences such as volunteering at a local non-profit organization, donating food to the food bank, traveling on the Alternative Spring Break trip, or taking a service learning course, students will continue to evolve in their role as citizens and develop knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to be active participants in their community.


Volunteering for positive social change is a collaborative experience and can be a meaningful way to learn about yourself and others. Through volunteering, students have the opportunity to build relationships in their community and work with others toward the betterment of the area in which they live and study. Volunteering can be part of the students involvement through student organizations, as part of their course work, or individual participation in a number of opportunities offered locally and beyond.

Resources are available to connect students to volunteer opportunities. Staff are available to meet with individual students and groups, or there are online resources to search for local opportunities. 

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Collaborating with local organizations to provide funds and goods is another way Behrend can be an asset to the community. Through donation programs in partnership with the United Way, local non-profit, and Erie school district, students, faculty and staff can find ways to contribute to the greater good.

  • Healthy Living Leads to Strong Minds - Erie School District/United Way
    This collaborative effort with the Biology Department promotes healthy futures through a collection of hand sanitizer, tissues/wipes, and hand soap which is donated to local schools through the United Way. The donations help support the schools, teachers and students in promoting hygiene and fighting illness in the classroom. Items are collected on campus throughout the fall semester.
  • Thanksgiving Food Drive - Second Harvest Food Bank of NWPA
    The Thanksgiving Food Drive is held during the fall semester and part of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov 11-Nov 17, 2018). Food bags are collected with specific Thanksgiving meal items throughout the month and is capped off at the Dinner for Six event on Nov 14, 2018. In 2017, The Thanksgiving Food drive contributed 1,596 lbs to Second Harvest Food Bank of NWPA.
  • Shining Star - St. Martin Center
    St. Martin Center of Erie has a simple goal with their Shining Star program, make sure every child in need can have a wonderful Christmas. This annual holiday program is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to provide a gift to a local child in need. As a campus community, we serve up to 100 children per year. Shining Star takes place after Thanksgiving.
  • Trash 2 Treasure Sale - United Way
    This rummage sale allows students, faculty and community members to purchase a variety of affordably priced, gently used items. Sale takes place on campus at the end of the spring semester.


Serving as an asset to the community goes beyond giving time or money. By educating ourselves more about issues that impact the community, and understanding their root causes, the better we can position ourselves to work with others to make a difference. The opportunity to learn through service can happen through a volunteer experience, taking a service learning course, or through building relationships with fellow community members. Students interested in developing or participating in capacity building projects should contact staff to discuss opportunities.

Contact Us

Staff are available to connect students, faculty, and staff to resources and opportunities in the community. 

Office: Smith Chapel
Phone: 814-898-6609