Civic and Community Engagement

Civic and Community Engagement

Penn State Behrend students participate in Alternative Spring Break 2018

Civic and Community Engagement at Penn State Behrend connects students to the community and to the world. Through experiences such as volunteering at a local nonprofit organization, collecting items to donate, traveling on the Alternative Spring Break trip, or taking a service-learning course, students evolve in their role as citizens and develop the knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to be active participants in their communities.


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. At Behrend, you'll find volunteer opportunities through involvement in student organizations, as part of your coursework, or through individual participation in opportunities offered locally and beyond.

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

Contact us at Visit Get Connected Erie or Volunteer Match for volunteer opportunities.


Collaboration with local organizations to provide funds and goods is another way Behrend is an asset to the community. Students, faculty, and staff work in partnership with the United Way, local nonprofits, and the City of Erie school district 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 by collecting hand sanitizer, tissues, wipes, and soap to donate to local schools through the United Way. The donations help support the schools, teachers, and students by 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, which routinely collects 1,600-plus pounds of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania, is held during the fall semester as part of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Thanksgiving meal items are collected throughout November and the drive is capped off with the annual Dinner for Six event. 
  • Shining Star - St. Martin Center
    St. Martin Center of Erie's Shining Star program has a simple goal: Make sure every child in need has 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 donate or purchase a variety of affordably priced, gently used items. The 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 about issues that impact our community and understanding their root causes, 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