Community Partnerships

Our student-run Community Partnership programs address a range of issues through direct service and advocacy. We pride ourselves on an abiding philosophy that values mutually beneficial partnerships with the community, rather than simply service to the community.

How can I join?

Click on the issue areas on the left to explore our programs, or attend an upcoming information session to learn about the expectations and application process for each program. We also host the Community Engagement Fair, formerly the Community Service Opportunities Fair each semester - an event for students to meet student leaders from all of our programs.

Who is serving?

Each year, over 500 Brown student volunteers and Fellows work with other Brown students, local organizations, and residents; learn more about Providence's distinctive neighborhoods; and gain practical skills they might not learn in the classroom or lab. 

Most student volunteers make a long-term commitment to the Swearer Center, serving in programs for a full academic year or longer. The majority of students spend 1-4 hours per week volunteering; about a third of our volunteers contribute 5-9 hours per week. Swearer Center students study a diverse variety of disciplines; while our programs are heavily oriented around education, fewer than 6% of our students are education concentrators.  

See stories by students volunteering and leading community programs on Swearer Sparks.

What will I learn?

In this work, students come to grapple with complex questions, such as:

  • How can Brown students forge authentic relationships with community partners?
  • What skills, resources and energy can students bring to collaborative projects that will complement their community partners' skills and capacities?  
  • Where do community impact and undergraduate learning intersect, and where do they diverge?
  • What does an engaged campus look like?
  • How can I respectfully and effectively collaborate with others to make positive social change?
  • What is my own position in the world and what is the purpose that I will carry with me into my life after Brown?

What are the Swearer Center's goals?

Community Partnerships connect the capacities at Brown with those of Providence communities to address inequality and promote both student learning and community impact.  

  • Reciprocal Community Partnerships: Meaningful and sustained social change requires respectful and effective collaboration. Brown students apply their skills, convictions and academic pursuits to real world situations, addressing issues of social injustices while learning first-hand about the assets and strengths in area neighborhoods, families, and residents. Strong, long-term relationships with community members and partner organizations are an essential component of success.
  • Student Learning: The Swearer Center’s approach is rooted in more than a volunteer interaction.  Brown student volunteers participate in trainings, orientations, and individual and group conversations that aim to provide foundational knowledge and skills alongside experiential opportunities. Students learn to understand social issues in context and to reflect on their own position in the world and the purpose that they will carry with them into their lives after Brown.