The CUNY Service Corps is a strong University pipeline for diverse talent into New York City’s public sector, having provided thousands of CUNY students with paid work experiences in community-based organizations and government agencies since the program’s launch in 2013. The Service Corps mobilizes students to work on projects that improve the civic, economic, and environmental sustainability of New York City.
The hallmarks of the Service Corps include recruiting a participant cohort that reflects the demographics of New York City and of CUNY overall in terms of socio-economic and ethnic/racial diversity, thorough preparation of participants before they go into the field, ongoing professional development for participants and their onsite supervisors, and data-driven program management and assessment.
1. For students to make a meaningful difference through service while gaining valuable real-world work experience,
earning a wage, and where appropriate, receiving college credit;
2. For communities and partners to realize concrete benefits as a result of CUNY Service Corps projects.
The program is organized around themes that represent both opportunity and need. These are:
- A Healthier City
- A More Resilient and Greener City
- A Better Educated City
- An Economically Stronger City
In 2013, in response to neighborhood needs that came to light after Hurricane Sandy, CUNY launched a Service Corps focused on providing students with paid work experience in civic-oriented jobs in community-based organizations and government agencies.
In a recent publication about the Service Corps entitled “Race, Ethnicity, and Service-Learning,” researchers stated that the Service Corps offers support to students from diverse academic, socioeconomic, and racial/ethnic backgrounds, therefore increasing access and equity in college and the workforce. The student body in the Service Corps is representative of the overall CUNY student body, i.e., diverse racially and ethnically, over 40% first-generation college students, almost 40% non-native English speakers, and half from low-income households.
In Corps member surveys, 72% of students indicated that they identify with the community they serve; 59% report they have faced the issues their organization seeks to address; and 43% report they have received services from an organization like the one where they served.
The program’s innovative model deploys students to work in a range of positions in the field while providing robust training and support. Students in the program benefit from one-on-one advisement from their campus-based managers, pre-service training, ongoing monthly trainings, special program events, including the culminating service conference, as well as peer-to-peer support from other Corps members. Program outcomes indicate that participating students achieve gains in workplace skills, abilities, and knowledge; personal development; civic engagement and social issues awareness; social/professional networks; and academic motivation.
- Service placements:
- Last twenty-four weeks over the Fall and Spring semesters.
- Members work about 11-12 hours per week over the program year.
- Corps members are paid $15/hour, and in some instances, earn college credit.
Since its launch in August of 2013, CUNY Service Corps members have completed over 1,000,000 hours of service to NYC at over 150 nonprofits and government agencies in all 5 boroughs.
Program outcomes indicate that participating students achieve gains in workplace skills, abilities, and knowledge; personal development; civic engagement and social issues awareness; social/professional networks; and academic motivation.
Students have reported:
93% reported gains in workplace skills, abilities, knowledge
84% reported an increase in career knowledge/readiness
86% of students reported an increase in civic engagement & social issue awareness
92% of students reported gains in personal development
83% of students reported gains in their social/professional networks
Community partners have reported:
84% rated Corps members very good/exceptional in quality of work
76% indicated that students’ work hours increased the organization’s capacity
88% rated Corps members very good/exceptional in attitude towards learning
97% think of CUNY as an institution that promotes public service and/or volunteerism
91% think CUNY students/alumni are desirable employees
Central Office Staff
M. Noel Blanchet
Partnership Development & Engagement Specialist
Student Outreach & Support Specialist
Dr. Lisa O’Connor
Borough of Manhattan Community College
College of Staten Island
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Dr. Robert Waterman
Medgar Evers College
So Lan Liang
New York City College of Technology