About the CCEL: Our Mission

By Sarah Franzetti '19

civic engagement    civic engagement
          CCEL student leaders confer with Director Melissa Gaeke.                    Student facilitates youth leadership session as part of her CBL coursework.

Founded in 2014, the Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership (CCEL) connects students to their community by providing volunteer opportunities, internships, student employment, and Community Based Learning classes. We stress the relationship between CCEL and its community partners as one of mutuality. Even as students contribute to social programs in the area, they develop crucial skills that will serve them well beyond the college classroom.

A key aspect of our work involves linking academics to social action. By partnering with faculty fellows from a variety of disciplines, we are able to offer Community Based Learning classes across campus, such as Introduction to Professional Writing; Interactive Media; Communicating in the Spanish-Speaking World; Environmental Economics; and The Ethics of Food. In some of these classes, students work all semester long coming up with a project or plan to help a nonprofit client. Other courses require students to research a real-world problem facing a population and come up with a viable solution. Whatever the particular course structure, faculty draw upon the CCEL's host of community partners to provide students with a crucial supplement to their traditional textbook learning.

civic engagementSince the CCEL’s inception, survey results have shown that 73% of participants in such classes plan to engage with the community even when the course ends. In addition, 81% of students felt that the Community Based Learning component helped them to better understand the required class lectures and readings.

In addition to fostering innovative teaching, we pride ourselves on exposing students to vital community organizations, such as the Middle Main Initiative (at left), and to new career paths. We promote over 150 non-profit internship opportunities in and around Poughkeepsie as well as gap-year programs such as Teach for America and AmeriCorps. By helping students make the transition to life beyond college, CCEL aims to act as a lifelong partner between Marist students and whichever place they eventually call home.