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Community Involvement

DePaul was founded in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission (or Vincentian) religious community, which follows the teachings of 17th century French priest St. Vincent de Paul. His teachings emphasized service to the community, an area in which the university has a long history of commitment.

Community Service

The Division of Mission and Ministry provides service opportunities for undergraduate students in the Vincentian tradition. These programs are listed below. 


  • The DePaul Community Service Association (DCSA) consists of 16 student organizations, 34 student leaders and over 100 volunteers dedicated to weekly community service and advocacy with 15 distinct community partners throughout Chicago. DCSA student organizations focus on various social issues—​including youth mentorship/tutorship, adult ESL tutoring, disability care, restorative justice, animal care, hunger and homelessness​by developing relationships with marginalized individuals and communities. Students involved in these programs contributed approximately 6,381 hours of service in 2016-2017. 
  • The Community Peacemakers program (CPM) is one of DePaul University's responses to youth violence in Chicago. CPM pairs DePaul students with Chicago Public High Schools across the city to serve as college mentors. In a year-long collaboration, CPM engages CPS students in a series of educational classroom-based activities focused on peace and non-violence. In exploring the roots of violence and promoting peace, CPM hopes to contribute to the efforts in reducing violence in the city of Chicago. 
  • Supported by the Vincentian Community Service Office of DePaul’s University Ministry, the DePaul Community Service Association (DCSA) consists of 16 student organizations, 32 student leaders and over 100 volunteers dedicated to weekly community service and advocacy with 15 distinct community partners throughout Chicago. DCSA student organizations focus on issues—including youth mentorship/tutorship, adult ESL tutoring, disability care, human rights awareness, environmental justice, animal rights, elderly care, hunger and homelessness—by developing relationships with marginalized individuals and communities. Students involved in these programs contributed approximately 7,348 hours of service in 2015-2016.
  • Over 2,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni participate in DePaul’s two annual service daysNew Student Service Day and Vincentian Service Dayand one faculty /staff Day with Vincent program. The goal of the Service Day program is to provide a Vincentian experience for all members of the DePaul community. On these days, the DePaul community works to assist Chicago non profit organizations, schools, and multiple faith-based organizations. 
  • More than 120 DePaul students and 12 faculty/staff participate annually in winter and spring break service immersion trips, which travel to domestic and international locations, Participants assist local community service organizations and learn from social justice partners, including members of the Vincentian family. Students involved in these programs contributed approximately 5,454 hours of service in 2016-2017.
  • ​The Loop Community Service (LCS) program, sponsored by University Ministry, targets loop-based adult, graduate and international students to serve at local downtown sites such as Grace Place and Fourth Presbyterian Church. LCS also coordinates "Donate-a-Day" one-day service projects with Loop-based colleges and students organizations, organizes weekly tutoring with Chicago public school students, collaborates with the College of Law on student service trips, and supports social justice educational programming in the loop. ​

Catholic and Vincentian Identity

  • University Ministry sponsors several Christian retreat programs for students throughout the year, including the popular Search Retreat, as well as First Year Retreat, the Men's and Women's Retreat,  the Senior Retreat,  DePaul Christian Ministries’ leadership and Women's spirituality retreats. The retreats explore various elements of the Christian faith, including topics of community, identity, discipleship, forgiveness, prayer and the body of Christ.
  • University Ministry also hosts a Quarterly Inter-religious Celebration and supports the Interfaith Scholars student leader group. In addition to an annual interfaith retreat, retreats are organized and hosted by DePaul's many and diverse student religious organizations each year. 
  • University Ministry sponsors a Vincentians in Action program in which students inspired by the example of St. Vincent de Paul pursue service opportunities with communities in need while being encouraged to develop their faith in light of their service involvement.
  • Catholic Campus Ministry, in collaboration with St. Vincent de Paul Parish, offers Catholic students a vibrant liturgical and sacramental life. The 9:30 p.m. Mass on Sundays regularly attracts over 200 students and is known for the beauty of its music, provided by a student choir and musicians.

The Steans Center develops mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations to engage DePaul students in educational opportunities grounded in Vincentian values of respect for human dignity and the quest for social justice

  • Academic Service Learning: Service learning is a pedagogy that embeds relevant, meaningful service within curriculum in order to meet course-learning objectives. By serving local communities, students are challenged to integrate experiences with relevant theories, methods and concepts introduced through texts, lectures and other means. DePaul integrates service learning in over 180 courses a year, supporting more than 3,400 students to engage in direct service to approximately 150 community partners; faculty and students conduct workshops and one-on-one consulting, and engage in community-campus partnership development, site placement facilitation and ongoing monitoring and support of courses that integrate Academic Service Learning.
  • McCormick Community Internships: Through support from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, DePaul undergraduates design and apply for funded advanced community-based internships that apply their knowledge and skills to benefit a Chicago area non-profit organization while serving their career and academic interests. The McCormick Community Internship is a quarter-long internship program with potential for renewal for up to two additional quarters.  Interns receive $1,200 per academic quarter for 100 hours of work with their organization.  At the end of the year, McCormick interns present their final projects at the Steans Center’s annual Service Speaks.
  • Community Partners Internships: The Community Partners Internship places federal work-study eligible DePaul students at partner organizations throughout the Chicago area. The program aims to provide students with first-hand experience and application in the nonprofit sector and to strengthen partnerships with community–based organizations that have a consistent record of successfully partnering with DePaul ASL courses. CPI students enroll during their first year in CSS 201 Critical Community Engagement.
  • Catholic Schools Partnerships and Internships: Catholic Schools Internships (CSI) is a mission-related community service work-study program that allows DePaul University students to serve in Chicago’s most under-resourced Catholic schools providing tutoring, mentoring, and supplemental enrichment activities. CSI provides support for 11 Catholic schools and programs and aligns strongly with the Steans Center's strategic priorities to prepare students to be socially responsible future leaders and to pursue lifelong civic engagement.
  • Public School Internships: Public School Internships are the core of Public School Partnerships. PSI consists of a team of DePaul tutor/mentors who receive scholarship funding to work in public schools. Tutors work to enhance elementary student learning through tutoring, mentoring, and supplemental enrichment activities and by supporting and building community-school partnerships.  The tutor/mentors are trained in asset-based approaches to community development and to identify ways in which DePaul and other organizations can support school and student success.
  • Jumpstart: Jumpstart is a national program that trains DePaul students to deliver an innovative early education program via yearlong one-on-one relationships with preschool children from low-income households. Seventy paid DePaul students work with children on language, literacy and social skills for a commitment of at least 300 hours per academic year. Students are paired with preschool children in caring and supportive one-to-one relationships for the entire school year.
  • Community Service Studies: Community Service Studies was developed in the late 1990s as part of a university-wide effort to extend opportunities for learning through practice into multiple curricula at DePaul. The CSS academic minor combines courses from several disciplines that provide a framework for viewing community service from a historical, structural and critical perspective. The curriculum includes three foundation courses (Critical Community Engagement, Nonprofit Management, and Community Internship), employs critical pedagogy, and draws heavily on the model of Asset-based Community Development.
  • Community-based Research Faculty Fellowships: The Community-based Research Faculty Fellowships supports DePaul faculty who propose research projects in partnership with community-based organizations that incorporate student research linked to a course curriculum. Each Fellow receives a $3,000 stipend, a funded research assistant for three consecutive terms, and financial support to present at an academic conference in the U.S. All projects must be collaboratively developed, driven by the interests of one or more DePaul community partners, and aim to improve the quality of life for residents of Chicago.
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