Division of Student Affairs > Student Life > Community Engagement

Community Engagement

Service Opportunities

Service Immersions 
Students can spend their winter or spring break in service to others, building community and learning about the complex issues facing our world. Students travel to various domestic or international sites.

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The University Ministry Community Service Immersion Program is committed to DePaul University’s Vincentian, Catholic, and urban mission that emphasizes education and compassion through service to persons who are poor. Through the Vincentians in Action (VIA) model, the Service Immersion Program strives to help students understand their service experiences in terms of their diverse faith backgrounds and inner convictions to foster a lifelong commitment to the dignity of each individual. VIA includes three Ways: The Way of Awareness and Appreciation, the Way of Dialogue, and the Way of Solidarity. Each Way provides a framework for students to better comprehend the service experience and reflect upon their own lives in regards to all members of the human community.​ Explore Service Immersion Trips.​

DePaul Community Service Association (DCSA) 
Students can volunteer at one of 20 community service sites located throughout Chicago. These are student-led service opportunities within easy reach of our campus; transportation is provided.

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The DePaul Community Service Association (DCSA) seeks to promote the dignity of all by following the example of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. The function of DCSA is twofold:

  • To provide meaningful volunteer opportunities to DePaul students who serve our community partners in sustained, mutually beneficial relationships
  • To promote reflection and social justice rooted in Vincentian values.
Service & Justice

Get involved in DCSA's 20 student organizations for weekly service, Monday through Saturday, across Chicago (transportation provided) to answer the Vincentian question "What must be done?" in the face of injustice.

How to get involved
  1. Find the DCSA organization on Orgsync​ that fits your interest and schedule.
  2. Contact the Senior Team at DCSA@depaul.edu or 773-325-1193 to get involved.
  3. Come to weekly service and bring a friend!

Service Days 
Students can join over 3,000 DePaul volunteers at 3 university-wide service days serving community partners in Chicago. Service Days are a unique DePaul tradition in which students, staff and faculty are invited to live out our Vincentian heritage together.

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Service Days provide a unique experience of service, reflection, and celebration in the Vincentian spirit on a university-wide scale. DePaul hosts three major annual service days: New Student Service Day, A Day with Vincent - A Faculty & Staff Service Day, and Vincentian Service Day. The goal of service days is to provide a Vincentian experience for all members of the DePaul community, engaging students (undergraduate & graduate), faculty and staff in a day of service, which serves to further establish long-term, mutually beneficial, and sustainable relationships with community partners working on a wide-range of impact issues across the Chicago metro region. Contact Casimiro Peña for details of how to get involved.

Traditionally, Vincentian Service Day occurs on the first Saturday of every May. Volunteers register in advance for a site they want to learn about and volunteer at. After service, the volunteers return to the Lincoln Park Quad for the Service and Justice Fair.

Save the Date for Vincentian Service Day 2016 on Saturday, May 7th!

Community Peacemakers (CPM) 
The Community Peacemakers program is DePaul University's response to youth violence in Chicago. CPM pairs DePaul students with Chicago Public High Schools across the city to serve as college mentors in exploring the roots of violence and promoting peace throughout the schools and community in an effort to reduce violence in the city of Chicago.

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The Community Peacemakers program is DePaul University’s response to youth violence in Chicago. In partnership with the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Service-Learning & Civic Engagement, CPM pairs DePaul students with CPS high school students to serve as college mentors in exploring the roots of violence, promoting peace throughout schools and communities, and engaging in service in an effort to reduce violence in the city of Chicago.

Service & Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and systems of injustice through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders.

Over the course of the year, DePaul students will:
  • Learn about Restorative Justice
  • Partner with CPS teachers and students
  • Facilitate weekly classroom discussions and activities
  • Foster a critical understanding of violence and the alternatives for peace in Chicago
  • Develop and implement a Peace project for Vincentian Service Day on Saturday, May 7th 2016
How to Get Involved

For more information or to get involved, contact Danielle Russell or Nico May.

Political Activist VIA Engagement 
Student activists gather at a quarterly round table dinner to build relationships, share resources and reflect on the successes and challenges as a political/activist student organization.

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Political Activist VIA Engagement (PAVE) serves the activist/political organizations by creating opportunities for dialogue, capacity-building, and reflection rooted in civic and spiritual dimensions of DePaul's mission.

PAVE coordinators will support the DePaul political/activist organizations by building relationships with these organizations’ members. PAVE coordinators will meet with these organizations regularly to engage in reflection and resource sharing. Each quarter PAVE hosts a Roundtable Dinner to create a safe space where the organization members can express their personal successes, challenges and concerns openly and honestly. Weekly, PAVE coordinators will come together to share their experiences and reflect on their justice work through the VIA model. Ultimately, PAVE coordinators’ strive to dedicate themselves to spiritual growth, service, justice, and community building.

Contact Emily LaHood-Olsen via email with questions.

The National Faith and Justice Civic Learning Conference (NFJCL) 

The Vincentian Community Service Office sponsors a national faith and justice civic learning conference every other year drawing over 40 universities and non-profit organizations.

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In the spring of 2007, a group of faculty, staff, and students from state Campus Compact offices and public and private colleges and universities from across the Midwest gathered at St. Mary's College of Notre Dame, Indiana. Motivated by the idea of collectively organizing a national conference focused on the integrative significance of faith, justice, and civic learning in higher education, this group began working together and partnering with others across this country to design and plan the first NFJCL conference in 2009 – with conferences following in 2011 and 2013. To see proceedings from the 2013 conference, go to: http://nfjcl.depaul.edu/

NFJCL Conference Goals:
  1. To disseminate research findings on the intersecting areas of faith, justice, social responsibility, and civic or service-learning.
  2. To share faith perspectives on ideas and practices of justice and social and civic responsibility.
  3. To focus on justice and its relation to civic and service-learning, and/or a faith perspective.
  4. To discuss the practice of service-learning and its impact on faith and vocation at both secular and faith-based education institutions.
  5. To explore the role of reflection, in particular, in connecting faith, service and learning.
  6. To share research and practice of interfaith dialogue and cooperation in higher education.

For more information, contact Karl Nass.

Post Graduate Volunteer Service Opportunities 

Learn how to volunteer in different domestic and international post-graduate volunteer programs to make a difference in people’s lives and in the world. Students can use these tools and resources to see if post graduate service is their next step.

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Are you a senior wondering what to do next year? An exciting array of post-graduate volunteer programs lay before you...everything from a few months to a couple of years, in settings close to home or on the other side of the globe.

Many of these programs offer placements that will stretch your knowledge, your skills and your awareness, better preparing you for graduate school and your future career. You will have the opportunity to work in a professional environment, learning firsthand about community issues and processes for addressing them, while applying your skills in responsible and challenging capacities. You also will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in service, community, simple living, social justice, and faith and spirituality.

For further resources to aid in discovering your next step, please consult:

Post Graduate Volunteer Fair

Thursday, September 30, 2015 from 9:30am - 12:20pm
Lincoln Park Student Center Atrium 
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Every Fall DePaul hosts a Post Graduate Volunteer Fair. The fair offers graduating seniors a great opportunity to meet with over 30 volunteer organizations with a wide variety of opportunities in the US and abroad. For more information contact Emily LaHood-Olsen.

Note: Most postgraduate service programs offer room, board, monthly stipend and health insurance, and the participants live in community.

Benefits of Post-Graduate Service Programs

  • Student Loans Deferment: You can do post-college service even if you have student loans to pay back. Be sure to ask programs about deferment possibilities.
  • AmeriCorps Education Award: You may apply for the AmeriCorps education award through many programs. This $5,500 grant can be applied to past school loans or future education. Ask each program for specifics.
  • Health insurance: Most programs provide some form of health insurance.
  • Financial accommodations: Many programs may also provide transportation (to and from, and while there, etc.), living expenses, stipends, retreats and travel opportunities.
  • Professional Development: You can do almost any kind of work you choose. You can gain work experience for your future desired career or you can try out a new area with no prior experience necessary. Either way, you will be adding to your resume and building the foundation for your future work.
  • Personal development: This service experience, which may include community living, faith practices and advocacy work, offers you the opportunity to further explore your goals, identity and life direction.
  • Exploring the United States: With volunteer programs in all 50 states, you have the chance to explore a new place. If you choose to stay in that area after your service commitment, you will have already established a community of support and friends.
  • Living abroad: With programs in over 100 countries, you may choose to live abroad for a year or more.

Why do I want to be a volunteer?

Everybody decides to volunteer for different reasons... Are you idealistic? Do you want to continue to live as a Vincentian in Action? Do you want to deepen your faith and spirituality? Are you committed to social justice? Do you anticipate personal growth? Do you want to change your life?

What are your motivations for volunteering?
  • Wanting to give back for all you have been given?
  • Personal challenge?
  • Hands-on experience for future career?
  • Something totally different from what you may do in the future?
International or domestic service?
  • Does distance from home matter?
  • Open to expanding or developing completely new friends/support group?
  • Do you prefer an urban or a rural environment?
  • Do you desire brand new experiences in a new place or would you rather stay somewhere that is familiar?
What type of commitment are you prepared to make?
  • Short-term commitment: 3-6 months
  • Long-term commitment: 1-3 years
What types of skills and issues do you want to be engaged in?
  • Are you interested in a particular issue, such as advocacy, business, community organizing, health care, homeless services, legal aid, people who are materially poor, Native Americans, teaching, women’s issues, youth, etc.?
  • What skills and knowledge do you have that you would like to apply in your position?
  • What skills and knowledge would you like to develop through your position?
  • What is your future career path? How will a community-based position better prepare you for that path?
What type of living arrangement suits you?
  • Communal: Do you want to share the common experience with others by living with them?
  • Independent: Do you want to live independently and have the support of a community that you meet with on a weekly or monthly basis?
Do you prefer a faith-based or a secular program?
  • Faith-Based: Are service and spirituality interconnected for you?
  • Secular: Do you want a non-faith-based program emphasizing service, social change, advocacy and/or civic involvement?

Questions to explore with Program Representatives

  • Is loan deferment available if I have student loans?
  • Is room and board included? Stipend?
  • Is simple lifestyle (living on a minimal amount of money) an option or required in the program?
  • Is health insurance offered to the volunteers?
  • Does the program fund prescription medication?
  • Is there an orientation at the beginning and a re-orientation at end of program to get me acclimated to the culture?
  • Is there a support system near the placement site?
  • Are there times throughout the year when the entire group reconvenes to share experiences and information?
  • Is a mentor, spiritual director or mental health counselor accessible?
  • Is language training necessary prior to volunteering or provided for volunteers?
  • Is travel possible during the service commitment? If so, what support does the program offer?
  • Can I bring my own vehicle?
  • Who covers daily travel expenses, repairs and car insurance?
  • Is use of public transportation expected?
  • Does the program pay for transportation to orientation and/or service site? What about the trip home at the end of service commitment?
What type of PLACEMENT does your program offer?
  • What work will I be doing?
  • Do I need to have previous experience?
  • Will you train me to do things I don’t know how to do?
  • How long is your program?
  • Where will I be serving?
What kind of SUPPORT do you provide your volunteers?
  • Will I be trained?
  • What do I do if I have a problem at my placement?
  • Will there be retreats?
  • How often will I interact with other volunteers?