February 22, 2022

Promoting Social Change and Community Involvement

Lewis & Clark’s new Center for Social Change and Community Involvement ​​helps students create meaningful impact in their local and global communities.

Dr. Kayleigh McCauley-Sayer Dr. Kayleigh McCauley-Sayer Credit: Nina Johnson

by Franchesca Schrambling BA ’22

Lewis & Clark students are eager to make a difference in their local and global communities. The college’s new Center for Social Change and Community Involvement, led by Executive Director Dr. Kayleigh McCauley-Sayer, helps them do just that. While a few of the center’s programs were part of the office formerly known as Student Leadership and Service, most of the center’s programs are new or completely reenvisioned.

“We’ve taken the traditions and programs of the former office and scaled them up,” says McCauley-Sayer. “We’ve also created new programs and opportunities, with the hope of making them accessible to a larger population of students. Our offerings reflect our students’ strong commitment to social justice.”

The work of the center is organized around four pillars: 1) the L&C Volunteers Program, 2) leadership development, 3) alternative breaks, and 4) immersion programs. The center partners with other campus offices, academic departments, and community partners to help students make an impact and influence social change.

Students clearing brush with the Center for Social Change and Community Involvement as part of a ... Students clearing brush with the Center for Social Change and Community Involvement as part of a service activity during New Student Orientation.L&C Volunteers Program

Working with established community partners, the center helps match students with various volunteer opportunities around Portland. The goal of this program is to allow students to give back to the community while refining their leadership abilities, communication skills, and community awareness. The center currently partners with 60 community organizations, including Brown Hope, SOLVE, Next Up, HomePlate Youth Services, and Tryon Creek Watershed Council.

Leadership Development

Through skill-building workshops and other avenues, the center provides opportunities for students to learn about their leadership style and how to develop and act on their vision, as well as how to inspire and create opportunities for collaboration.

Alternative Breaks

The center is continuing L&C’s tradition of alternative break programs. In late March 2022, the center will host a trip to Washington, D.C., for spring break. Students will be working with two organizations, Bread for the City and Martha’s Table. Students will be assisting with their food distribution programs, packing groceries, and completing other tasks for each organization. Participants will also be meeting with D.C. members of the Mid-Atlantic Alumni Chapter as well as with others who work in food policy and legislation. Over the long term, the center plans to extend the “alternative break” idea to summer breaks, fall breaks, and winter breaks.

Immersion Programs

The centerpiece of the center’s immersion programs is its new Social Change Innovation Grant Program. This program is designed to help fund student-initiated projects that support transformative social change, innovation, and problem solving. Students are encouraged to submit proposals that address community outreach and education, leadership development, root cause and power analysis, and coalition building. Proposals which directly address racial equity and social justice will be prioritized. Grant recipients may receive an award up to $5,000, and five grants will be given annually. The student proposal application deadline is April 10, 2022, for projects that will be implemented over the summer.

New IMPACT Certificate

As of January 2022, undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in the IMPACT program. This program involves a variety of immersive service-learning experiences, leadership development opportunities, and personal reflection. Upon graduation, they will receive an IMPACT certificate and stole for commencement that signifies their dedication to continued cocurricular learning. Graduating seniors from the class of 2022 who have previously participated in the center’s activities will be able to apply retroactively.

Center for Social Change and Community Involvement