Service Learning & Student Development

Urban Leadership

To enrich the collegiate experience, the Paul Robeson Campus Center Office of Service Learning and Student Development is committed to providing quality, student-centered programs, services, and co-curricular involvement opportunities which enhance the growth and development of students. By educating students to become effective leaders, involved citizens, and critical thinkers we can create an inclusive campus community that promotes social awareness, cultivates a respect for diversity and fosters community development.

THE LENS Experiential Learning Initiative

The Lens Experiential Learning Initiative: Scholarship to Practice Programming Series
This series of forums, lectures, field trips, and film screenings are designed to critically examine urban communities (social, political and economic) here and abroad. The goal is to encourage students and faculty to collaboratively engage learning and critical thinking outside of the classroom. Past Lens Events:

Past Lens Events

International Service Learning and Leadership Exchange

For the past four years, the Paul Robeson Campus Center has been committed to designing student development programming that challenges students as they move through critical stages of identity development. Through a series of intentional service learning initiatives, we offer our seasoned student leaders an opportunity to see the impact they can have as global citizens and social change agents.

The International Service Learning and Leadership Exchange (ISLLE) is the preeminent capstone experience within our student development-programming calendar. These initiatives to Tanzania, Nicaragua and India encourage students to engage models of leadership through a global lens. The Office of Service Learning and Student Development has established collaborative relationships with non-profit organizations and community leaders to create experiential learning opportunities that challenge Rutgers students to collaborate with faculty, student leaders and community organizers who are actively working to create social, political and economic change locally and globally.

Through a partnership with the Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), students earn three academic credits for participating in ISLLE through the Special Topics in Public Service Global Urban Exchange course. This course supplements international service learning initiatives with traditional seminars, readings and assignments to create a holistic educational experience for our future leaders of public and private agencies.

Based in Tanzania and Zanzibar, this partnership with the University of Dar es Salaam and our non-profit allies, prepares and challenges Rutgers students to collaborate with faculty, youth leaders, and community organizers who are actively working to create social, political and economic change within their communities.


1. History and Public Policy Talk with Professor Steven Ndosi
2. School Revitalization and Child Wellness Project at Montessori School and Orphanage
3. Cultural Conservation, Renovation and PhotoVoice Project in Maasailand
4. School Revitalization Project at Korona Community School
5. Detroit Sober House Refurbishment Project
6. Zanzibar Outreach Program Eye Glass Project
7. Zanzibar University Student Leadership Exchange

In Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Central America, preventable maternal mortality and childbirth complications plague the nation. This six-day experiential learning program allows students to see first-hand the challenges developing nations face in public health and work to improve them. In doing so, students have space to engage in critical dialogues on community health and gender with seasoned professionals and activists. Daily debriefing sessions allow students to process and reflect on their experiences, enabling greater understanding of, and appreciation for, their experiential learning opportunity abroad.


1. WE CARE Solar Suitcase Installation
2. Cultural Immersion and Exchange : Rutgers students will develop their communication skills across languages and cultures while broadening their understanding of health and social welfare through exchanges with community members, volunteers, and professionals at our non-profit partner sites:
• Casa Materna Matagalpa
• Los Quinchos Program for Street Children
• Casa del Niño

The latest ISLLE initiative to India allows students to critically examine the inner workings of a unique group of urban public organizations striving for social change. Participants have an opportunity to engage non-profit leaders, stakeholders, and members of the communities they serve. One of the primary goals of this initiative is to explore various forms of grassroots community leadership within India with the intent of understanding how communities can effectively create initiatives that address their needs.


1. Lecture on Past, Present and Future of India
2. Discussion and Workshop at Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT)
3. Community School Restoration Project at Gothadi School
4. Walking Tour and Cultural Immersion with Salaam Baalak Trust

Urban Community Service and Volunteer Program

The Urban Community Service and Volunteer Program, encourages students to become active citizens within the campus and surrounding community. This series of community outreach programs introduces Rutgers Newark students to community service, civic engagement, and co-curricular volunteer opportunities.  The primary goal of this initiative is to introduce students to local organizations that are actively seeking hardworking innovative partners interested in advancing their agencies mission.  The service learning and student development initiative also serves as a campus clearinghouse and resource center for student organizations that are interested in collaborating on larger outreach initiatives.

Annual Programs

Alternative Spring Break:
This experience is open to all Rutgers Newark students and is an intense service learning immersion experience that takes place over the university’s Spring Break. Students are selected by a committee and it is an application and interview based process. During this experience students travel to a location within the United States and attack a pertinent social issue. Through reflections and group activities, participants are challenged to examine this issue and how to create change in their own communities.

Make A Difference Day:
A National Day of service sponsored by USA Today. This event takes place annually on the third Saturday of October and involves student participants volunteering at various locations throughout the city of Newark. Our local partners include:

NJPIRG Weatherization Projects, Goodwill Rescue Mission, Roseville Presbyterian Church, La Casa de Don Pedro, Team Academy, All Stars Project, The Homeless Vets Stand Down and Broadway House

Rutgers-Newark’s Day of Service:
This annual day of service is designated for Rutgers- Newark students and takes place during the third or fourth week of April each spring. Students are split into groups and sent to volunteer at various locations throughout the city of Newark. Local community partners include:

The Apostle’s House, Branch Brook Park, Broadway House, NJPIRG Weatherization, Roseville Presbyterian Church, Boys and Girls Club, La Casa de Don Pedro, Academy Street Firehouse, Goodwill Rescue Mission

Ongoing Programs

Rutgers Against Hunger:
This is a university wide initiative. Throughout the year our student organization’s and departments participate in a food collection. Each month donations are made to our local neighbor, the Apostle’s House. This program also sponsors campus events to encourage donations. Other efforts include the Walk to End Hunger and trips to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

Student Outreach Council:
The Student Outreach Council provides Rutgers Newark students with opportunities to participate in community service initiatives and seeks to create a community of active citizens. The Council will strive to build a relationship between the University and the surrounding Newark community through service activities addressing local social issues. The Council acts as a resource for students and organizations to find and plan service initiatives. The Council is open to all Rutgers Newark students and student organizations who wish to lend a helping hand through service day projects, donation drives, and awareness initiatives. This group also serves student organizations in planning their service event required for ongoing recognition by the Office of Student Life and Leadership. Some examples of projects include painting at local schools, park clean-up and preparing meals at soup kitchens.