Strengthening Communities, Enriching Yourself

Elmhurst students find that serving the community also is an educational experience—one in which they learn about the world around them, their academic field and about themselves.

The College has a strong tradition of service beyond campus and our service-learning program dates to the mid-1990s. Each year more than 400 Elmhurst students work to strengthen communities, whether in Chicago, in the suburbs or abroad. Students are enriched as they reflect on the experience and gain a deeper understanding of immense social problems such as domestic violence, poverty and homelessness.

Students tutor elementary school students, help children with special needs, serve homeless people in shelters, assist with English language classes, read to senior citizens and provide assistance to refugee families.

Recent and Long-Term Projects

  • Every January for the past 20 years, Elmhurst students have traveled to Jamaica to teach music and donate instruments and school supplies. These initiatives have helped launch and sustain music and band programs there.
  • A two-week summer service-learning Elmhurst College course in Cape Town, South Africa, for the last 15 years provides students with opportunities to work in a community soup kitchen, an interfaith social-service agency, a pre-school and township schools.
  • Students assist at a local organization that helps veterans and others who have suffered traumatic brain injuries relearn basic life skills.
  • Shelters in the western and northern suburbs that support victims of domestic violence enlist students in fundraising projects.

Your service-learning experience may consist of a few hours of practical coursework, a January Term, spring break or a summer immersion activity. Your efforts can address local, national or international problems.

For more information, contact Mary Walsh at (630) 617-3085 or Ingrid Becton at (630-617-3186).

Mary B. Walsh, Ph.D.

Director, Service Learning; Professor, Political Science
Department of Political Science

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