Local Service, Education, and Leadership

Dickinson students working at the Farmers on the Square market

Dickinson College, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania possesses strong partnerships with many local organizations, businesses, and government entities that create civic engagement opportunities.

Dickinson is a leading partner in the Greater Carlisle Project, association of people, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, businesses and local governments working together to improve the quality of life for all people in the communities of the Greater Carlisle Area by enhancing long-term social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Some local sustainability projects include:

Bicycle and Pedestrian Friendly Streets
Dickinson helped Carlisle Borough obtain a $2.8 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the Road Diet, a project that reduced traffic lanes through downtown Carlisle, added bike lanes, and calmed traffic. The Road Diet grant leveraged additional grant funds of nearly $200,000 for upgrades to the LeTort Nature Trail. The impetus for these projects was a $50,000 traffic study paid for by Dickinson College.

Civic Visions
Spurred by Governor Edward Rendell's Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ), and the Governor's observation that colleges are drivers of economic growth in their communities, Dickinson engaged Civic Visions, headed by George Thomas '66 and Susan Snyder, to launch a process of meetings, interviews and group sessions to examine the potential role of the college in the community. The initiative was supported by a $30,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development and a $30,000 match raised by Dickinson. A comprehensive report was produced in 2005 that helps guide Dickinson's participation in the life of Carlisle.

CONNECT with Youth
CONNECT offers a four-week summer program for at-risk, low-income middle school youth that integrates health education, academic enrichment, cultural activities, leadership, career exploration and community service. Led by Joyce Bylander, CONNECT is a partnership between Dickinson College, the Carlisle Arts Learning Center, the YWCA, Carlisle Area School District and the United Way, and is funded in part by the Partnership for Better Health.

D.I.G. Camp
An outdoor educational summer day camp for youth rising into grades 4-6 is offered at the Dickinson College Farm. Dickinson College's Center for Sustainability Education (CSE), Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM), and Farm come together to provide a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity focused on sustainability.

Farmers on the Square
The Dickinson Organic Farm worked with other farmers and partners to establish a farmers' market that operates in downtown Carlisle spring through fall, and on the Dickinson campus in winter. The market provides the community with fresh produce, dairy, meats and other products from within a 50-mile radius. The Dickinson farm also supplies farm produce to 80 families who are members of its Campus Supported Agriculture program.

Financial Support for Local Agencies
Dickinson College, a tax exempt non-profit institution, voluntarily keeps many of its properties on the local tax rolls and pays $300,000 per year in real estate taxes to Carlisle Borough, the Carlisle school district, and Cumberland County. In addition to its voluntary tax payments, Dickinson makes a voluntary annual "payment in lieu of taxes" of $50,000 to the Borough. Dickinson also contributes $50,000 per year to the Downtown Carlisle Association, which strives to enhance the civic, cultural, and economic vitality of the community. These payments to local entities help provide infrastructure and services that are vital for a sustainable community.

Food and Clothing for Neighbors in Need
Project S.H.A.R.E, an interfaith social service agency founded and directed by a Dickinson alumna, operates rent free on the Dickinson campus to provide food, clothing, and nutritional education to individuals and families in need. In addition to providing 10,000 square feet of rent-free space to Project S.H.A.R.E, the Dickinson Farm donates produce, and many members of the Dickinson community donate time and money to the organization.

Environmental Education
The Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) partners with local K-12 teachers and youth-based organizations to teach students of all ages and abilities about aquatic ecosystems and connect them to their local environment. Lesson plans are adjusted based on student age and the needs of teachers and partner organizations, with an emphasis on local connections and community engagement.

High I Partnership
Based on a recommendation from the CivicVisions report, the High I Partnership (HIP) was created in January 2006. The HIP, co-chaired by President Bill Durden, is comprised of local business, community, educational and governmental leaders. The Partnership acts as a catalyst for development, a forum for discussion, and a means to harness resources to transform Carlisle into a vibrant and sustainable 21st century downtown. HIP engaged a consultant to conduct a retail study for Carlisle that resulted in the Downtown Carlisle Association (DCA) hiring a retail coordinator to recruit businesses to the downtown. Dickinson paid the $100,000 cost of the study and community partners paid $95,000 for the initial salary and other expenses of the marketing initiative.

Outreach and Education at the Dickinson College Farm
Dickinson's 50-acre organic certified farm, a living laboratory for the college, hosts a variety of programs for the wider community. Monthly Sustainability Workshops, offered in partnership with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), provides fun, hands-on learning about homesteading, homemaking and backyard conservation. Farm, Cook, Eat teaches elementary school children about healthy food and land stewardship.

Stormwater Education and Watershed Protection
Dickinson's Alliance for Aquatic Resources Monitoring (ALLARM) partners with the Borough of Carlisle, Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited and the LeTort Regional Authority to educate the public about stormwater runoff and its effects on the Letort Spring Run, and promote stream-conscious behaviors to protect and improve the local watershed. 

Trail Network
Dickinson College joined with Carlisle Borough in providing matching funds of $25,000 and $60,000 respectively to leverage $740,000 in state and other grants to extend and connect a network of biking and walking trails in the Borough.

At the end of each school year, Dickinsonians donate unwanted items, appliances, furniture, and clothing to collection centers in residences and the HUB.  The donations are then sold at "Carlisle's Largest Community Yard Sale," the U-Turn Sale.  The event takes place at Carlisle Fairgrounds and all of the proceeds go to the United Way of Carlisle & Cumberland County. U-Turn encourages environmental and social sustainability by encouraging reuse, cutting down landfill use during move-out, and providing affordable goods to the local community. The 2015 sale was the most successful ever, with over $15,000 raised for United Way.