Why do students become a part of the Community Engagement Fellows program? It's all about engaging with local community. But the ways in which students do so are seemingly endless.

The Community Engagement Fellows is distinctive to Dickinson as a program for students committed to making significant contributions as members of the Dickinson and Carlisle communities.

Students live out the engaged vision through the program's three hallmarks: in-depth community engagement, leadership and awareness and academic connections. These hallmarks provide opportunities to build bridges as engaged citizens, equipping students to be lifelong learners and leaders in their communities in Carlisle and beyond. 

The application for the 2021-2022 Community Engagement Fellows Program is open from Thursday, August 26th to Friday, September 10th.. 

Student Leader 2021-22: Allison Gressett '22

Larger photograph of first year CEF students from 2021-2022

Year 1 Community Engagement Fellows, 2021-2022

Main Components 

Community Engagement - Each Community Engagement Fellow will work with a Carlisle nonprofit service organization for 6-8 hours per week in a consistent, long-term relationship. Community partners serve as mentors, guiding students through a developmental process spanning dedicated volunteer, project assistant and project coordinator while helping students reach personal learning objectives. Students can work as Volunteer Engagers or Specialists at their placements. Volunteer Engagers are responsible for assisting with volunteer engagement on a regular basis (e.g. Dickinson students, but also community depending on needs), recurring projects and one-time events. Specialists will assist in the assigned role by their placement. By undertaking increased responsibility and leadership, students' understanding of personal and social responsibilities and accountability is strengthened and solidified.  

Leadership and Awareness - Interweaving personal and community awareness, ongoing leadership development and community experience, students are challenged to balance ever-changing community needs and personal insights through active learning. Students participate in intentional leadership training seminars, meet alumni in related nonprofit fields and share in group and personal reflection, connecting their service, classwork and personal growth.   

Academic Connections - Community Engagement Fellows are expected to make connections between their classwork, community placements and personal goals. Each student will write an annual community learning agreement, outlining personal and professional learning objects for each year. In the second year, students will integrate their experiences in the community intentionally with one class through a project or reflection paper. In the third year, students have the opportunity to earn an Internship Transcript Notation for their work. 


  • Commitment to participate for two academic years, provided successful completion of performance review in the first year. 
  • Completion of 6-8 hours per week of service with community partner. 
  • Participation in mandatory training (about 1 hour per week).
  • Completion of CEF and Internship Notation Program assignments (INP is in the second year of the program. Examples of CEF assignments include: site visit with CEF staff and communinty partner; reflection papers in second year; and performance evaluations).
  • Completion of clearances (background check) as required for some sites (see position descriptions for details).
  • Maintenance of a minimum 2.5 GPA.
  • Adherence to academic and behavioral expectations as stated by Dickinson college's Community Standards (maintenance of good standing with the College).

Learning Outcomes 

  • Increase understanding of the community needs, needs assessments and community responses through community partnerships. 
  • Develop and build on leadership skills (working with diverse populations, public speaking, social justice, communication styles, power and privilege, time management, etc.) that enhance one's work within the community and classroom.  
  • Participate in regular reflection and assessment of learning goals that enhance and create unique opportunities for each student in each placement. 
  • Move from identifying to articulating, using one's identity, values and interests as the foundation for current community building and discernment of vocation.  
  • Learn grant writing, assessment and review through a potential Capstone project that will open new insights on the interrelated complexities of community organizations and community need.

Developmental Service Levels 

These levels are the key ingredients for Community Engagement Fellows to connect the campus and community in deep, intentional ways. They are designed for students to grow professionally, personally and educationally as they move from dedicated volunteers to project coordinators. 

Year 1: Exploration - Year 1 students will serve as dedicated volunteers (6-8 hours per week) to learn about the organization, recipients and areas of community need. Leadership development will explore personal identity, service and social justice. An application process will occur each fall for this level. 

Year 2: Integration - In their second year, students engage in a deeper understanding with the community partner by working in a specific area of the organization (6-8 hours per week). Students will identify one course with which they will make intentional connections through their placement, bridging learning inside and outside the classroom. At the end of the year, students will prepare a short paper and public presentation addressing the connection they have identified between the chosen course and their placement. In the second year, students participate in the Internship Notation Program. This program requires identified learning objects and four reflection papers (each 1-2 pages) in paternship with the Center for Advising, Internships & Lifelong career Development. Volunteer Engagers will work to create and host a day of service at their placement.

A proposal for a third year will be due in the spring semester of year 2. Year 2 will be paid for 6-8 hours of service each week for the academic year.  

Optional Year 3: Capstone - Building on the community-partner relationship and learning of the first two years, Year 3 students implement a special project at the community placement. Year 3 Capstone students have an opportunity to apply for a grant from the Center for Civic Learning and Action for up to $500 to fund a project at the community placement. In the beginning of the semester, students will attend a grant writing workshop. These grants must be used by the student to advance the mission of the organization, be measurable and be able to be completed within the identified year. The grant process allows students to work with the community partner at a new level to combine community needs, creative thinking and problem solving.   

A proposal for the Capstone level will be due in the prior spring semester, with the specific project grant application due in the fall semester. Year 3 is an optional year after completing the initial two years of the CEF program; students will be paid through work-study funding (6-8 hours per week) and receive an Internship Transcript Notation for their Capstone projects.

Developmental Community Placements

Community placements are with nonprofits capable of providing steady work and opportunities for students. They have strong mentoring supervisors and an interest in a developmental service model within a long-term reciprocal relationship with the college. The developmental aspect requires that a student is challenged each year in a new way to make connections, serve differently or lead in a new capacity.

Learn more about our Developmental Community Placements.

Who We Are 

To learn more about the students who participate in the Community Engagement Fellows program, please visit our Student Profiles.

The video below was made in 2016 (when the program was still referred to as the Montgomery Service Leaders) and highlights the previous members of the program, why they joined the program, and some of the different opportunities that can be created in working with our various community placements.