Enrolled in a community learning course?

The goal of community learning is to provide you with comprehensive education that prepares you to be a leader in your chosen profession, as well as a productive and responsible citizen in a democratic society.VT Engage works with partners in the New River Valley that focus their work on a variety of social issues. 

Examples of project descriptions for previous community learning courses are below.

Frequently asked questions

Students who work out their community learning arrangements within the first three weeks of the semester have the highest quality experiences and make the most meaningful impacts in their projects. Students who delay in getting started may experience problems in finding a placement, or may miss the required pre-service trainings and orientations that allows them to work at a particular site.

If you experience difficulty in making contact with your partner organization, contact VT Engage at enage@vt.edu. Review the project descriptions carefully to make sure that the activity or organization is a good fit for you.

Your professor has already approved projects that fit the objectives of your course. Read below about projects approved for your class, and then apply for a placement. Your project will include information about pre-service trainings and other requirements.

Yes! Talk to your professor about how they want you to keep track of your progress. If desired, you can download a timesheet template from us to track your hours. 

We chose organizations that address social issues in our communities. We partner with communities and organizations to identify local opportunities for collaborative problem solving that align with everyone’s mission. We invest the university’s intellectual and human resources in the production of mutually beneficial projects, processes, and outcomes, placing the needs of our partners at the same level as our own.

How can I demonstrate what I accomplished? Participate in the engagement showcase VT Engage hosts every April! Students and faculty share their work through a high quality poster exhibit. A call for proposals will be announced in early spring. Take a look at past showcases here.

Project categories & descriptions

Environmental stewardship / disaster response

This organization formed from a coalition of community organizations working on long-term recovery efforts in Greenbrier County, West Virginia which was one of a number of counties that were affected by severe flooding in June of 2016.

Food insecurity / hunger response

Located inside the Wesley Foundation, 209 Manna Ministries is a pantry that provides food, toiletries, and school supplies for college students and their families. Anyone who feels as if they are lacking food and necessities may apply to shop at 209 Manna Ministries. Shopping is based on a point system in which each good is worth a certain amount of points, ranging from 1 to 6 points, and each shopper is allowed 50 points to shop with each week.

Assist with selling Market promotional merchandise and handing out information about the market and local foods in the New River Valley. Operate the market debit system which allows people on SNAP benefits and debit card holders to shop at the market. Assist with planning and implementing special events.

Campus Kitchens Project is national organization that promotes students getting involved combating food waste and hunger. Students in collegiate chapters across the nation collect surplus food from on-campus dining halls and help transform it to healthy meals that are distributed to food insecure individuals in the area. 

Volunteers have devoted over 2,500 hours with the CKVT since its launch in fall 2015. We are now recovering surplus food from three Virginia Tech dining halls six days a week. 10,000+ pounds of recovered food and 400+ meals have been delivered to our community partner, Radford-Fairlawn Daily Bread.

Volunteers assist sorting and inspecting donated food items from area businesses and civic organizations for distribution to a network of food pantries in southwest Virginia.

Setting up, packing bags, loading cars, breaking down packaging, restocking shelves for weekend feeding program at eight Blacksburg schools.

Projects are determined by season. May include accompanying elders to the Farmer’s Market and tending the community garden. Also may include making and distributing lunches to elders, picking up bread in Blacksburg and delivering it to Floyd, then helping with distribution to elders, and assisting with School Gardens.

Radford-Fairlawn Daily Bread (RFDB) provides meals for people in need in Radford and Fairlawn, VA. Students would assist with meal preparation and serving and delivery of meals daily. 

Housing & poverty-related projects

"To promote and support the well-being and self-reliance of individuals, families, and communities." A couple of students are needed to assist with various food pantry and housing assistance programs hosted by Community Action.

"The Community Health Center of the New River Valley's mission is to provide affordable and high quality medical, dental, behavioral and preventive health services to people of all ages and circumstances, regardless of ability to pay or insurance status. We envision a region of healthy and productive people, made possible through accessible and high quality health care services for all. " 

Students will support guests of the NRV Health Center in completing necessary forms and will assist Center staff with program needs.

Radford-Fairlawn Daily Bread (RFDB) provides meals for people in need in Radford and Fairlawn, VA. Students would assist with meal preparation and serving and delivery of meals daily. 

The Women's Resource Center offer a variety of free programs and assistance to women and assistance is provided in the following areas: domestic violence, sexual assault, and legal advocacy. Students will provide assistance with clients as well as the moving and delivery of donated items on Fridays.

Interpersonal connections

Assistance with PetSmart Adoption Program--Cat care at PetSmart (cleaning cages and playing with cats), dog adoption days at PetSmart, assisting members with walking dogs and assisting adopters with the application process.

The Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute (LCI) provides language-related programs and services for academic and professional development. Through its work, the institute contributed to the university's diversity and intellectual capacity by helping to attract the best and brightest international students, scholars, and professionals to the community. Students will be paired with international students in LCI's conversation partner program.

Unified sports participation on weeknights--Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a saying of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Students will engage in companion and activity facilitator with adults living with dementia. These individauls visit Adult Day Services for socialization, exercise, stimulation.     

 Warm Hearth's mission is "to enrich the lives of seniors of all socioeconomic backgrounds through a wide range of choices in housing, services, and care shows how much we care about our residents--and about the Village as a community." Students will engage in one-on-one companionship activities with elders.

Youth & children

4-H is the youth development education program of Virginia Cooperative Extension. 4-H is rich with learning experiences where young people partner with caring adults and volunteers in a fellowship unlike any other program available to youth today. Through 4-H, young people are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities that emphasize 4-H's "learning by doing" philosophy of youth development.

Afterschool Program Assistance--Blacksburg United Methodist Church has worked in the Blacksburg Estates Community for the past several years. Volunteers from the congregation provide tutoring services to the children of the community. They also offer transportation to church, school, sports, and community events and activities, as well as a summer enrichment program. In addition, they host a number of special events designed to bring the entire community together.

Afterschool program assistance at a low-income housing complex. The after school program provides a snack, physical activities, and homework help. It also provides an opportunity for children to discuss their school day as well as their home life.  

LoCo Arts After School provides a safe, creative place for children to learn and grow after school. Afternoons are structured with hands-on, direct instruction in countless creative media including painting, drawing, sculpture, earth art, traditional handcrafts, and more. The program allows each child time for self-directed exploration, downtime/relaxation, and the opportunity to build a creative community.

Mayapple is a nonprofit preschool program for children ages 2.5-6 located in Newport, VA. Our arts and nature-based curriculum focuses on meaningful, interdisciplinary learning that helps children build relationships and connect with the world around them.

Reading program with pre-school age children at various child centers. Students are paired with one child or a group of children to work on literacy skills.

Non-endorsement statement

Most of VT Engage’s community partners are independent of Virginia Tech and do not necessarily represent the opinions or beliefs of our faculty, staff, or administration. We partner with organizations and individuals whose goals align with our mission, but hold a wide range of opinions on political, religious, and social issues. Therefore, students participating in our programs may find themselves in situations where their personal views come into conflict with those of others.

We encourage students to see these differences as an opportunity to better understand the perspectives and beliefs of others through dialogue and reflection. However, any student who feels threatened, unsafe, or unreasonably uncomfortable is encouraged to remove him or herself from the situation and alert a VT Engage program leader.