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St. Thomas of ֱ Center for the Common Good

Volunteer students in front of stained glass, wall reads: "So you say you love the poor... Name them."

Recognizing the dignity of all creation, the Center for the Common Good works with students, alumni, community partners, and campus collaborators to promote the formation of justice-oriented people who serve with our local and global partners and who advocate for systems that advance the Common Good. 

In the spirit of veritas, we believe in speaking to the injustices in our world and the importance of reflecting on our collective and personal role in perpetuating and dismantling the systems that diminish the dignity of creation.  

In the spirit of unitas, we believe all people are active participants in the building of a more just world. Working together to discover a vision of the common good, we all become mutual recipients of a shared hope. 

In the spirit of caritas, we believe all our work, service and advocacy must be rooted in a mutual love that calls us to a community larger than ourselves where the thriving of one is only possible with the thriving of all. 

This is our vision of the Common Good rooted in St. Augustine who said, "No one shall perform any task for his or her own benefit but all your work shall be done for the common good, with greater zeal and more dispatch than if each one of you were to work for yourself alone. For charity [caritas], as it is written, is not self-seeking (1 Cor 13:5) meaning that it places the common good before its own, not its own before the common good. So whenever you show greater concern for the common good than for your own, you may know that you are growing in love [caritas]." (Rule of St. Augustine, Chapter 5.2) 

The St. Thomas of ֱ Center for the Common Good is located in St. Rita Hall. For general inquiries to any staff member, please email us at commongood@villanova.edu.

Building solidarity through education, research, advocacy and service. Since 2005, ֱ has had an institutional partnership with Catholic Relief Services, collaborating to advance global solidarity through education, research, advocacy and service.


Catholic Relief Services gives active witness to the mandate of Jesus Christ to respond to human needs by:

  • responding to victims of natural and man-made disasters
  • providing assistance to the poor to alleviate their immediate needs
  • supporting self-help programs which involve people and communities in their own development
  • helping those it serves to restore and preserve their dignity and to realize their potential
  • collaborating with religious and non-sectarian persons and groups of goodwill in programs and projects which contribute to a more equitable society
  • helping to educate the people of the United States to fulfill their moral responsibilities in alleviating human suffering, removing its causes and promoting social justice

VU Partnership with CRS

In May of 2005, CRS and ֱ signed a Memorandum of Understanding, a formal agreement to work collaboratively to advance global solidarity through education, research, advocacy and service.


On October 27, 2015 ֱ and Catholic Relief Services signed a collaborative agreement on activities related to CRS' programming in Madagascar that includes: improving the health and nutrition of pregnant women and children, increasing and diversifying household incomes, alleviating the impact of natural disasters, and accessing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Partnership Goals

The goal of the CRS/ֱ partnership is to promote a mutually consultative collaboration that is integrated into the University’s mission to promote the global common good. The partnership will provide an interdisciplinary approach with programs including:

  • CRS Ambassadors who engage their peers on issues such as sustainability, food security, human rights, climate change and social justice
  • Overseas summer internships with CRS/Madagascar and CRS Headquarters in Baltimore
  • Partnering with CRS on research, advocacy, service and education efforts
  • CRS staff and beneficiaries who share their experiences 
  • Events for students to meet professionals who work in the fields of international development and humanitarian relief

Advisory Board

    Partnership Administration

  • Fr. Kevin DePrinzio, OSA, Director
  • Daniel L. Griffin, Program Director
  • Maureen McCullough, JD (CRS)
  • Danielle Corea (CRS)

    College of Nursing
    Law School

  • Michele Pistone

    Student Ambassadors

  • Claire Leroux

    School of Business
    College of Engineering

  • Iain Hunt

    Center for Peace and Justice Education

  • Kathyn Getek Soltis


    • Make your through Catholic Relief Services.

    • Find from Catholic Relief Services.  


ֱ's Partnership Coordinator and CRS Ambassadors' Advisor:
Dan Griffin





The RUIBAL Challenge is a first-year-only service program that offers volunteers the opportunity to serve K-8 students in Philadelphia schools and community centers on a weekly basis. In addition to weekly service, volunteers grow in tight-knit community with the other members of their service group, take part in events that talk about social injustices present at the schools we serve, and advocate for positive change.  Contact Marcy Andersen for more information and to register.

RUIBAL is a weekly program in which first-year students serve K-8 students in Philadelphia schools and community centers through tutoring, mentoring, and building mutually-beneficial friendships with the children at service. ֱ students are put in groups with fellow ֱns who have a passion for service and justice work. Volunteers bond with the other members of their service group, take part in events that talk about social injustices present at the schools where we serve, and examine the ways in which their own lives are impacted by these injustices. 

RUIBAL volunteers commit to serve for three hours one day each week throughout the semester. Opportunities are offered Monday-Friday between the hours of 1:45-6pm. 

Registration for the Fall 2024 semester is OPEN! Complete the registration form TODAY so you don't miss it! Priority registration will be given to those who complete the registration form by the end of the day on Friday, September 1. Email the Ruibal Team with questions or concerns. We would love to have you join us!

What to expect

RUIBAL offers weekly opportunities for volunteers to travel to Philadelphia schools and community centers to serve at their after-care programs as tutors and mentors.  Each group is led by 2-3 sophomore leaders who coordinate all the logistics of service: they drive the RUIBAL group to and from a school, serve alongside you, and lead the group in reflection and conversation during the van rides.  While your group is not at service, RUIBAL Leaders facilitate a strong sense of community within the group, lead the group in reflection opportunities, and facilitate group bonding.

Volunteers are assigned to serve at one of our five partner sites. Each site is unique in terms of how volunteers spend their time serving. At one school, we serve through one-on-one tutoring with homework or whatever subject the teacher assigns. In others, it is a mix of homework help, helping with snack/crafts/clubs, and playing with the students during free time. As a whole, our service is based on creating real, life-giving relationships with the students.

Groups serve Monday-Friday and volunteers are assigned to serve once a week. Depending on the school, RUIBAL volunteers will leave campus at either 1:45, 2:00, 2:30, or 3:00 and return within three hours of their departure time. In the registration process, you tell us your schedule, and we will assign you to a site accordingly, if a slot is open (keep in mind, you must have the full 3 hour time chunk available in order to be placed). Placements are first come, first served.

Where We Serve

Here are the schools / partners we serve each week:

Three Pillars of RUIBAL

  1. Service
    Empower youth to value education by serving as a positive influence in their lives. RUIBAL volunteers build mutually-beneficial relationships with the youth they meet at service. Youth at service sites notice when RUIBAL volunteers are absent because our volunteers leave a lasting impact on the students at service, and RUIBAL volunteers feel like part of their week is missing when they are unable to attend service. Because of this, RUIBAL encourages volunteers to attend service as often as possible, making a true effort to have service become a way of life and not an activity that is "done."

  2. Relationships
    Form meaningful relationships with your peers and youth!

  3. Social Justice
    Better your understanding of the various ways social issues show up for yourself and our community members.

During the Spring of 2020, ֱ students told the students at their partner schools how much they miss them during the coronavirus pandemic. They speak words of encouragement and gratitude, and they look forward to when they can be with their RUIBAL partners again. We hope it give you a sense of the spirit of RUIBAL!

COV_2023_Spring_StFrancisInn_Prof 3E

Community Outreach of ֱ (COV)

is a weekly volunteer service program that partners with community-based organizations in the Philadelphia area working to create lasting social change. Participants are able to gather with others from diverse backgrounds around a common purpose, deepen their commitment to service, learn about the social justice issues that underlie the need for service, and reflect on who they feel called to become in light of this experience.

We would LOVE to have you serve with us! We are still looking for volunteers for the Fall 2024 semester and registration is open now.

Volunteers are placed on a first-come first-served basis, so be sure to !




Any ֱ student is welcome to volunteer with COV. We encourage volunteers to commit to a full semester of weekly service at one site so as to offer consistency and reliability to our partner organizations. There are, however, opportunities for volunteers to serve once or twice a semester at our service sites that do not work with kids or adult English language learners.

Volunteers build relationships with those they serve. Through this, they are expected to make efforts to learn about the individuals, experiences and social forces that shape the communities in which they serve. Volunteers also commit to fostering community within their volunteer group by participating in conversations during their van rides to and from service and attending COV events. We hope that this kind of intentional service experience fosters transformation in volunteers such that they not only continue to value service in their lives, but also work toward social change for those living on the margins of society.


COV Leaders are volunteers who have worked with a particular community partner and want to guide other volunteers in becoming a part of that community. 


Leaders maintain close relationships with the community partners throughout the year, and are the primary contact with the organization on service days. Leaders take attendance, provide transportation to and from the service experience, and foster community within their volunteer groups.


Leaders provide a brief orientation on the community partner’s history and mission before every service experience. They lead volunteers through the service experience and facilitate reflection, helping groups process the experience on the way back to campus.

COV Core

The Core is comprised of a small group of dedicated students who develop the future direction of the programs and partnerships of COV. The Core consists of three roles that work interdependently: logistics, formation, and advocacy and education.


Service isn’t just about the doing of work but about encountering people, learning their names and their stories, and dignifying them by sharing their names and stories with others. 

Service leads us to ask, "Who do I become in light of these stories? What must I do to make these voices heard?" Thus, reflection is a critical component of service. COV volunteers engage in reflective conversations on their van rides back from service each week. Reflections encourage COV volunteers to learn about the justice issues and systemic factors that condition the need for service.

These reflections allow us to create a space in which to come together and process our experiences. The goal of reflections is to create a justice-based framework through which students can process their service experience in an effort to bridge the gap between charity and solidarity. The hope is to redefine understandings of neighbor, to call volunteers to examine all that they are learning about themselves and those they serve, and to shape future activists.

Whom, Where and When We Serve

The opportunities listed below are what we expect to offer for Fall 2023. However, we will be updating this section periodically if any changes or additions arise.

Financial Literacy Outreach at

Mondays, 9:30-11:30 AM

The ֱ Financial Literacy Outreach program is a weekly program that partners with OMS/St. Ignatius School in West Philadelphia, and teaches middle schoolers about basic financial concepts. Through the program, students will bond with the students and other volunteers, deepen the student understanding of financial concepts and their importance, and ignite lasting positive change in the community. For the Fall semester, the program will take place on Monday mornings. All are welcome!

Soup Kitchen

Mondays, 3–7 PM  

SFI is a welcoming community grounded in care and respect for every person’s human dignity. SFI offers volunteers an opportunity to interact with guests in a restaurant-style setting. Volunteers may be asked to participate by serving guests, busing tables, cleaning dishes or organizing the pantry.


Mondays, 4:45–6:45 PM

NCS believes that every child has the potential to transform him- or herself—no matter their background or life situations. Volunteers spend an hour one-on-one with students, tutoring them in basic math, science and reading. The day often ends with free time/play. 

* (RUIBack At It)

Tuesdays, 3–6 PM

At North Light, volunteers serve as tutors and/or mentors for students enrolled in the school's aftercare program. Volunteers can expect to help with homework, snack, play outside, and organize crafts or other fun activities!

Community Shelter

Tuesdays, 5-7:30PM

Breaking Bread Community Shelter is homeless shelter for singles and is pet-friendly. It is the culmination of the vision and work of the Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREHUP), a student organization birthed out of ֱ that has spread to other campuses throughout greater Philly. Volunteers help build community with the residents by playing games, watching movies, sharing meals together, helping residents with resumes and housing applications, and other fun activities.


Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-9PM

Through the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in South Philadelphia, volunteers will serve as tutors and work one-on-one or at a table with adult English learners, whose skills may range from beginner to advanced, in the context of an ESOL class taught by parish volunteers.

* (RUIBack At It)

Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2:30–5:45 PM

At St. Laurence volunteers serve as tutors and/or mentors for students enrolled in the school's aftercare program. Volunteers can expect to help with homework, snack, play outside, and organize crafts or other fun activities!

University City Hospitality Coalition Soup Kitchen

Wednesdays, 5–7:30 PM  

University City Hospitality Coalition offers a hot meal to anyone who may need it. Volunteers are responsible for serving the food, carrying trays, pouring tea, cleaning up and visiting with guests. The soup kitchen is housed in Episcopal Cathedral.


Wednesdays, 6–9 PM

ADROP’s mission is to is to build bridges between providers, recipients and community leaders across economic, political and religious spectra. COV volunteers will serve as tutors with adult English learners. They also will have the opportunity to learn Spanish from their tutoring partners. The classes takes place 6:45–7:45.

* (RUIBack At It)

Thursdays, 3–6 PM

At St. I's / OMS, volunteers serve as tutors and/or mentors for students enrolled in the school's aftercare program. Volunteers can expect to help with homework, snack, play outside, and organize crafts or other fun activities!

Fr. Bill Atkinson

Fridays, 2–4:15 PM 

The Fr. Bill Atkinson Service Corps serves individuals with disabilities and meets for fun and fellowship while engaging in exercise, cooking, arts, music, and life skills. A key component of the Service Corps is service projects such as natural environment clean-up, fundraising for cancer research, gathering canned goods for Thanksgiving, and recycling at the Haverford Community Recreation Center (CREC). Volunteers will partner with adults with disabilities to enhance confidence, independence, and health through community opportunities consistent with Catholic values.


Fridays, 12:45-3 PM at St. Laurence School

This science learning program is designed to engage elementary-age students with science. Volunteers prepare fun experiments and then work with students as they complete them, helping students to learn about different science topics.

Saturdays, 11:15 AM-2:15 PM

Run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, HFNH offers the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity. Volunteers serve through forming relationships with residents by serving lunch, visiting with them as they eat, and assisting as needed.  

One hour a week, worked out with your group and according to a flexible schedule.

The Monastery on campus is home to many Augustinians, particularly those who are elderly and infirm. Volunteers should be able to visit with the residents and form personal relationships with some of the wisest men on campus. For those interested in working in healthcare or chaplaincy, the Monastery and its medical floor provide a unique opportunity to serve the friars while also growing relational and pastoral skills.

*Sites are open ONLY to volunteers who have completed or plan to complete all required clearances to work with minors. Please contact us for information regarding the clearance process.

Giving back to our community during the holiday season!

Each year we are reminded how the ֱ community is tremendously generous. The goal of our Holiday Outreach programs is to create opportunities for ֱ community members to learn more about some of our wonderful community partners and give of their time and resources to support our partners and the families they provide services to. We extend continuous and sincere gratitudes to the many ֱ community members on and off campus who have made participating in our Holiday Outreach programs an annual tradition, and hope to inspire new folks to join us in these efforts each year! 

Thanksgiving Outreach

Thanksgiving outreach happens in late October through Thanksgiving and includes donating boxes of Thanksgiving meal supplies and/or Shoprite cards for families to purchase their own holiday meal items. In addition to donating meal boxes, volunteers are also needed to assist with the collection and delivery of the meal boxes on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.

Our Thanksgiving Outreach program is a great opportunity for ֱ faculty, staff, students, and alumni to give back to our outstanding community partner organizations. Starting at the end of October, members of the ֱ community are invited to consider pledging donations of complete Thanksgiving meal boxes. Then, the Monday of Thanksgiving week, ֱ community members are asked to drop off their pledged donation boxes at the Connelly Circle so the boxes can be packed up in ֱ vans and delivered to our community partners. We suggest student groups, staff or academic departments, and/or friend groups work together to pledge an amount of boxes that feels manageable for them. Individuals are also invited to pledge in the same way. 

In addition to meal boxes, we also collect ShopRite gift cards in the amount of $50 that are donated to some of our community partners so families receiving the gift cards can purchase their own items for their holiday meal. 

We are so grateful for the many ways the ֱ community shows up for our community. Please consider joining our Thanksgiving Outreach efforts this year! See additional information on how to get involved and more about our community partners below. 

How to Get Involved 

Thank you for supporting our 2023 Thanksgiving Outreach program! Be on the lookout next year for information on how to be involved with our 2024 drive.

Volunteer Needs

We have lots of need for Volunteers!

Volunteers are needed to help unload and load, organize, and count donation boxes as they are dropped off to the Connelly Circle.

Volunteers are also needed to drive university vehicles to and from our community partner locations to deliver meal boxes and gift cards.

If you need more information or have questions about volunteering, please email Marcy at givingoutreach@villanova.edu.

Meal Box and Gift Card donation Information

We are in need of meal boxes and gift cards. 65 $50 Shoprite cards are needed to support some of our community partners.

Please begin with a sturdy box and then fill it with:

  • 2 jars of turkey gravy
  • 2 jars of apple sauce
  • 4 cans of seasonal vegetables
  • 2 cans of cranberry sauce
  • 3 or 5lb bag of potatoes (not canned)
  • 2 boxes of stuffing
  • Pack of dinner rolls (placed on top)

Please also supply a 15lb turkey (not larger) and a fresh, non-frozen, pie separate from the box so the items do not become crushed. Please place the turkey and pie in their own individual plastic bags. 

In addition to turkeys, we are also in need of frozen chickens so our Community Partners can provide options to the families. If you would rather supply a chicken instead of a turkey, please be encouraged to do so.

Christmas Outreach 

Christmas outreach happens in late November through the end of December. Our Christmas Outreach offerings reach a wide range of children and families in the greater Philadelphia region. ֱ community members are invited to "Adopt-a-Family '' through North Light Community Center, to donate gift cards to various community partner organizations, and/or to contribute to a local Parish's Amazon Wish List Toy Drive. ֱ community members are also encouraged to volunteer their time collecting and distributing gifts in the weeks leading up to Christmas. 

If you are interested in supporting any of these efforts or would like to learn more, please see the information below. If you have any questions or would like to express your interest directly, please reach out to Marcy Andersen. 

More About Our Community Partners

We partner with some of our community partners to offer a range of opportunities to support local individuals and families during the Christmas Holiday season. Please read about the three different ways you can provide support and complete our .


The Philadelphia Area Social Justice Internship (PASJI) is sponsored by the Center for Peace and Justice Education and the St. Thomas of ֱ Center for the Common Good. The program provides ֱ undergraduates a funded opportunity to do social justice work in the greater Philadelphia region over the summer, accompanied by opportunities for shared reflection among the student cohort.

  • This will be an 8-week internship for 20-25 hours/week from June 3-July 26, 2024.
  • Stipend is $3,000.
  • Cohort gatherings and formational opportunities will take place throughout the process.
  • Each gathering or opportunity will include a short reading or media content to enhance learning and discussion.

Internship Details

Internship responsibilities can include but must extend beyond basic administrative support. Students should be engaged in either content-driven work fundamental to the organization’s social justice mission and/or direct contact with the communities served by the organization.

There are four designated internship opportunities for 2024 and five internship positions. Each site will host one or two interns. Alternatively, one position could be alloted to a student who secures a social justice internship with an organization outside the four listed.

To search for social justice internships, students may wish to consult Handshake and consider the suggested Peace and Justice search criteria. Students may then present a proposal for inclusion in the summer program with their own internship.

Integral to the internship community is a commitment to spend time with other interns discussing social justice topics and engaging in reflection and community sharing.

Check back in January 2024 for more information.
Check out a by 2019 Intern, Lailany!
If you have questions, reach out to Josh Kammerer.

Internship Placements

VU | CRS Partnership Overview

The VU | CRS Partnership Internship provides students with the opportunity to learn and engage in advocacy campaigns, awareness-raising initiatives, and community mobilization focused on global social justice issues. Leveraging resources from the CRS University Program and Catholics Confront Global Poverty Initiative, students will design promotional and advocacy campaigns for the ֱ CRS Ambassadors, a campus student group dedicated to promoting engagement with the work of Catholic Relief Services. The central themes currently emphasized by the CRS Ambassadors are migration, climate change, and human trafficking.

Social Justice Connection

Interns will gain exposure to global advocacy, partnerships, and issues such as migration, climate change, and more.

Possible Work Assignments

Based at the VU | CRS Partnership office at ֱ, interns will contribute to developing advocacy resources. They may collaborate with the CRS Regional Office for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in Media, PA, as well as with the CRS Advocacy Office in Washington, DC. Attendance at the CRS National Conference in the Washington, DC area, likely held in June (exact dates TBA), is mandatory for interns. 

Bethel Community Life Center Overview

The Bethel Community Life Center andare a ministries of Bethel African-Methodist Episcopal Church in Ardmore, PA. Founded in 1895 by Black residents of the Mainline, Bethel AME is heavily involved in the local community, hosting social justice programs that address food insecurity, educational inequality, public health, and many other needs in the community. The current pastor Rev. Carolyn C. Cavaness has been instrumental in leading the congregation in founding the the Ardmore Victory Gardens, a community garden that grows fresh produce to supply food banks throughout the area.

Social Justice Connection

The work will focus on a number of social justice issues. The community garden work addresses both sustainability and creation-care, as well as access increasing food security and access to healthy produce. The vaccine clinics create opportunities to address public health concerns. The Juneteenth celebration invites the community into the liberating work of anti-racism and the cause of social equity, and the music series focuses on building community partnerships and highlighting local artists.

Possible Work Assignments

The specifics of the internship can be worked out between the needs of Bethel AME Church and the interests of the intern. If the intern is more heavily interested in the community garden, the intern could support the work of the community garden, which will be relocated for Summer 2024 to Haverford College. The Community Garden will host tea workshops, "How to Harvest" workshops, and tactile and thematic site visits for the community. The intern could assist in making site visits to multiple home-based gardens to those who need assistance for accessibility reasons. The intern might meet with local youth once a week to share about some aspect of the work of the community garden.

If the intern is more drawn to other aspects of community outreach, the intern might be involved in the planning and execution of the vaccine clinic, the Juneteenth celebration, and the community music series. A combination of foci may be worked out with the site.

Driving around may be a part of this internship, so the ability to become a vehicle-certified driver with ֱ would be a requirement. Regardless of the intern's emphasis, participation and assistance at the Juneteenth celebration will be required.

CCATE Overview

At CCATE, our internships, whether virtual or in person, revolve around the strengths, skills, and interests of students who join us. Key requirements for our interns include motivation and initiative, especially given the current context of virtual communication and online operations.

Social Justice Connection

Embedded in CCATE's mission is the objective to "develop and empower the Latinx community through the promotion of culture, art, work training, and education" (CCATE, 2020). CCATE is both composed of and operated by the community it aims to impact. The organization values community insights and assets as valuable inputs, recognizing that members are the masters and curators of creative solutions. The lack of a hierarchical structure at CCATE fosters a belief that everyone can be a leader, acknowledging that each member has something to offer and is a valuable addition to the team.

Possible Work Assignments

Internships at CCATE focus on three areas, each supervised by a CCATE staff member. While interns will interact with all CCATE staff regularly, they will work most closely with the staff member assigned to their area.

  • Communications and Outreach (Supervised by Obed Arango)
    Examples of work in this area include website content development andmaintenance, content translation into Spanish, storytelling through social media (monthly newsletter, blog, etc.), high school immigration podcast and media, and virtual fundraising.
    Related skills or interests
    Communication skills in Spanish, writing in Spanish (a plus), knowledge of platforms or technologies for extending outreach and communication, film/video, media, journalism.
  • Programs and Administration (Supervised by Charlotte Stone)
    Examples of work in this area include teaching a class or tutoring students, tracking donations and sending donor letters, researching and planning curriculum for a summer program.
    Related skills or interests
    Teaching or content development skills, expertise in specific content areas, working with youth and families.
  • Research and Strategic Planning (Supervised by Holly Link)
    Examples of work in this area include administrative work related to strategic planning, online research (reading and synthesizing existing research and participatory research methods), data collection and compilation.
    Related skills or interests
    Strong writing skills, qualitative and community-based participatory research.

ADROP Overview

In 2004, Jack Deegan, O.S.A., founded the Augustinian Defenders Of The Rights Of The Poor (Adrop). Bringing together leaders, service providers, and volunteers, Fr. Deegan initiated an assessment of the needs of the impoverished in South Philadelphia. Subsequently, our 150 volunteers and leaders have positively impacted the lives of over 1,000 families in the South Philadelphia area.

Social Justice Connection

The focus of our work encompasses various social justice issues, allowing for customization based on the intern's interests. Adrop's ministries primarily revolve around immigration, mass incarceration, and access to healthcare.

Possible Work Assignments

Adrop offers two potential internships—one centered on ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and the other on accessible healthcare. The healthcare position caters to students interested in general public health issues or nursing students seeking direct healthcare experience. When applying, please specify the internship position of interest. If applying for the healthcare position, indicate whether you are a nursing student.

Position One

Position Two

PostGrad JJM E

Taking part in a postgraduate volunteer program after ֱ can be a meaningful way to serve in marginalized communities and engage questions of social justice and solidarity. With over 200 secular and faith-based service organizations to choose from, we recommend you research and speak with friends and mentors about your desire for service.

Why Choose Postgrad?

Some of the many reasons grads answer the call to serve include:

  • Experience during college on a Service and Justice Experience, COV, RUIBAL, MLK Day of Service or St. Thomas of ֱ Day of Service
  • Openness to encountering different cultures
  • Desire to live out their faith
  • Desire to live in a community
  • Willingness to place oneself at the margins of society
  • Recognition of benefits (graduate student scholarships, real-life experience in a supportive setting, travel)
  • Note: Service areas, housing, loan deferment and other benefits differ with each program.

Postgrad Events and Programs

The Postgraduate Service fair happens annually in November when over 30 postgraduate organizations join us at ֱ in November. Check back for more details!. This "Open House" style event is a great opportunity to get to know a wide range of programs.

  • To let us know you'd like to learn more about postgrad and to register for events, please click the button "Fill Out Interest Form.
  • For programs who wish to attend, please fill out

Program Directory

  • : RSVP for the Fair on November 14

Leading by Example

Meet some of the recent grads who have committed to a year or more of service.

  • Bridget LaSala |DzԻܰ
  • Erika Scales |Բⲹ
  • Emily Curtis || Chicago
  • Lindsey Larivee || Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • Pat Slatteryn || Dallas
  • Cathy Nguyen || Ashland, MT
  • Sydney Stewart || Guyana
  • Sarah Devoe || Bristol, RI

Questions?Contact Abigail Gorman.

Service and Justice Experiences (SJEs) offer students the chance to build meaningful connections with fellow ֱns and community partners dedicated to promoting justice during University breaks. Grounded in Augustinian, Catholic values of truth, unity, and love, SJEs welcome all students, irrespective of faith identity, who are willing to thoughtfully engage with social issues and contribute to the common good.

During the semester break, small groups embark on a one-week immersion experience with their partner community to:

  • Foster community
  • Gain firsthand experiences and insights into the lives of the people they encounter
  • Participate in service
  • Engage in social analysis on a specific theme
  • Share in group reflection

To lead a fall or spring SJE

  • Build community with your group before, during, and after your immersion.
  • Be the main point of contact between your group and your community partner.
  • Fill out the . Priority deadline is April 15, 2024. The application will remain open until all spots are filled.
  • Participate in a short, informal interview with the SJE Leadership Team.

To participate

  • Bring an open mind and an open heart.
  • Be willing to listen attentively, share honestly, serve generously, and question passionately.
  • Complete the fall participant application form by Tuesday, September 3, 2024. Applications for participants for fall 2024 SJEs will open in August.

Program Details

  • Attend three SJE program trainings, Commissioning, and a Post-Immersion Reflection session.
  • Participate in “coffee dates,” “challenge activities,” or other community-building or learning opportunities.
  • Abide by the SJE program guidelines.

Fr. Ray Jackson

Fr. Ray Jackson Fund

A fund established by Fr. Ray's supporters offers financial grants to students engaged in providing direct service to impoverished and marginalized people in the US or abroad.

Funding amounts are determined by need, the number applications, the overall cost of the service experience and the fund balance. Grants range from $50 to $500 and cannot exceed 50 percent of the cost of an experience.

Elizabeth Durham

The Durham Fund

As a first-year student, Elizabeth (“Liz”) Durham was eager to experience ֱ's values of truth, unity and love. Wanting that authentic Nova experience, Liz volunteered for service trips to Habitat for Humanity in Hickory, NC, and Fort Smith, AK. Her experiences were so life affirming that she continues to regard them as some of the most important involvements of her time at ֱ. 

Liz's parents, Michael and Marilyn, recognized the passion their daughter felt and wanted to contribute a significant gift to ensure that other ֱns would have the same opportunities in the years to come. The Durhams created a permanent endowed fund to provide financial support to students interested in participating but who may lack financial resources to do so.

The Durham Fund will provide up to half the cost of an SJE with the final allocation being dependent on student need. A strong preference is given to students participating in an SJE that requires air travel. Students who receive funds are required to write a 1,500-word reflection letter about their experience. The essay is due after the student returns from their trip.

Gorman Family

The Gorman Family Endowed Fund

The Gorman Family Endowed Fund for Service and Justice Experiences is open to all ֱ undergraduate students to provide financial support for participation in Campus Ministry SJEs. Recognizing that all students should have the ability to participate and in an effort to ease the financial burden associated with service and immersion experiences, this endowment is available to any student, regardless of financial need.

The Gorman Fund arose from a promise John Gorman ’15 made to his fraternity brother Billy Zimmermann during their sophomore year. They committed that, together, they would participate in an SJE junior year. Sadly, Billy passed away in the spring of his sophomore year. John fulfilled his promise alone, participating in a Habitat for Humanity program in Oklahoma City. In his application to the program, he wrote of his desire to fulfill his promise to Billy.

Seeing the impact this trip had on John, his parents, Tom and Lisa Gorman, together with John’s brother, Doug, decided to endow this scholarship. John and Doug grew up attending different schools on three different continents. Their parents raised them with the motto “build memories, not houses” as a way to encourage the boys to build experiences rather than accumulate material possessions. It was also the Gorman’s way of saying that learning takes place on many different levels. 

 Given the powerful impact of John’s service experience with Habitat for Humanity, this family mantra might now be better stated as “build memories, not houses—unless you’re building houses!”

A strong preference is given to students participating in a fall SJE. Students who receive funds are required to write a 1,500-word reflection letter about their experience and how it has contributed to their ֱ education. The essay is due after the student returns from the trip.

Scholarship Criteria

  1. Scholarships are for all students who wish to participate in the SJE program and are in need of financial assistance in order to do so. Scholarships will be allotted based on demonstrated need. Reach out to Abigail Gorman if you have any questions. 

  2. Grants may be used to assist with the cost of Mission and Ministry–sponsored SJEs.

  3. Applications are to be filled out and submitted online.

  4. A 1-2 page letter about your experience will be due within two weeks of your return to ֱ. The letter is in the spirit of St. Augustine, as you are asked to write on how the trip affected your mind and heart. Please contact Abigail Gorman for more information.

Your SJE Group

  • Encourages encounters with diverse perspectives.
  • Aims for diversity in graduation year, major, extracurricular interest, gender, race, and religious identity.
  • Each group comprises 6–10 members, including two student leaders and one or two staff mentors.

SJE Components

  • Each SJE focuses on a specific theme encountered firsthand during the immersion week.
  • Groups use Catholic social teaching to analyze, discuss, and reflect upon their theme.
  • Immersion includes a mix of direct service, workshops, educational opportunities, relationship building, and free time.


  • Covers program fees, on-site meals, transportation, and lodging.
  • Recommended personal spending money: $150.
  • Fundraisers, need-based scholarships, and individualized payment plans available.


  • SJEs are two-month experiences involving relationship building, education, prayerful reflection, and acts of service and justice.
  • Commitment to the full program cycle, including a half-day kick-off retreat, two mandatory pre-departure trainings, coffee dates, a group fundraiser, weeklong immersion, and post-immersion retreat day.
  • Outside of immersion week, the average weekly commitment is two hours.


  • Grounded in Catholic social teaching but open to students of all faith identities.
  • Encourages critical reflection on the role of religion in the modern world.

Safety & COVID 19

  • Priority on safety.
  • Leadership team trained on dealing with physical, mental, and emotional health issues.
  • Equipped with a first aid kit.
  • ֱ-certified vehicles and trained drivers.
  • Participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Documentation required.


  • Detailed packing list provided by leaders.
  • Simple attire, toiletries, water bottle, and journal recommended.
  • Do not bring more than a carry-on suitcase or duffel bag and one personal item.
  • No schoolwork, laptops, technology, weapons, nonprescription drugs, or alcohol.


  • Students are asked to fast from technology during portions of their SJE.
  • Minimal photography to respect communities.
  • Leaders have devices for emergencies, and students can call home in cases of need.

Augustinian Community in Puerto Rico

What is the unique contribution that Augustinian spirituality offers the work of justice?  Participants will learn from and experience the Augustinian spiritual tradition. They will also spend part of the week in and around San Juan, Puerto Rico, serving in Augustinian Parishes and community-based organizations inspired by Augustinian principles. The other half of the week will be spent in Aguada, Puerto Rico, engaging in another Augustinian parishes ministry and outreach. 

Throughout the week, participants will experience the spiritual life of these communities and serve in their ministries. Participants will encounter the social, economic, and political situation of Puerto Rico from the perspective of the most vulnerable members of the island and learn how the cultural life of Puerto Rico has contributed to and enriched the Augustinian tradition.

Immersion Week Dates  Saturday, March 2 - Saturday, March 9, 2024

Cost  $550

Accommodations  Group will stay at a local church in San Juan and at a hostel in Aguada

Transportation  Group will fly to location

Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, NC

In Winston-Salem, NC, 5% of the housing does not meet the minimum housing code, and 2.5% of the population live in overcrowded conditions. The need for new houses and neighborhood revitalization projects is huge. 

Students will partner with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, which is working to remedy this situation. In addition to working on one of the home builds in the local community, participants will engage many community partners throughout the week who provide meals and fellowship for the group.

Immersion Week Dates Saturday, March 2 - Saturday, March 9, 2024

Cost   $150

Accommodation Group will stay in dormitory-style lodging 

Transportation Group will drive to location.

Habitat for Humanity of Marion-Dillon County, SC

Marion County has the highest unemployment rate in South Carolina, and poverty housing is rampant. Students will partner with Habitat for Humanity of Marion-Dillon County, which is responding to the housing inequity by building one quality, affordable home at a time. 

Students will have plenty of work to do with Habitat for Humanity throughout the week and will be welcomed by the Marion community, which prepares most meals for college groups. This experience is a unique opportunity to build community and meet other first years committed to service and justice.

Immersion Week Dates Saturday, March 2 –Saturday, March 9, 2024

Cost   $150

Accommodation Group will stay in a local church

Transportation Group will drive to location.

Mini SJE: Interfaith Philadelphia

We will be partnering with Interfaith Philadelphia to offer a weekend experience for those interested in learning from different faith traditions. Interfaith Philadelphia invites students to explore faith, service, and interfaith dialogue. Participants on this SJE will participate in worship gatherings from different faith traditions, engage in meaningful interfaith dialogue, and serve with local nonprofits in Philadelphia while reflecting on prevalent social issues. 

Please sign up at the beginning of Spring 2024 semester. Sign-ups are first come, first serve, and will close on February 9.

Immersion Week Dates Friday, March 1 - Sunday, March 3, 2024

Cost   $50

Accommodation Group will stay in a local church

Transportation Group will drive to location.

Romero Center

The Urban Challenge Program is an urban, service-learning, immersion experience rooted in the Catholic faith tradition. Offering a point of access to the lives and stories of the people of Camden, NJ, and its surrounding communities, the Urban Challenge Program is a unique educational and retreat opportunity that serves mainly suburban high school and college-aged students.

Over spring break, Participants will serve at the Romero Center and engage in reflections related to themes of Catholic Social Teaching as well as participate in simulations focused on social inequality.

Immersion Week DatesSunday, March 3 –Saturday, March 9, 2024


AccommodationGroup will stay in dormitory-style housing on site

TransportationGroup will drive to location

Via International

Justice for immigrants does not end at the border. This Experience asks, what does immigration justice look like on ֱ’s campus, and how are we called to be a community of justice on campus? Participants will work together to develop skills for community leadership and engagement with a focus on migration justice.

Over Spring break, students will spend a week working with VIA International in San Diego, CA. They will share knowledge and resources with grassroots groups working to increase awareness and engagement in their own local communities. Via International partners with a number of organizations in the San Diego border community engaged in the work of migration justice. 

Immersion Week Dates Saturday, March 2 - Saturday, March 9, 2024

Cost   $350

Accommodation Group will stay in a local church

Transportation Group will fly to location


  • Serve as the SJE program’s primary leadership in collaboration with the program director and graduate assistants
  • Serve as a liaison between student leaders and campus ministers
  • Meet regularly with campus ministers, including retreats as appropriate
  • Plan and lead regular full-group and committee meetings with student leaders
  • Coordinate ongoing leadership training and development
  • Revise the recruitment process to maximize exposure and enthusiasm
  • Reinvigorate student leadership 
  • Develop and implement a clear, engaging curriculum built on service, community, solidarity and shared experience, spirituality, and commitment to the common good
  • Evaluate the program to ensure it remains current


  • It is preferred that the Core Team consist of four students from within the SJE leadership community: two students who have previously served as trip leaders and two students who will lead upcoming trips. 
  • The team will ideally consist of a mix of undergraduate seniors and juniors to ensure continuity. 
  • The planned commitment is for a spring semester followed by a fall semester, with flexibility to extend or shorten service as appropriate.
  • Ryan Haack '22 COE

  • "Being in Camden, NJ, was an eye-opening experience that served to remind me not to believe the stereotypes imposed on different areas. The people of Camden were so kind, open and amazing to us! They are the reason I look back at this experience so fondly."—Valentina Wey ’23 CLAS

  • "Service and Justice Experiences have changed my life! It’s like having little parts of me scheduled everywhere I had the privilege to serve! Forever keeping those bonds I made and the lessons I learned with me! I’m proud to have participated [in] and led them!"—Jack Brenner ’19 VSB

  • "I reminisce about the SJE often! From long car trips and fun hikes to painting an entire house and folk dancing, I became so close to a group of individuals that I had never met before in a quick instant! I realized this SJE how kindhearted and altruistic people can be when I just meet them, and I will never forget the wonderful experiences we shared together."—Megan Tsou ’23 VSB

This list is being updated regularly. If you would like your area added or have questions, please email Kate. 

  •  Students serve at schools and education nonprofits in the Philly area. 
  • Fraternity and Sorority Life Many fraternities and sororities have philanthropic priorities  
  •  There are many student groups who engage in service on campus.