Northeastern University: Center of Community Services

Civic Engagement Program (CEP)

Update on the Civic Engagement Program (CEP)
July 1, 2019

In 2008, the Civic Engagement Program (CEP) started with 84 students and a goal of ensuring that students who were awarded Northeastern’s most prestigious scholars were also tasked with contributing to the communities they would be a part of during their time as a student. Over the last 11 years, CEP has engaged more than 1,500 students in well over 1 million hours of service and civic engagement. Beyond the numbers, graduating students have shared the many positives associated with the program: feeling integrated into the Boston community, building co-op/professional connections, being grateful for the opportunities outside of classes, service impacting their career trajectory and many more. The ultimate goal of the program has always been to develop civic-minded individuals who will use their time and talent to contribute to the communities they will live in throughout their lives.

In 2016, Northeastern made changes to scholarships that impacted CEP. They restructured scholarship funds and removed the CEP requirement for the National Achievement, National Hispanic and National Merit scholars. Fall 2016 also saw the final class of incoming University Scholars (NUSP). Because so many local community organizations relied on first-year CEP students as committed year-long volunteers, our Center had to innovate to respond to this need.

In the fall of 2017, the Center of Community Service launched the Northeastern University Alliance of Civically Engaged Students (NU|ACES), an opt-in program for students to participate in a fun and intensive team-based Welcome Week in August, and then commit to weekly service for the entire year. NU|ACES has experienced huge success in the first two years, engaged more than 220 students, with 82% of the fall 2017 group recommitting for a second year. Community partners and participants alike have reported high levels of satisfaction, and early data shows positive learning and impact on all stakeholders. In the upcoming year, we are growing the program to offer more spaces to incoming students, and are introducing ways for upper-class students to join the alliance.

While the NU|ACES program grows and flourishes, CEP has been slowly phasing out with each graduating class. In the last two years, our office has received pushback from several departments in allowing student scholarships to be impacted by their performance within CEP. As a result, it has become increasingly challenging to hold all students to the same standards originally set forth by the university. While our ultimate goal is that all the students currently in CEP have developed a passion and desire to contribute to their communities in a myriad of ways, we have made the decision to remove the CEP hours requirement for the remaining two CEP classes. This decision is effective beginning Monday, July 1st, 2019.

We wholeheartedly believe that college is a time for students to develop and hone their civic knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors. Thank you to all of the current and former CEP students for their years of service to our local and global communities and we hope that you will continue your civic engagement well beyond your time at Northeastern.

***Beginning Fall 2017, students entering Northeastern with the Boston Housing Authority, Boston Public High School, Boston Valedictorian, Northeastern Neighborhood, and Torch Scholarships are required to participate in NU|ACES. More information on NU|ACES can be found here.***