At Civic Centre

Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership


The Center for Civic Engagement & Leadership (CCEL) connects students to their community by providing volunteer opportunities, internships, student employment, and Community Based Learning classes. Students contribute to local initiatives and they develop crucial skills that will serve them well beyond the college classroom. Faculty draw upon the CCEL's host of community partners to provide students with hands-on projects that supplement their traditional classroom learning.

Connecting Students with Their Community

A strong sense of community is one of the key pillars of Marist College. Marist students are given the resources to harness their interests and create a significant social impact on the local community and beyond.

The Center for Civic Engagement & Leadership links academics to social action. By working with faculty across campus, we are able to offer Community Based Learning classes, such as Introduction to Professional Writing, Interactive Media, Communicating in the Spanish-Speaking World, and The Ethics of Food. In addition to fostering innovative teaching, we pride ourselves on exposing students to vital community organizations and new career paths.

Community-Based Learning

The Center for Civic Engagement & Leadership promotes the principle that civic engagement and Community Based Learning (CBL) empower students to connect their academic work to their wider interests. Participation in CBL provides students with the problem-solving tools and confidence needed to generate positive change in their communities. As defined by Janet Eyler and Dwight E. Giles (1999), CBL provides "...a form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students.” Combining academic coursework with hands-on activities and deep reflection has been shown to achieve real outcomes for the community and deeper understanding and skills for students. These experiences enhance awareness and, in turn, lead to more effective social change.

Image of student speaking to employer at a career fair.

For Students

  • Enrich the understanding of classroom material
  • Increase the awareness of important social problems or issues
  • Develop essential skills (e.g. critical thinking, problem-solving) for academic work and professional life
Image of student presenting research to a faculty member

For Faculty

  • Develop new ways to generate higher-quality student learning
  • Cultivate new avenues for research and publication via new relationships with community partners
  • Network with engaged faculty in other disciplines or institutions
Image of student working in community garden.

For Community Partners

  • Achieve organizational goals by tapping into valuable human resources
  • Increase the collective impact made in addressing critical social problems
  • Build partnerships with new stakeholders and attract new volunteers

The Marie and Rupert Tarver Summer Internship Program

Each summer, a cohort of highly motivated Marist students remain on campus to participate in the Marie and Rupert Tarver Summer Internship program, which enables undergraduates to work on a community improvement project in collaboration with a local non-profit organization. Participants receive a substantial stipend, tuition credits, and on-campus housing for the duration of the program. As an integral component of the program, interns affiliate with an approved nonprofit organization in the Hudson River Valley and complete agreed-upon goals and objectives during the summer term. Tarver Interns work with faculty and their nonprofit partner to design their internship project and identify the key issues that their work will address.

Asset Publisher

Red Fox Spotlight

Image of Mark Palmer

Mark Palmer

Los Angeles, CA
Image of Louis Higuera

Louis Higuera

Pittsfield, MA
Image of Meghan Lai

Meghan Lai

Honolulu, HI
Image of Megan Nickel

Megan Nickel

Pompton Plains, NJ
Sage Kawelo Image

Sage Kawelo

Waianae, Hawaii
Riana Ramirez Image

Riana Ramirez

New York City, NY

Meet the Director: Dr. Melissa Gaeke

Melissa A. Gaeke, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement & Leadership and Senior Professional Lecturer in Political Science at Marist College. She holds a doctorate in Public Administration from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.

Her interests include engaging students in activities that teach them about civic engagement and working with nonprofit organizations to build their capacity to access resources and connect with stakeholders. She has worked to create and support civic engagement programs for more than 20 years.

Learn more about Dr. Gaeke >
Fontaine 201
(845) 575-2914

Image of 73 percent icon.

Post-Course Community Engagement

Seventy-three percent of students who participate in CCEL courses plan to engage with the community even when the course ends.

Image of 81 percent icon.

Community-Based Learning Approval

Eighty-one percent of students feel that the Community-Based Learning component helps them to better understand the required class lectures and readings.

Image of 150-plus icon.

Opportunities to
Remain Engaged

We promote over 150 non-profit internship opportunities in and around Poughkeepsie, as well as gap-year programs such as Teach for America and AmeriCorps.

Asset Publisher