2022 has been a transformative year for The Center for Community Engaged Learning. I often say that we have the best job on Fordham’s campus, and as the year draws to a close, I am reminded that our impact is truly measured by the depth and breadth of our relationships. Our growth, our success, and our innovative solution-building on and off campus to contribute authentically to the ongoing growth and thriving of this dynamic and beautiful city is only possible through your friendship, partnership, and support.
We started the year off right with a move for our Rose Hill operations into a new, expansive space on the second floor of the Rev. Joseph McShane Campus Center. This space offers study and meeting space for students, who work alongside us to build a better Fordham. The huge meeting table, private conference spaces, and event halls upstairs are all assets that we share with our community partners, as when we hosted BRACE meetings on Tuesday nights for justice-impacted Bronxites developing civic engagement skills, or when we partnered with the Business Initiative Corporation of New York for a Financial Professional Networking Event in October.
The work of community relations requires consistent ongoing conversations, resource sharing and authentic, honest partnerships. In order that Fordham might more fully join in conversations with our neighbors and friends, we launched a collective of community organizations in the Bronx called Fordham in Community. This group of partners meets regularly to discuss community challenges, share updates and best practices, and collaborate on innovative community-driven solutions. Some of our successes this year include:
- Our first Back to School festival, attended by over 3400 Bronx residents and Fordham community members;
- Our new Highbridge Farmers Market, incubated with the help of our community partners Mary Mitchell Center and Highbridge Community Development Corporation with support from Fordham students in Ecology and Economics of Food Systems;
- The launch of a new Advocacy Fellowship program at Fordham.
On a more sober note, it is our duty to respond to community crises. CCEL leads University efforts to provide relief to Bronx families impacted by the Twin Parks fire early last year; we connected immediate relief efforts with ongoing structural solution-building by hosting a roundtable discussion on fire prevention policy.
This year, I am delighted to share that we have deeply expanded our community engaged learning (CEL) courses and our co-curricular student programs, offering over 2,200 Fordham students a 20-hour community engagement experience with the support of faculty and university resources. Community engaged learning courses like Susan Greenfield’s Literary Representation and Historical Reality help students bring together their experiences doing direct service to support unhoused New Yorkers with organizations like TLC and Sant’ Egidio with the most pressing policy issues facing our city; right now, we are working to understand how we can best support the 26,000 asylum seekers who are also experiencing homelessness and are approaching a long winter in a new city.
Through the Center, Fordham is uniquely positioned to serve as a catalyst and convener for the kinds of economic, policy, and social solution-building that engage local perspectives alongside with work of global partners. Our Global Outreach program, which offers hundreds of students the opportunity to travel away and abroad to explore a social justice issue and a community solution, allows us to build strong partnerships with organizations like APRODEC in Puerto Rico. Our students visit several times over the year to add capacity to this dynamic site, which offers a community kitchen and resiliency center, a base for archeological investigation, an incubator space for microbusinesses in the area, a home for eco-friendly touring that educates visitors and community members about the local ecology and biodiversity, and a research site for climate impact and marine conservation. Now, the relationship has grown to the point where CCEL can host faculty research on climate solutions, community development conferences, and more.
This year, Fordham has asked the Center for Community Engaged Learning to lead us in recommitting to care of our common home. This fall, we have launched our Laudato Si’ Action Planning process, bringing together the entire University community around a transformative green plan that unites teaching, learning, and research with structural and institutional priorities to pave the way toward a more sustainable future.
My friends, all that I have just described is only possible thanks to your wise counsel, your authentic partnerships, your generous support, and your strategic leadership. Thank you for your many blessings, and may you have a warm, wonderful, and inspired holiday season.
With great thanks,
Check out our 2021-2022 Annual Report below.