Community Engagement

16 hours

Amount of paid leave CHS faculty and staff can receive for community service each calendar year


Percentage of eligible CHS employees who used their leave in 2019-20


Number of volunteer hours used by eligible CHS employees in 2019-20

Community engagement is part of our identity in the College of Humanities and Sciences. Not only are we engaged and contributing citizens in our local community, but we are also the recipients of an array of resources and services provided by the dynamic and vibrant Richmond metro community.

CHS’s partnerships and engagement extend from students in experiential learning classes and involvement of staff, students and faculty in civic and volunteer activities, to social activism and faculty and students conducting community-engaged research. We partner with community organizations to address and provide creative solutions to problems. See below for more information.

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HandsOn Greater Richmond

Explore community engagement opportunities

VCU Employee Service

The VCU Center for Community Engagement and Impact web page connecting VCU employees with volunteer opportunities that support Richmond's communities

CHS Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Resources

A page in the CHS faculty/staff resources site that contains a section listing local organizations

john skaritza [View Image]John Skaritza
Director of Information Technology
HASTech, College of Humanities and Sciences

Volunteer Spotlight

“As a former volunteer leader for HandsOn Greater Richmond, I'm always on the lookout for opportunities that might be a good fit for my skill set. I had previously heard about Virginia's Medical Reserve Corps, a national program which was established back in 2002 to help organize local volunteers, but had always assumed some medical training would be required. I came across a news story late last year about how they desperately needed additional non-medical volunteers to assist with the upcoming vaccine rollout so I signed up. The onboarding process was fairly straightforward and I was pleased to see that they had taken full advantage of all the new web conferencing technologies for conducting trainings and workshops so fortunately I was up and running fairly quickly.

My first volunteer event was over at the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center in early February. As soon as I walked in the door, the project lead for the event was having issues with the laptop she was using to print our badges so I sprung into action to help troubleshoot the issue. My actual assigned responsibility for the rest of the day was walking around with a tablet device assisting people with scheduling their second shot. This was very early in the rollout so being around that many people still felt quite strange but despite all that it was truly wonderful to see folks feeling happy and hopeful again after such a long difficult period.

I volunteered a few more times at Arthur Ashe throughout the spring, typically handling the same responsibilities but they kept changing the software and the interface on us so that helped to keep us all on our toes. More recently I have volunteered at the walk-in vaccination events being held at George Wythe High School and I'm planning to assist further with some outreach efforts. I have truly valued the entire experience and certainly encourage others to consider signing up to volunteer in the future (students are welcome too!).”


Community Engagement
The Carnegie Foundation defines community engagement as a “collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.”
Community-Engaged Participatory Research
A partnership approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives and academic researchers in all aspects of the research process. It enables all partners to contribute their expertise, with shared responsibility and ownership; it enhances the understanding of a given phenomenon; and, it integrates the knowledge gained with action to improve the health and well-being of community members, such as through interventions and policy change (Israel, Schulz, Parker, and Becker, 1998).
Community-Engaged Learning
A type of experiential learning that takes place within community settings. Students engaged in community-engaged learning work with and learn from a community partner; integrate community experiences with academic information; have a focus on a specific community or community organization’s concern; and include structured, organized and documented activities.
Service Learning
A form of community-engaged education which refers to the use of community service as an integral part of the pedagogical process. Such service is used to enhance student learning with direct ties to academic content (Chupp & Joseph, 2010).
christopher brooks [View Image]Christopher Brooks, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology
School of World Studies

Volunteer Spotlight

"Volunteerism is a family tradition. My parents made my brothers and sisters volunteer most of our childhood. Even after my mother retired, she started volunteering for Meals on Wheels delivering food to people. Between 2003 and 2009, I volunteered at Deep Meadow Correctional Facility in Powhatan tutoring inmates in reading literacy. Over the last 17 years, I have been a volunteer with the Minority Health Consortium (MHC) of the Metro Richmond area. I have had extensive training to test and counsel clients for HIV, STIs and hepatitis C. I have also worked at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa, doing HIV testing and counseling under the auspices of the AIDS Consortium in that country. That work resulted in my book, “Through the Voices of Men: South Africans Speak About HIV.”

More recently, I have also led HIV training sessions in and around Nairobi, Kenya, under the auspices of the Child Fund International (formerly known as the Christian Children’s Fund). Between 2013 and 2016, I did similar work in Mali under the auspices of a women’s rights group, Keneyaton and the Cheick Mansour Haidara Foundation in Ségou, Mali. That work resulted in my book, “The Most Vulnerable: Women, HIV, and Islam in Mali.”

I am also a member of the Richmond/Petersburg Black Treatment Advocates Network sponsored by the Black AIDS Institute. This organization, along with the MHC, seeks to reduce health disparities, especially regarding HIV and African Americans. In addition to testing and counseling, I participate in education and awareness events hosted by these organizations."

Community Engagement Highlights

a pair of hands holding a pregnant person's stomach [View Image]
Pregnant individuals experiencing depression will have access to mindfulness activities through a VCU study
The newly funded study will focus on serving Richmond’s minority, low-income or low-education community members and, if effective, could be replicated elsewhere.
a gun sitting on a wooden table [View Image]
NIH awards $2M to study VCU program focused on reducing youth violence amid surge in gun injuries and death
The program, Bridging the Gap, provides violently injured patients with a brief hospital-based intervention that aims to prevent retaliatory violence.
John Smith sitting down lifting weights while being assisted by two physical therapists [View Image]
For Richmond residents with kidney disease, a new program offers free exercise rehabilitation
Renal Rehab, run by VCU’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, helps chronic kidney disease and renal transplant patients integrate exercise and improved nutrition into their lifestyle.
Students scattered through the V.C.U. grounds [View Image]
Humanities Research Center to host slate of speaker events this fall
The center, part of the College of Humanities and Sciences, will feature events headlined by experts on a variety of topics, ranging from gerrymandering to Richmond’s historic cemeteries.
Eli Coston [View Image]
VCU assistant professor working to reform the Richmond Police Department
Eli Coston, Ph.D., has been involved with helping the LGBTQ+ community as well as advocating for civilian oversight of the Richmond PD.
the Camp ADventure team: Amy Robertson, Jessica Collins, Shawn Blake, Emily Heer and Natalie Baxter standing in front of the ram horns outside of the v. c. u. commons [View Image]
Camp ADventure continues for a second year, offering students an up-close look at advertising
Students and industry professionals worldwide are benefitting from the Robertson School’s inclusive summer program.
a therapist having an appointment with a patient [View Image]
$1.4M grant will support free behavioral health services to underserved youth
The grant will expand VCU’s Primary Care Psychology Training Collaborative with a focus on rural and low-income minority youth and their families.
Enjoli Moon and Sesha Joi Moon [View Image]
Enjoli and Sesha Joi Moon’s JXN Project is an effort to tell Black Richmond stories ‘truthfully and completely’
The siblings cultivated their pride from the teachings of their parents, political activist and former music producer August Moon and Michon Moon, Ph.D., a recognized expert in victim-witness services.
Panth Doshi, Julissa Martinez, Joe Siejack, Mehwish Safdar, Joanna Rivera and Michael Portillo each in separate, circular frames in front of a colorful background [View Image]
Students get REAL
Six students share their hands-on learning experiences at VCU and what they got out of them.
robin everhart and baobao song [View Image]
Song and Everhart awarded inaugural Community-Engaged Research Impact Grants
The grant was developed in partnership with VCU Real and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
amanda parks, michelle hawkins, andrew daire, seth leibowitz and alex wagaman [View Image]
At annual PACME awards, recognition for those ‘who are willing to go deep’
Five from across VCU are honored for their work to promote civility, build community, advocate for equity and nurture a welcoming and inclusive environment.
V.C.U. student Kevin Armas Rodas talks to Marisela, a Central American mother who left Mexico with her 10-day-old baby, about her experiences and difficulties at home and crossing the U. S. border. [View Image]
Helping the Hispanic community in the midst of the pandemic
Students in the VCU service-learning course Hispanic Immigrants in the U.S. are continuing to make a difference.
microphone [View Image]
Discovering new voices at the VPM + ICA Community Media Center
The center, which helps students and Richmonders create podcasts, is a forum for community storytelling, and a way to “find new voices that we need to hear.”
ana edwards [View Image]
Ana Edwards is preserving Black history — and sharing it with others
The VCU alumna and chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, will receive the VCU history department’s highest honor for graduate alumni March 18.
inside the rotunda at the virginia state capitol [View Image]
At the General Assembly (sort of) with VCU’s capitol semester students
Interns at the Virginia State Capitol this legislative session are doing most of their work virtually. It’s still “a very cool experience,” they said.
a student volunteer gives the covid vaccine to an older patient [View Image]
Hundreds of students are volunteering and providing shots at vaccination events
With some VCU students already trained and others lined up for training, volunteers are ready to address the need for more COVID-19 vaccinators and take on roles that will serve them in their careers.
a collage of photos from the r.v.a. black lives matter art show [View Image]
Art goes virtual at annual Black Lives Matter show
The Black Lives Matter RVA Art Show features works from dozens of artists that highlight inclusivity and racial justice.
Akhila Kunuthuru, Jennifer Duong and Sneha Gade, the co-founders of Virtual Volunteer at V.C.U. [View Image]
A new group virtually connects VCU student volunteers with local organizations
Virtual Volunteer at VCU has paired hundreds of students with more than a dozen Richmond partners, creating a sense of community in a time of distance.
Mirella Shaban and siblings Gabriella and Guiliano Melki stand on the stairs of scott house at v.c.u. [View Image]
VCU grads organize to help in Beirut relief efforts
2,200 pounds of supplies are being distributed in the city, which was devastated by an explosion in August.
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