The CSC Blog

Student Studio: A Brief Timeline of Creative Expression

March 29th, 2016

Post and photos by Savanah Macdonald

Over the course of the semester, Student Studio has been wildly successful in its promotion of the arts. Inspiring creativity is no easy pursuit, but Student Studio has reinvigorated artistic expression across Boston.

February: Spread the Love

Student Studio collaborated with Voices and The Empowerment League to put a spin on Valentine’s Day—(Pen)Palentine’s Day! The teams got together for an old-fashioned craft session with music, pizza, and plenty of Valentine spirit! Why make valentines for LGBT+ prisoners? LGBT and incarcerated communities often face violence and harassment, and are less likely to have support from the outside. Sending Valentine’s Day cards to LGBT+ prisoners demonstrates that these individuals are people who deserve affection and support. Spread the love—the CSC sure did!

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March: Welcoming Feminist Energy

 As part of GAP Week, Student Studio joined with Voices to engage the BU community with a Feminist Zine-Making Workshop! Student Studio filled the GAP by opening up a dialogue about feminism, feminist history, and gender identity – all while making social justice zines and listening to some mellow tunes. Collage, color, create!

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And let’s not forget: Casa Nueva Vida Mural Project!

 Collaborating with Sustainability, both teams met in Jamaica Plain on March 4th to combine the arts with environmental engagement. The mural came out beautiful, and will be a source of inspiration for years to come. A picture speaks a thousand words, and nothing fosters creativity like a mural.

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A huge thank you to Student Studio participants: Megan Markovitz, Molly Cohen, Giselle Blanco-Santana, Laura Capozzi, Mathew Brown, and Lena Adams!

This was a great year for Student Studio filled with creativity! Thank you to Becca Reynolds, Student Studio Program Manager, for dedicating her time to this wonderful program.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Importance of Youth Mentorship

March 15th, 2016

Post and photos by Marissa Wu. All photos are from the Siblings Spring Fling event!

“Regardless of income level, my [Marilyn Price-Mitchell Ph.D.] study showed that teens grew intellectually, interpersonally, and emotionally from supportive mentors. For example, most reported they were better planners, organizers, and problem-solvers. And they grew in self-confidence and self-awareness.” (Psychology Today)

Mentoring creates positive impact in youth’s lives. Youth with mentors have higher rates of high school graduation and are less likely to drop out of school. They find more self-confidence, self esteem, and are able to create big goals for themselves. Additionally, studies show that behavior, attitudes, and relationships improve when a youth has a mentor. Mentors help children grow and close the social and/or economic opportunity gap.


According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, children at risk who had a mentor were:

55% more likely to enroll in college

52% less likely to skip school

37% less likely to skip class

78% more likely to volunteer regularly

90% interested in become a mentor themselves

130% more likely to hold leadership positions

Youth who had a mentor also showed a better attitude towards school.

Regular meetings between mentor and student saw that youth were:

46% less likely to use drugs

27% less likely to drink

81% more likely to participate in extracurricular activities


Youth also showed less depressive symptoms when they met regularly with their mentor.


While meeting a student or child once or twice a month may not seem like a huge impact, mentors are creating positive change in the lives of their students. Mentors become someone that youth look up to and trust; and youth may see their own dreams in their mentor. Being a mentor is a rewarding experience that allows us to be the person our younger selves needed.






Is Cognitive Ability Affected by Socioeconomic Status?

March 2nd, 2016

Written By Annie Londregan

It probably does not come as a surprise that there is high correlation between socioeconomic status (SES) and cognitive ability. It has been documented in numerous studies and can even be seen in our own Boston Public School System.  The Jackson/Mann School is a K-8 school in Allston where 84.5% of students are from low-income households.  In the 2014-2015 school year low-income students did not meet the target to narrow the proficiency gap on the Cumulative Progress and Performance Index, which represents a performance trend of the school across years.

Students with low SES backgrounds often start elementary school a step behind their peers, which can create a cycle of low expectations for the students. The students then believe that they are only capable of meeting the minimal standards set for them and often do not improve cognitive performance.  Schools in low-income areas have less government funding and more teachers outside of their subject expertise.  This makes it difficult to overcome these low expectations.IMG_9173

Data is not destiny, though! There are many factors that negatively affect the correlation between socioeconomic status and cognitive performance, but there are also many factors that can increase students’ cognitive performance.  Studies have shown that parents of children with low SES can overcome such barriers by actively engaging in study or reading time, limiting TV watching, and emphasizing the importance of school.  Students whose parents used this approach demonstrated the same level of achievement as students from a high SES.  By informing parents of these techniques, many researchers believe that the disparity between the cognitive performance of high and low income students could me overcome.

For many parents, though, the time and resources needed to implement such techniques are not feasible. That is why teachers and afterschool programs, such as the program Wizards at the CSC, are so essential to helping students with low SES reach their fullest potential.  Teachers in the class can help build core skills in the students, which include attention, focus, problem solving, memory, perseverance, self-esteem.  All of these skills are essential to helping promote learning throughout the students’ lives.  After-school programs like Wizards help to make learning fun and provide hope for the students.  Students may feel like they aren’t good a particular subject or can’t achieve higher education, and it is important to make sure they recognize that they can thrive in an academic setting.DIGITAL CAMERA

The Jackson/Mann School is just one example where students need some encouragement to succeed. There are many afterschool programs that Wizards helps to overcome the correlation between SES and cognitive performance.  There has been progress by many schools, including Jackson/Mann, towards meeting their proficiency target.  However, there is still a long way to go, and programs such as Wizards aim to help them reach that goal.

Interested in volunteering for Wizards, or other youth mentorship programs? Check out our programs

Posted in Wizards

Big Steps for a Tiny Nation: How Singapore Serves

February 15th, 2016

By Kimberley Vun

Presidents’ Day is the United States’ national commemoration of our past presidents, from Washington to Reagan. But we can also celebrate the accomplishments of leaders in other countries. How have presidents in other countries started nation-wide initiatives for the greater good of society?

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The Istana, Singapore’s version of the white house, had an open house on Labor day 2015 and all proceeds from the open house and entrance fees went towards charity

Singapore’s leadership has demonstrated service and compassion for the greater good through the President’s Challenge. Founded in 2000 by President S R Nathan, the President’s challenge is a nationwide call to all citizens of the nation of Singapore to come together and take action, to reach out to the less fortunate in the country. The campaign holds different fundraisers in the form of events and activities annually for their beneficiaries that are appointed yearly, and so far has raised over $100 million for over 500 beneficiaries to date, $10 million of which was raised in 2015 alone. A voluntary welfare organization in Singapore has to apply to be a beneficiary each year regardless of whether it was a beneficiary in previous years.

Blog_Tony Tan Serving Preside Tony Tan is serving chicken rice (a local delicacy) to the residents of a home for Senior Citizens. 

In 2012, Tony Tan, the newly elected President introduced volunteer opportunities to the President’s Challenge with their President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive. The volunteers can     work at the annual events or fundraisers hosted by the campaign, but also can sign up to work with individual organizations. The challenge has seen all kinds of partners come together for the greater good, from pre-schoolers and the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades, to the Hindu Endowment Board and churches.

Blog_Citibank Volunteers Citibank Volunteers accompanied children from Beyond Social Services, a non profit welfare organization, to a wildlife Bird Park in Singapore.

The President’s Challenge was President S R Nathan’s way of getting one step closer to his vision of Singapore being a caring, compassionate community, where Singaporeans would be aware of the less fortunate and help them through any means possible. To see that so many people and organizations are generously dedicating their time and efforts into making the livres of the less fortunate easier, I think that President Nathan has much to be proud of.

Posted in Uncategorized

Taking a Look Back at MLK Day

February 3rd, 2016

“Be prepared to hear voices,” Katherine Kennedy, Director of the Howard Thurman Center, said to kick off the celebration of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. this past Monday. And we certainly did hear voices throughout the 2 hour celebration. Angelica Silva (CAS ’16) read a letter signed by Martin Luther King, Jr. She used her voice to share MLK’s message of “justice through nonviolence.”

Adding a musical interlude, Inner Strength Gospel Choir sang its rendition of Biller Wither’s famous “Lean on Me.” Juan Felipe Herrera, the US poet laureate keynote, even joined in to incorporate his poetry into the song. The poem’s words reflected on the nine victims in the Charleston , NC shooting.

The audience held a moment of silence for those killed unjustly: “in places that were meant to be safe.” James Lawson shared his experience coming to America from Nigeria. He said when he stepped foot in this country, he suddenly realized that he was a minority.

President Brown introduced the keynote, Herrera, to share his story and poems. Herrera had a spirited and kind manner when delivering his keynote, and expressed his passion for singing. He explained his journey of coming to the US school system as a Spanish speaker. His teacher, one day, invited him to the front of the class to sing. “Muy beautiful voice” is what she told him.

He explained his college experience at UCLA, which included the time he stirred controversy by drawing a black baby on a cross. “Black men are being crucified in this country,” he said. The school had a poor reaction to this action, but Herrera stood his ground. Throughout these stories of struggle, Herrera led us in poetic chants. An excerpt from one expresses the power of voices and peace:

   “We don’t want beautiful walls.

We want beautiful voices.

  We don’t want beautiful guns

We want beautiful peace”


Marsh Plaza on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day featuring the Free At Last statue.

Although Martin Luther King, Jr. Day comes before the official start of Black History Month, its celebrations and commemorations set the mindset our community must always have. Herrera taught us to understand the struggles, be always accepting and listen to all the beautiful voices in this world from people of all backgrounds.

Posted in Uncategorized

Education and Service and Reflection…Oh My!

January 15th, 2016

We’ve all had a long and relaxing winter break. Reuniting with friends, spending time with family, eating all the holiday leftovers. Now it’s back to second semester. Whether you had a wonderful or not so wonderful first semester, the Community Service Center can guarantee some ways to make this spring semester the best one yet!

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First thing’s first: turn your spring break into an invaluable experience by indulging in your love for volunteering through an Alternative Service Break trip! Registration is open, and there are still spots left on some trips. You’ll have the chance to explore and serve a new community from Boston to California. Make your next break count!

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Integrate service into your weekly routine by signing up for one of our academic year service programs. No matter your interest, there’s a program that aligns with it. Love to express your artistic side? Try Student Studio to bring the arts to Boston-area youth! Have a passion for social justice? Join the Empowerment League to help ensure human rights to our Boston community. Want to connect with your environment? Help Branch Out in various environmental service, clean-ups and sustainability projects. Make your 90s hits playlists, and drive a van with fellow volunteers to deliver donated food to our partners on Student Food Rescue! Music, science, tutoring, food, elderly, differently-abled community members, public health- any interest can help our mission of serving the Greater Boston Community.


Start preparing for FYSOP 27 and Global Days of Service 2016! The GDS committee is working hard on getting sites, food, and promotions for our biggest annual day of service. Studying abroad? You can still be part of this global initiative. Just email


FYSOP 27 coordinator applications are due January 26th, so get busy! This will provide you with invaluable leadership skills and allow you to explore the Boston area while welcoming new terriers. Keep an eye out for FYSOP27 staff applications in the near future!

Spring semester is the time to try something new and make your time at BU worthwhile. Once you have volunteering in your daily routine, it’ll be easy to become more involved. Questions? You can always email us at OR just pop up to the fourth floor of the GSU! Talk to some Program Managers, learn about upcoming opportunities, or use our space for a new homework environment. There’s plenty of thinking room.

See you on the fourth floor!


Project Hope: Interview with Andres Amaya

December 10th, 2015

By Olivia Rosenburg

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Andres Amaya, the Program Manager for Project Hope at the CSC. Project Hope focuses on public health and providing education and volunteer opportunities within these issues. Topics that are covered in project hope range from childhood obesity to HIV/AIDS awareness (World AIDS week was last week!). Some of Project Hope’s community partners include Cambridge Cares (AIDS), Community Servings, SPARK, and AIDS Action Committee. Andres told me about his time in the CSC, how he got started working with Project Hope, and why he does it!


What inspired you to volunteer for Project Hope?

I’ve always loved doing community service, but my favorite service I took part in was Chile. I worked with a doctor, in a rural community outside of Santiago, who specializes in hospice care. While working with this doctor, I realized how vast the disparity is between private and public health. This stuck in my head and Project Hope became an opportunity for me to learn and educate more people about this large difference in these health sectors.

When did you start volunteering for Project Hope?

I started volunteering for Project Hope this year (sophomore year) when I became the PM for the program.


What is your favorite part about Project Hope?

My favorite part of Project Hope is just seeing how bonds form between the volunteers and the community partners. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see and hear how much these two separate groups come to care about each other so much.

What is your favorite memory about Project Hope?

I’m only a few months into my role as the Project Hope program manager, but I’d have to say my favorite memory was helping make the Halloween party at the Gavin Foundation.

How has Project Hope helped you grow? 

Project Hope has helped me gain experience in a field that has always interested me, as well as provide an outlet to help out people in the greater Boston Community.


Project Hope is a great way to meet more people in the BU community and within Boston through the community partners. Make sure to check it out next semester! Andres is always looking for new volunteers to join him! If you are interested or have any questions make sure to email!

Raising the Roof for Human Rights Day

December 2nd, 2015

Written by Alli Caulfield

December 10th is nationally recognized as Human Rights Day, which commemorates the day when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Boston University students across campus are gearing up for this important day by planning a series of exciting and enlightening events. On December 8th, the Community Service Center’s Empowerment League will host part one of their three part series about understanding the different disciplines that affect homelessness. It will offer opportunities for education, service, and reflection on homelessness and housing in Boston and the nation. “Raise the Roof on Homelessness: A Multidisciplinary Panel” will be held in the Terrace Lounge on the second floor of the GSU. Join the members of the Empowerment League and professors from Questrom,, CAS, and the School of Public Health for an eye-opening seminar.


What was the inspiration for this event? The Empowerment League Program Managers, Casey Nakamura and Stefanie Grossano, wanted to incorporate the CSC’s goal, which is education, service, and reflection, with their passion for homelessness. “We want to bring the invisible to light,” Stefanie claimed. The inspiration for this event stemmed from the, Casey’ home state of Hawaii. The Governor of Hawaii issued a state of emergency because the homeless issue was extremely pressing. Hawaii’s problems do not exist in isolation, and Casey and Stefanie wanted to educate our Boston communities on this.

One of the Empowerment League’s community partners, Women’s Lunch Place (WLP), also helped shape their understanding of homelessness in Boston. The women at WLP will often feel invisible and dehumanized, but WLP works to make these women feel a sense of community. “They are seen, heard, and referred to as guests, ” Casey and Stefanie said.

Human Rights Brigades

How else can you get involved in the build up to Human Rights Day? On December 9th from 5-7pm, the Human Rights Brigade will host an event in Marsh Plaza centered around several aspects of human rights. The theme of the event is “Survivor” and the gathering will focus on various aspects of what it means to survive trauma. Join the Human Rights Brigade members as they honor survivors and celebrate the importance of protecting human rights. Stop by Marsh Plaza from 5-7pm for empowering speeches, delicious snacks, and dynamic discussion.

Join in the conversation on rights and freedom with your fellow BU peers.

Learn more about Human Rights Day.

Raising the Roof on Homelessness

Human Rights Brigades

Student Studio Reaches Out To Mason Elementary

November 23rd, 2015

By Savanah Macdonald

As part of the Community Service Center, Student Studio volunteers devote their time to promoting the arts within local schools and youth groups. Student Studio takes pride in fostering creative minds and embracing individuality. From quick crafts to long-term group projects, Student Studio volunteers are passionate about inspiring young minds around Boston.

Student Studio

Photo courtesy of Isabella Carlo

At Mason Elementary School, CSC volunteers cultivate creativity and a passion for the arts within the students they work with. Isabella Carlo (Sargent ’18) helped the children of Mason Elementary create “Name Symmetry Monsters”. Students were instructed to fold their papers in half, write their names on one side, and their name’s reflection on the other side. After, students were encouraged to let their imaginations swirl, creating unique monsters out of the shapes and figures formed by their reflected names.

While majoring in Physical Therapy, Isabella remains passionate about her involvement within Student Studio, believing the program to be “welcoming, creative, and fruitful.” Each week Isabella visits the same children to work on different crafts. Isabella finds her experiences with Student Studio incredibly rewarding, even though the program doesn’t directly connect with her major. Since the children’s after school program doesn’t offer their students ample outlets for creativity, Isabella sees her participation in Student Studio as a “rewarding experience, providing students with the opportunity to do embrace their artistic side.”

To learn more about volunteering for Student Studio, check out the program page.

Program Spotlight: Joining Hands

November 19th, 2015

There are a motley of opportunities available at the Community Service Center; however, one of the opportunities that will be highlighted today is Joining Hands, a volunteer program at the Community Service Center. Joining Hands is focused on serving as a link between students and elders with varying abilities in a variety of settings. By creating friendships with people of varying ages and abilities, volunteers receive the opportunity to close the disparity between their differences and gain a unique understanding about the issues that surround elders.


Program Manager, Jon Lerch, a junior majoring in Biology with a specialization in Cellular Biology, Molecular Biology and Genetics and minoring in Anthropology says that “One of the unique opportunities that Joining Hands offers is our direct service. At each of our community partners, we are interacting with amazing people, with some incredible stories to share. They are always so excited when we arrive, and look forward to it each week. I love walking into a community partner, like Little Sisters of the Poor, and being greeted by the residents by name. It is just a small touch, but it is great to know that they remember you from last week, or weeks ago, and you can pick up your conversation from where you left off last time. I think this is one of the things that makes Joining Hands so unique.”

Moreover, he says his favorite part about the program is the service. “Each Tuesday, I get a little break in my week by going to Newton Athletes Unlimited to walk the track with the participating athletes. It is always so great to escape campus for an hour, and just chat with some really great people as we walk.”

Volunteers are able to volunteer at several community partners including: Newton Athletes Unlimited, Compass on the Bay, Strongwater Farms and Little Sisters of the Poor. Newton Athletes Unlimited is an organization that helps those living with special needs to get active and compete in sports. Compass on the Bay is a senior living center for elders suffering from memory loss and give volunteers the opportunity to make their own activities for the elders they work with. Strongwater Farms is a therapeutic horse farm that provides equine assisted activities and therapies to New England residence in need of emotional, physical and behavioral healing. Each of the community partners provides students with the opportunity to learn something unique about their community and work with a variety of new people!

There are many opportunities for students to become volunteers with Joining Hands! For more information, be sure to check out the Facebook page and website for Joining Hands.