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Now in its 26th year, the Community Fellows program is a unique partnership between Vassar College and local non-profit and governmental agencies. The Office of Community-Engaged Learning (OCEL) aims to build long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with community organizations in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, and the greater Hudson Valley. By developing and centering partnerships, the OCEL provides students with the opportunity to learn alongside community partner organizations and make real-world connections to enhance their academic experiences.

Students apply to organizations and projects that align with their social justice passions to enhance their academic learning goals. Our partner organizations serve as co-educators and co-mentors of our Vassar students. The OCEL funds the Vassar students in an effort to best support community-based organizations in the Poughkeepsie area. This is a highly competitive program for students and presents an exciting educational opportunity for them to gain more in-depth experience with a community partner and learn from them.

The Community Fellows Program upholds the college’s mission by engaging students and community partners in the following ways:

  • Supporting capacity building with community partners by responding to community-identified projects
  • Providing students with an opportunity to experience meaningful work in non-profit and governmental sectors
  • Investing in the future of our community through public scholarship and engagement
  • Enhancing the relevance of a liberal arts education to a purposeful life

Previous Community Fellows


Alma Elías Nájera ’25, Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center

Arlo Povill ’24, The Art Effect

Charles From ’25, DAY ONE Early Learning Community

Lauren Johns ’24, Center for Victim Safety and Support (CVSS) at Family Services

Mariya Novosad ’26, Exodus Transitional Community

Melissa Sebastian Tomas ’25, Dutchess Outreach

Samara Corbin ’25, DAY ONE Early Learning Community

Simon Lewis ’25, Finish Strong Wellness Center

Soren Liu ’24, ArlingtonON PAR

Zerah Ruiz ’25, Celebrating the African Spirit



Read about the 2021 Community Fellows program in the final projects booklet and in the Vassar article Community Fellows Program Gives Students an Unforgettable Summer.


15 students participated in the 2020 Community Fellows program. We are thrilled to have partnered with the following organizations:

View the 2020 Community Fellows Symposium & Celebration.

Read about the 2020 Community Fellows program in the final projects booklet and in the Vassar article Community Fellows Program Extends Its Reach to Help Those in Need.