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Community Engagement and Social Impact

Community Engagement and Social Impact programs exist at the juncture of the “head, heart, and hands” to create positive change in the world.

This programming provides an opportunity for students to make meaningful connections between classroom learning, personal beliefs, and the needs of local and global communities. Students participate in hands-on opportunities to meet immediate needs while examining larger structures that perpetuate inequity, and are challenged to think and problem-solve through the lens of equity and justice. The Emma approach to community engagement offers flexibility and choice so that each student can choose the breadth and depth of their participation.

Interested in more information about Community Engagement Opportunities? Contact:

Gemma Halfi

Gemma Halfi

Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
ceo green clean up

On April 27, Roz K. ’25, Melanie M. ’27, and Sofia P. ’25, partook in a CEO clean-up at Poestenkill Gorge down the road from campus. 

ceo at pawling park

Last weekend, Associate Director of Equity and Inclusion Gemma Halfi hosted a CEO doing a cleanup in Pawling Park, just down the street from campus. Students weeded and transplanted flowers to help beautify our neighborhood! Pictured above are Sein H. ’27, Nigel L. ’27, and Rebecca X. ’26.

Community Engagement Opportunities

Since 2014, Associate Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Gemma Halfi has spearheaded Community Engagement Opportunities (CEOs) on campus. She was asked to reimagine the concept of community service and service learning while answering the question "How can Emma connect to the local community through an equity and justice lens?"

MLK Panel 2024

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Emma is a time of reflection, growth, and community. It is a call to action and a time to recommit ourselves to creating the world in which we want to live. From a panel discussion with alums of color to equity workshops covering topics from codeswitching to LGBTQ+ issues to environmental impact on communities of color, the day was full of conversations about creating Dr. King’s vision of the “beloved community.”

Students and a teacher sitting smiling as they work on yarn projects.

Emma Willard School delivers personalized learning in many ways. Class sizes are small, allowing for the kind of individual attention that is challenging in other settings. Students are empowered to engage and advocate for themselves, making the most of their educational experience. The school also offers many special programs which tap into the unique skills and talents of both teachers and students.

Students in a greenhouse smiling at the camera, they're standing in front of a table of garlic which they are harvesting.

At Emma Willard School, Community Engagement and Social Impact programs exist at the juncture of the “head, heart, and hands” to create positive change in the world. These curated projects and community engagement opportunities (CEOs) take weekend activities by storm, boasting a completely full volunteer list and waitlist each week for engagement opportunities. 

A two-page magazine article titled 'A Hunger for Change' with a vector graphic of a box full of food on the bottom left.

The Spring 2023 edition of Emma Willard School’s Signature magazine focuses on aspects of academic excellence on Mount Ida, including how curated service learning projects and community engagement opportunities (CEOs) help investigate food inequities throughout the United States. 

Seven students posing with a large black horse in a stable

The Student Organization for Animal Respect (SOAR) advocates for the wellbeing of animals, while bringing awareness to the Emma community about the issues of maltreatment. SOAR organizes many events throughout the school year, from fundraising for animal rights organizations to volunteering at local animal sanctuaries. The group recently visited Little Brook Farm who thanked the group on social media saying, “We have no paid staff and a lot of stalls to clean so we're very grateful for all the help—it's both needed and appreciated!”

students cooking

As part of the Community Engagement weekend program, students cooked a meal on Superbowl Sunday for the residents of Joseph's House shelter in downtown Troy. They had a blast cooking up chili, wings, cornbread, and salad for a very grateful group of game-watching guests!

students help clean up trash in our local neighborhood park

Two CEOs (Community Engagement Opportunities) were held last weekend, cleaning up trash along Poestenkill and preparing food for guests at the local food pantry.