Partnering with non-profit organizations to address diverse urban challenges facing the Pacific Northwest in collaboration with Duke alumni.
, Assistant Director of Programs, DukeEngage
Duke Seattle Alumni Committee
In partnership with the DukeEngage Seattle Alumni Committee, DukeEngage students will volunteer in the non-profit sector with a variety of non-profit organizations. Students will serve at their volunteer placement 40 hours a week while contributing to the mission and needs of the organizations. There will be opportunities to be placed with organizations that promote and support projects related to: health and fitness, social justice, the environment, youth empowerment, food security and hunger, workforce development, minority advocacy, voting rights, disability rights and awareness, adoption and the foster care system, and civic engagement. Students will have an opportunity throughout the program to meet and interact with Duke alumni living in Seattle. Through service placements as well as immersive educational and cultural opportunities, students will gain an understanding of the host of unique issues related to the region.
Former participants have worked with the following non-profits:
- Austin Foundation
- Solid Ground (Poverty Action and Lettuce Links)
- Washington Environmental Council (People for Puget Sound)
- Northwest Harvest
- Seattle Works
- Washington Bus
- Year Up Puget Sound
- Disability Rights Washington
- Seattle Tilth
Program Requirements & Logistics
Language/Other Prerequisites: None
Course Requirements: Specific prior coursework is not required, however, preference may be given to students who have taken service learning courses or taken coursework that relates to one of the program scope areas listed above.
Technical Skills & Other Requirements: Students who have had the most “success” in this program with regard to contributions to community partners’ work, are students who are flexible, can take initiative, ask thoughtful questions, and bring energy to what they do. Experience with event planning and implementation, social media, marketing, documentary work, and teaching/coaching youth have been useful skills for students to have depending on the community partner where they are placed. Some placement sites will require a background check.
Reflection Sessions: The program director and site coordinator(s) will lead regular reflection sessions in which students will be expected to participate. More details will be shared with students once they arrive on site.
Neighborhood: Students will live at the University of Washington (more details under Housing and Accommodations below). The University of Washington is located in one of Seattle’s many neighborhoods known as the “U District”. The U District is very "walker-friendly" and is a major bus route hub. There are many nearby restaurants, shops, and parks of diverse varieties in the U District.
Most of the students will work in downtown Seattle. Downtown is the commercial center of the city, the home of Pike Place Market, as well as the nearby water front and ferry terminal for commuters coming in to Seattle from the surrounding area.
Seattle is known for its many neighborhoods throughout the city. Queen Anne, Magnolia, Capitol Hill, Belltown, Ballard, Mount Baker, and Green Lake are all examples of distinct neighbors in which you will likely explore during the summer. The neighborhoods are primarily residential, but most have a small commercial area with unique restaurants and shops. Seattle is also surrounded by the ocean and the mountains making it picturesque and geographically diverse.
Housing and Accommodations: Students will live in Stevens Court at the University of Washington. Stevens Court is an apartment-style dormitory with suites – each student will have his/her own bedroom but will share a common area, kitchen, and bathrooms. Each floor has a common laundry facility to which students have access. There is a fitness center at the University of Washington which students can use for a visitor fee. In previous summers, students have not frequented the fitness center on campus but instead have exercised outside on the nearby Burke-Gilman Trail or Green Lake Park. In addition, t several of the community partners have gym facilities available at no or low cost to students in the programA gym membership is not included as a programmatic expense.
Meals: Students will be given a stipend to cover the costs of meals during the summer. Most students cooked in their suite kitchens or used their stipend to eat at local restaurants. There are several nearby grocery stores that are within walking distance. Buying from farmers markets which are held on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings in the local area is a great way to eat locally and in-season while living in Seattle.
Communication: Stevens Court has Ethernet internet access in the rooms, but students should bring an Ethernet cord. Stevens Court common areas, locations around campus, and nearby cafes and restaurants all have wireless internet. It is recommended that students bring a laptop to Seattle. Some students may be asked to bring their laptops to their service placement.
Transportation: Given the location of the University of Washington vis-à-vis the service placements, most students will be within a thirty minute urban bus ride from their work site. Within the city of Seattle there is ample public transportation. Students will catch a city bus in the morning and ride the bus to downtown Seattle (or to other areas of the city, depending on the location of the service placement). Sometimes students will need to travel around the city during the day for service placement responsibilities, if this is the case, students will also take the bus to desired locations. For more information on the bus system please visit the transportation link above.
During program enrichment activities, students will be driven in rental vans by program staff or the entire group will take public transportation. If needed, students may also easily rent Zipcars near the U District or near their service placements. Zipcars will only be needed for recreational use if desired and, therefore, are not a programmatic expense. Most program events will take place in the city where public transportation can be used. If an event is taking place outside of Seattle, group transportation will be arranged by the site leaders.
Seattle is also home to an extensive ferry system. If students desire to explore the surrounding Seattle area they may take a ferry from downtown Seattle to several nearby cities: Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Edmonds, Kingston, Lopez Island, and Vashon.
Volunteer Placement Logistics: Students will serve at their community partner sites Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm. Some placements will occasionally require evening and weekend commitments. While some placement sites will require mostly office-based work other sites will require students to often work in the field on outreach, community education, community gardening, or fitness related events. Even with office-based placements, it is common to occasionally leave the office to complete tasks or run errands for the placement. If this is the case, students will typically take the bus or walk, depending on the distance.
Students will learn more about the community partner placement opportunities during the interview process for the program. The placement matching process and final decisions are made after students are selected and committed to the DukeEngage Seattle program.
Below are examples of the types of contributions made by students during past DukeEngage programs:
• Two students assisted an organization through outreach and event planning focused on increasing civic participation and community investing among 20- and 30- somethings. The students coordinated logistical tasks and media promotion, which culminated with an event highlighting political candidates and political issues in Seattle. The students also assisted with a number of service events in Seattle and promoted these events through social media and other promotional channels.
• Two students focused on environmental education and outreach to benefit an environmental organization. They helped coordinate and organize a series of trainings for the citizen stewardship committees located at 5 aquatic reserves in Puget Sound area. The trainings educated residents on how to make their voices heard by legislature and policy makers. Specific tasks include designing pre-post training surveys, requesting donations and reaching out to potential local partners and media for publicity.
• Three students worked with a fitness organization promoting fitness and healthy lifestyles with a diverse youth population. Two students worked directly with the fitness programs associated with the organization. These students developed fitness curriculum and lessons about health which they taught to youth. They also taught fitness classes and served as coaches/counselors for the youth who participated in the summer fitness program. One student went out three times per week to various community centers throughout Seattle to lead elementary and middle school students through exercise and fitness programs. The students also helped with various administrative tasks around the gym.
• Two students served at an organization supporting new immigrants and refugees and ‘new’ Americans aiding in the organization of these immigrant communities to build power and increasing civic engagement to ensure their concerns are brought to the attention of national and state representatives. The students assisted the Organizing Team in hosting various events and community meetings throughout the program. They helped prepare for a community event with a state senator. The students went to 4 different libraries in King County to represent the organization and to make the immigrant and refugee populations aware of the services the organization offered. The students worked on a youth curriculum to be used later in the fall. Finally, they attended various meetings and press conferences surrounding issues of immigration.
• Two students worked with an organization dedicated to providing nutritious food to hungry people statewide in a manner that respects their dignity, while fighting to eliminate hunger. One student researched the organization’s history and sorted through the organization’s archives to create a timeline and living history document of the organization. The document covered 40+ years of history. The other student performed a “Return on Investment” study of 50 special events hosted by the organization to see which events brought the best return (i.e. food donations/meals served). In addition, the student created more efficient processes for special events by streamlining forms and eliminating redundancies.
• Two students worked with an organization that seeks to engage tomorrow's leaders on their own terms, and empowers them through education, civic and cultural engagement, and hands-on democracy. The two students worked on the organization’s voting outreach efforts. Through attending community events, the two students helped spread the voting outreach program to more than 5,000 young people in Washington. One student worked on a video presentation that describes young voter participation and demographics. The other student worked on fact sheets about upcoming initiatives that will be on the Washington state ballot.
•One student worked with an organization that cultivates Seattle's urban land in order to feed hungry residents in a healthful manner and to teach and empower low-income community members to grow their own healthy food. The student co-taught a Children's Gardening for Good nutrition class as well as tracked its impact and outcomes. The student also helped with the Veggie Labeling Project, designing and implementing a signage system that was displayed at the food bank next to produce grown through the organization's programs.
• One student worked with an advocacy organization that aims to ensure equal and just treatment of individuals with disabilities. Much of their work is conducted through legal pathways, but there is also a focus on community education and outreach. The student redesigned a curriculum for the SAM club, a statewide network of school clubs that aims to educate and empower youth with disabilities. These clubs are led by individuals known as self-advocates, who are individuals who advocate for the disability issues they face themselves on a daily basis. The student led meetings with the self-advocates to obtain their input on the curriculum revisions.
Opportunities for Autonomy / Private Space: Students will be at their service placements until about 5:30 PM on weekdays. Students can expect to have program commitments from about 6-8 pm two to three nights per week. These commitments may take place at the residence hall or at a location in Seattle and could include: reflection sessions with the group and program staff, speakers, enrichment activities, events with alumni, or group meals. Occasionally students will have evening and weekend commitments with their service placements. Approximately one day per weekend will involve a full day group enrichment activity. In the past, the group has participated in one overnight activity usually occurring about mid-way through the program. While there will be some downtime, students should not anticipate a great deal of autonomy.
Suggested Reading: Neighbor power: Building Community the Seattle Way, Jim Diers
Suggested Coursework: There are a wide range of other relevant course in multiple disciplines such as global health, public policy, political science, education, environmental science, psychology, and sociology. Courses that have a service learning designation and/or address poverty, food systems, child and family programs and policy, and race and inequality are likely to be particularly useful for this program.
Miscellaneous: The Seattle program has the benefit of being shaped by Duke Alumni living in Seattle. The Seattle alumni have been instrumental in connecting DukeEngage with non-profits in the Seattle community. Students will have the opportunity throughout the program to meet with Seattle alumni through organized activities such as a welcome event and during various speaker events organized by the alumni. By visiting places such as the Blodell Reserve on Bainbridge Island, cheering on the Seattle Sounders at a soccer game, and touring the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, students will learn more about the area’s history, culture, and commitment to civic engagement and philanthropy. The DukeEngage Alumni Committee also works to organize an Alumni Partner Program that pairs DukeEngage students with local Duke alumni.