Phillips Brooks House launches a new service program this summer.

Jon Chase/Harvard File Photo

Campus & Community

Service time, and the living is easy

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College launches Service Starts with Summer Program for incoming first-years

Starting this summer, incoming first-year students will have the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Service Starts with Summer Program (3SP), a new initiative launched by Harvard College through the Phillips Brooks House to encourage students to engage in public service in their respective hometowns. Officially announced during the annual Visitas festivities (April 26–29), 3SP will also connect first-years with pathways to explore public service opportunities at Harvard.

“We are so excited to announce the first of what we hope will be many years of the Service Starts with Summer Program,” said Interim Dean of Public Service Sheila Thimba. “This is an opportunity for students to contribute to their home community while creating connections with their new community here at Harvard at the same time.”

All committed first-year students will be invited to participate in programming led by civically minded faculty, staff, and student leaders. A select number of students who commit giving 100 hours to a community service project over at least five weeks in their hometowns will be awarded a $1,500 stipend upon completing their work.

President Larry Bacow praised the program as an example of how the University can be an engine for expanding public-service opportunities for students.

“Harvard College admits individuals of extraordinary talent and promise, and I am delighted that members of the Class of 2023 will have the opportunity to serve their home communities before starting their Harvard education,” Bacow said. “We hope they will discover their own potential to work with others to strengthen their communities and make a difference in the world — powerful lessons that will shape their perspectives as well as their aspirations.”

3SP launches with the support of faculty, staff, and current College undergraduates who have been working diligently through the spring to develop stronger pathways for incoming students to participate in public service.

Kevin Ballen, a current first-year living at Holworthy Hall, has been actively engaged in creating the program since January.

“This program is an incredible opportunity to really establish Harvard College as a school for public service,” Ballen said. “One of the most meaningful components of this program is its hometown focus. On campus, students — including myself — are so excited about exploring new places in their summers, during breaks, and after graduation. The emphasis on serving at home pushes us to think about how we can use our Harvard education and all it comes with to strengthen our roots.”

Danoff Dean Rakesh Khurana said the program is a way to engage students in service opportunities from the very beginning of their time at Harvard.

“The question we asked ourselves is, ‘How do we infuse our mission of educating citizens and citizen-leaders for our society right from the start?’” Khurana said. “And thanks to the terrific effort of the team at Phillips Brooks House we’ve been able to craft a pilot program to begin to answer this question. We’re really hoping that this is just the beginning of these students’ journey on service, and we continue to implement pathways to service for students when they arrive on campus. We want to energize students to build service into their own life and into whatever it is they do post-Harvard.”

Incoming students who are interested in participating in 3SP are asked to complete an application by May 31 (the application will be available on May 3).