How You Can Make a Difference While Pursuing Your Champlain Degree

By Michelle Garvey, Senior Admissions Intern

One of the central elements of a Champlain education is its caring environment and support of opportunities to give back to the community we live in, both locally and globally. The College provides students with opportunities to give back on campus, through programs administered by Sustain Champlain or the Center for Service & Sustainability , as well options to extend their compassionate service into the greater community of Burlington.

Whether you are interested in mentoring local youth, helping out at one of the many local nonprofit organizations or advocating for migrant workers’ rights, there are many different service learning and volunteer experiences with which you could get involved and make a difference.

Discover Mentorship Opportunities

Students table at our Activities Fair for the DREAM a non-profit mentoring program that pairs college groups with youths in low income housing neighborhoods.

Champlain’s DREAM program allows students to become involved as a mentor for youth from low-income neighborhoods in and around Burlington. This uplifting program provides these young community members with the skills required to set goals and eventually reach their dreams. Students create activities and go on outings with their mentees as well as participate in group activities with other DREAM mentors and mentees. Above all, DREAM fosters confidence, leadership, support and, most importantly, fun.

Students also have the ability to volunteer and mentor youth at the King Street Center. Samantha Knight, a senior Education major at Champlain College, describes her experience at the King Street Center:

Courtesy of King Street Center

Tutoring at the King Street Center has been a wonderful opportunity because it allowed me to invest my time into something that I know is truly making a difference. Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with many intelligent, funny and caring children and watched many become fluent in English, significantly improve their grades in school, and achieve tremendous things in their community. I quickly grew to care for these children and look forward to spending time with them each week. Seeing these children grow and progress in school, you realize how important it is for all children to have a mentor who can support them academically and personally. King Street aims to give children in the Burlington community the chance that they deserve to thrive; and the tutoring program allows you to be a part of that magical process.

—Samantha Knight, ‘18 // Early Childhood/Elementary Education major

Get Involved With Migrant Justice


Vermont has a large dairy industry, and there are a population of about 1,500 migrant farmworkers who support the industry’s needs at local dairies. However, there are pressing issues with the compensation, living conditions, and treatment of these workers. The organization Migrant Justice advocates for human rights and social justice for them.

As a volunteer with Migrant Justice you have the opportunity to collaborate with farmers, transport workers to necessary appointments and events, provide or prepare food for them, and even translate English for Spanish speakers, if you have experience with foreign language(s). You can become involved with Migrant Justice, either as a volunteer or by attending one of their various events.

Volunteer as a Sports Coach

Burlington Parks Recreation Waterfront Vermont

Burlington Parks and Recreation hosts recreational youth sports, such as soccer and basketball leagues, in which you can volunteer as a coach and share your love of the game with youth in the Burlington community. You’ll have the opportunity to teach children game skills and positive sportsmanship while creating a safe and engaging environment at games and practices. Students should recognize that this position is a bit more of a commitment than other volunteer opportunities in town. Although, If you want to make a long-lasting impact on youth through your love of sports, this might be an opportunity to check out!

Find Flexible Volunteer Opportunities

Students from Rice High School - MATTHEW THORSEN   Image result for cots vt

As a busy college student, you may want to get involved in the community but might find it difficult to carve out enough time to make a commitment to a long-term volunteer opportunity. There are, however, plenty of options that can be more flexible and are less of a time commitment. COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter) has both long-term and a myriad of one-time volunteer opportunities. For example, you can serve lunch to the guests or work on a group project such as painting, cleaning and yard work to help with upkeep of the grounds.

Ronald McDonald House - Burlington, Vermont

The Ronald McDonald House in Burlington is also always looking for help to make the families they host as comfortable as possible. You may help prepare meals, assist with fundraising efforts or special events and more. Check out one of their Volunteer Open Houses to see what opportunities are available.

With all the ways you can apply your interests to serve in the Burlington community, there is certainly something you can find that will fit your schedule and make a difference at the same time. (This is only a sampling of the options available.) Burlington provides us with so many opportunities for professional and educational growth, and it feels good to give back in a constructive way.

Find out more about how you can get involved at Champlain.