Rensselaer students embrace the spirit of volunteerism. Whether through individual acts or organized group activities, students engage in a wide variety of volunteer and community service activities throughout the year, both on campus and in the community. They lend their time, energy and expertise to help others in the community who need help in a multitude of ways. Whether it's helping with the environment, tutoring kids in math and reading, or raising money for worthy causes, Rensselaer students not only provided valuable services to the local community, but also thrive as active, participating citizens in Troy.
This website provides information on how to get involved on campus and in the larger Rensselaer community. For more information, or if you would like to learn how to get involved, contact Community Service.
A number of Rensselaer clubs and organizations have missions that incorporate community service and volunteerism in their missions. Each of these groups would love to have more like-minded members who would enjoy volunteering in support of their missions!
The following groups are invited to serve on Rensselaer's Community Service Committee, meeting twice a month, to facilitate collaboration and strengthen the efforts of campus volunteer efforts.
- Alpha Phi Omega is a national co-ed service fraternity dedicated to the principles of Leadership, Friendship, and Service. Operating through a far-reaching service program grounded in its variety, the men and women of APO are well known as volunteers throughout the community and on the RPI campus. Come visit our office in Union 3420 or email APO to see how you can become involved.
- Arnold Air Society, Jack Newkirk Squadron is a professional service organization run completely by Air Force ROTC cadets all over the country. We help out our ROTC detachment, RPI, the surrounding community, and beyond. The scope of the Arnold Air Society is wide. Some of the organizations our squadron supports include Joseph's House, Troy Boy's and Girls Club, The Eddy, and local public schools.
- Big Brothers & Big Sisters is a volunteer organization that makes meaningful, monitored matches between RPI students (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 18 in the Troy, NY community. Twice a month, the "Bigs" and "Lttles" get together and participate in various activities together including bowling, hanging out in the games room, getting ice cream etc. The goal of the program is to "provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever."
- Circle K International is an organization dedicated to working as a whole to serve our individual communities. Members come from backgrounds which motivate them to become influential individuals within our society by spending time raising money for charity, volunteering, and always lending a helping hand. We participate in many events such as walks for awareness causes, tutoring children, volunteering at the local geriatric center, homeless shelter, animal shelter, Albany medical center, etc. Circle K International promotes service, fellowship, and leadership.
- Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) is a nationwide collaboration of college students, faculty, and staff dedicated to eliminating cancer by working to implement the programs and mission of the American Cancer Society."
- Ecologic is Rensselaer's oldest student environmental club. Our goals are to educate the campus community on issues of environmental sustainability, improve campus sustainability, and make being sustainable fun and enjoyable. We have previously hosted Earth Fest, which is traditionally held on the Friday of Earth Week, and Eco Princess Fest, an event created to promote sustainable and environmental education in kids (ages 5-12) by having examples for kids to look up to.
- Engineers for a Sustainable World is committed to furthering the cause of sustainability through education and through project work. Our project work includes solar thermal and photovoltaic systems in Mexico; constructing a computing center, Daycare center, and Medical ward in Haiti, and an on campus bio diesel program.
- Engineers Without Borders-USA at Rensselaer engages in collaborative work with the community of Isla Popa II in Panama, focusing efforts in system design for water supply and filtration, and on improving accessibility to electricity through solar panels. In Spring 2017, we were also approved for a water project in Sasle, Nicaragua and are currently assessing their needs. Our members contribute to technical design, fundraising, community relations, and chapter administration. All majors are welcome to engage in our transformative work.
- Global Medical Brigades travels abroad to provide relief to an underserved community in Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, or Ghana. Depending on the interest, we can choose to focus on medical, dental, public health, environmental, or water brigades.
- Habitat for Humanity builds simple, decent, affordable housing to eliminate poverty. We build every Saturday and are always looking for help in many ways. No experinece or tools required!
- RPI Ambulance provides emergency medical services to the Rensselaer community, and provides educational programs in the field of emergency medicine for members of the organization and the Rensselaer community.
- Tutor Time founded in Fall 2001 by a group of students participating in the America Reads / America Counts Work Study program. It is a government-sponsored program that supports the "no child left behind" initiative. Its goal is to ensure that each child, from grades K - 9, receive assistance in basic math and reading skills, and RPI's program has been successfully collaborating with both the Troy and Lansingburgh Public Schools to facilitate this goal. Students can participate as work-study students and as volunteers in the program. For more information, contact Tutor Time at Community Service.
The Dean of Students Office helps students and groups identify volunteer opportunities that are compatible with their interests and goals. Individuals may set up an appointment by contacting Community Service to learn about opportunities in this area that may be the right fit for the student.
The list of Troy and Capital Region agencies below offer with a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups, short and long term.
- Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission represents one of the best remaining global examples of an inland pitch pine scrub oak barrens and is home to hundreds of rare and common plant and animal species. Since 1988, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission has been preventing the Preserve from habitat loss, invasive plants, and wildland fires.
- The American Red Cross is an organization that helps keep people safe every day as well as in emergency situations. The American Red Cross of Northeastern New York is responsible for administrating blood drives, teaching CPR/AED, and helping families who suffered from disasters.
- The Arts Center of the Capital Region supports the advancement and education of the arts in the lives of those within the Capital Region. Courses include dance, drawing, sculpture, photography, woodworking, writing, etc.
- Big Brothers & Big Sisters of the Capital Region's mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported mentoring relationships that will change their lives for the better, forever.
- Capital Roots's mission is "to nourish healthy communities by providing access to fresh food and green spaces for all." Capital Roots works to reduce the impact of poor nutrition on public health in New York’s Capital Region by organizing community gardens, providing healthy food access, offering nutritional and horticultural education for all ages and coordinating urban greening programs in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady and southern Saratoga Counties.
- CMOST - The Children Museum of Science & Technology's mission is to "instill a sense of wonder and discovery in young minds, inspiring a lifelong exploration of science and technology."
- Frear Park Conservancy is a citizens group, dedicated to improving Frear Park, while preserving its historical integrity. Through collaborative efforts with park users, the surrounding community, and the City of Troy, the Conservancy strives to revive and maintain the park's history, beauty and recreational value. We advocate community-wide utilization of, and appreciation for the Park's diverse resources, and accessibility for all.
- Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway is the only comprehensive industrial heritage institute for the Hudson-Mohawk region. Its primary function has been advocating historic preservation and adaptive reuse of the industrial heritage of this area. It conducts tours, runs school programs at the primary, secondary and college levels, provides consulting on historic preservation issues and on regional history of technology in this area, and manages a regional technology museum. It is housed in the historic Burden Iron Works Museum in South Troy, just above the Menands Bridge, which is listed on The National Register of Historic Places.
- Joseph's House & Shelter in downtown Troy, provides emergency shelter or support services to an average of 1000 men, women and children yearly. Central to Joseph’s House mission is to provide non-judgmental services to end homelessness. The staff works to build relationships based on each guest’s & tenant’s strengths and capacities. Treating each person with dignity & respect, and promoting self-determination empowers guests and tenants to make healthier choices.
- Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club provides a healthy environment of social, educational and recreational programs for boys and girls ages 5 to 18. It serves asa community center for many organizations and events.
- Literacy Volunteers of America teaches people to read, write and speak English, empowers students to be advocates for themselves, and educates the larger community about literacy issues.
- miSci - Museum of Innovation and Science "inspires people to celebrate and explore science and technology, past present, and future." Special features include the Challenger Learning Center, the Bueche Planetarium, and the Dudley Observatory.
- New York State Assembly Intern Committee sponsors the Session Internship (for college students) and the Graduate Internship (for Graduate students) at the State Capital starting every January. The Session Internship offers college students a chance to participate in state government and the legislative process through a well-structured practical learning experience. Most colleges grant Session Interns a full semester of credit, as recommended by the Regents National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction. The Graduate Internship provides full-time research or policy analysis positions with Assembly leaders, committees and research staffs. Applications are available in the Dean of Students Office each fall.
- Oakwood Cemetery is one of the United States' largest rural cemeteries, covering acres of protected land that overlook the heart of Troy in upstate New York. The Troy Cemetery Association, Inc. is charged with preserving and maintaining hundreds of acres of lawn, miles of roads, nearly 60,000 gravesites including those of Amos Eaton, Russell Sage and Emma Willard, as well as the historic Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel and Crematorium.
- Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York has been helping to feed the poor and hungry in our communities since 1982. It is the only organization of its kind in northeastern New York. The Food Bank collects large donations of food from the food industry and distributes it to charitable agencies serving hungry and disadvantaged people in 23 counties. From Plattsburgh to Newburgh, in urban, rural, and suburban communities, the Food Bank provides over 30 million pounds of food a year to 1,000 agencies.
- Salvation Army exists to meet human need wherever, whenever and however it can, through assessing need, building programs, and investing in communities.
- Samaritan Hospital, St Peter's Health Partners, founded in community-based legacies of compassionate healing, provides the highest quality comprehensive continuum of integrated health care, supportive housing and community services, especially for the needy and vulnerable. Opportunities for volunteering are available at many of our affiliates and include positions involving patient, resident and family care, as well as staff support.
- Sanctuary for Independent Media operates several distinct initiatives in it's mission to build a more just world, using art, media, and creativity as it's tools. These include WOOC 105.3, Sanctuary TV, Nature Lab, Kitchen Sanctuary, Youth Media Sanctuary, Collard City Growers, Uptown Summer and Freedon Square.
- Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program for Rensselaer County is committed to reducing the trauma of sexual assault, crime and violence, as well as providing community education for its prevention. We are dedicated to creating a supportive, caring environment for victims, survivors and their families to enhance the healing process. Volunteers play a vital role in helping survivors of crime or sexual assault by responding to calls on our 24-Hour Crisis Hotline, serving as an advocate for survivors through the court system, or working in our office or in the community.
- Sunnyside Center, a part of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, strives to create a more wholesome environment in which children can develop by addressing their and their family's concerns using primary detection, intervention and prevention while delivering the necessary academic and emotional support that enhances individual growth. Sunnyside Center has served the children of Troy since 1925 when it was established by the Sisters of Charity as a summer retreat for orphans. It started an after school program in 1958. It currently serves 100-150 children. Sunnyside Center offers children 6 weeks to 12 years the opportunity to enhance their quality of life by providing them with a safe, supportive atmosphere, while participating in recreational and educational activities.
- TAUM Furniture Program of Troy Area United Ministries provides good, used furniture free of charge to needy families and individuals, as well as to people who are in transition. The mainstay of our referral system comes from homeless/domestic violence shelters, which provide intake and refer clients to us. Our service makes it possible for these families to furnish their living spaces when they leave the shelters. We provide for basic needs with beds, dressers, sofas, tables, chairs, and other essential furniture.
- Troy Boys & Girls Club provides programs that foster academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship.
- Troy Public Library maintains two outlets in the City of Troy which provide service to the community: The Main Library in downtown and the Lansingburgh Branch on 114th St. in Lansingburgh. The library seeks to maintain collections of books, periodicals, pamphlets, maps, audio and video disks and other types of library materials. The library also maintains a full reference service department and public computer access at each location. The library's on-line public access catalog provides users with access to the collections of all 29 Upper Hudson Library System member libraries in Albany and Rensselaer Counties. The Troy Public Library is also a Federal Government Depository Library.
- United Way of the Greater Capital Region improves lives and advances the common good in the Greater Capital Region by mobilizing the caring power of donors, volunteers and community partners to give, volunteer and advocate for local people in need, by investing resources in programs that address Basic Needs, Education, Income and Health.
- Unity House is a Rensselaer County-based human service agency that provides a wide range of services to meet the otherwise unmet needs of people in our community who are hurting and struggling. We assist those who are living in poverty, adults living with mental illness or HIV/AIDS, victims of domestic violence, and children with developmental delays. We work to achieve social justice in our community and to create a better understanding of those we serve.
- Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood provides advocacy, education and reproductive health care services in the Capital Region in New York State.
- Vanderheyden Hall provides individuals with the skills necessary to enhance self-esteem and self-confidence, and to engage in experiences that lead to personal growth and to live healthy and productive lives.
- WAMC - Northeast Public Radio is a regional public radio network serving parts of seven northeastern states. These include New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Stations and translators are in twenty-eight locations throughout the region.
- WMHT uses media to enrich our communities with programs and services that advance education, culture and civic engagement, empower individuals, celebrate our diversity and reveal what we have in common. Volunteers are needed for a variety of on-air television and radio broadcast campaigns.