Community Service Office

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Tutoring: Annually, prior to entering a school building in South Bethlehem, all 180+ tutors (both new and returning) participate in a mandatory training. This training includes several workshops ranging fromculturally responsive practices to an introduction to South Bethlehem and a primer on trauma informed practices, with a specific focus on bridging the gap between a PWI and a predominately underrepresented South Bethlehem public school pipeline. The sessions are facilitated by community leaders and faculty from Lehigh’s College of Education. Additionally, supplemental in-service day trainings are scheduled monthly throughout the academic year to enhance skills and further prepare Lehigh students to work responsibly with our community schools. 

Leadership Education:

  • LeaderShape is six days of dialogue and self-discovery in a supportive learning community. The week is intended to produce a breakthrough in the leadership capacity of participants -- benefiting them individually, as well as their respective communities and organizations they will go on to lead and serve in the future. The curriculum dedicates an entire day to equitable and inclusive leadership. Additionally, the CSO began conversations with LeaderShape in February 2020 to align the curriculum to match the University’s Principles of an Equitable Community, as well as the VISIONs framework.

  • Catalyst is a one-day program focused on helping students identify their own authentic path, connect to groups and causes they care about, and commit to a plan to be a catalyst for oneself and the groups they are a part of. Significant part of the curriculum is focused on self-concept, active citizenship, and inclusive leadership.

  • 1:1/Student Groups/Fraternities/Sororities Workshops focused on the rich and diverse history of South Bethlehem, the socioeconomic diversity of our community, and programming philosophy and guidelines to meaningfully engage without dysfunctionally rescuing communities.

SERVE: Prior to departure on their week-long immersive service trip, all site leaders participate in a multi-week training. Training incorporates socioeconomic diversity, conversations across differences, community voice, engaging with humility, and reflection. Additionally, each participant has a SERVE journal, which guides and prompts daily reflection at site and is designed to ensure meaning-making from experience and discuss systemic issues of diversity, inclusion and equity. Lastly, SERVE annually hosts a 5x10 session which focuses on meaningful engagement, active citizenship, and community voice. 

CSO Staff: The 25 students that work in the Community Service Office facilitating, implementing, and coordinating programs participate in a mandatory 2 day fall retreat, 1 day spring retreat, and bi-weekly meetings throughout the semester. Training is intentional and scaffolded to include identity development, inclusive leadership and active citizenship. Topics include: privilege, dysfunctional\ rescuing, power of words/language, and restorative justice. 

Poverty Simulation: Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families in our South Bethlehem community. Unless one has experienced it, it can be difficult to truly understand. The Poverty Simulation offered by the Community Service Office is an interactive, immersive experience, based on real community member profiles and their lives. This simulation not only raises awareness and understanding of the lives some of our community members live, it shifts the paradigm about poverty from being seen as a personal failure and toward the understanding of poverty as a structural failure of society.

On-Going Initiatives/Flagship Programming: The process of developing active citizens encompasses three stages: exposure, understanding and action. Exposure introduces volunteers to the community, understanding occurs when an individual begins to understand the community’s needs and the root causes behind then, and action manifests itself when an individual recognizes the community as a priority in their values. Through our programming, we are committed to providing the developmental opportunities and experiences for students to advance through these stages. Our approach is guided through our five critical elements: community voice, orientation, meaningful action, reflection and evaluation. Orientation, evaluation and reflection are crucial parts of this work as it allows students to think critically about, and learn from their service experiences. Our CSO student coordinators are thoroughly trained over their four years in the office to facilitate this learning experience for their peers in partnership with community organizations. This work is embedded in equity and justice frameworks. 

Community Schools: Our three community schools in South Bethlehem function as the hubs of our community. The goal is to have schools open every day to everyone and bringing together academics, health and social services, youth and community development under one roof to maximize wraparound support for students, their families and the greater community. This approach seeks to build healthier communities, stronger families and improve the learning and quality of life for all. Our work in community schools is to remove the systemic barriers in place that make it challenging and difficult for our underrepresented and vulnerable communities to succeed. This work is firmly focused on equity, justice and liberation for all. These principles are supported through trauma-informed care and restorative justice practices and are additionally supporting by ongoing conversations and trainings from the Bethlehem Area School District regarding how to be anti-racist in the classrom. The upcoming school year will involve specific professional development regarding diversity, inclusion, and how to continue to practice allyship in this work. 

Reflections and Areas of Improvement: Most of our DEI work is focused on socioeconomic diversity and responsive/reflective of the immediate needs of our South Bethlehem community. This work, while critical, is difficult to separate from race and ethnicity due to the systemic nature and interconnectedness of race and class. As we continue to look toward 2020-2021 academic year, we are committed to elevating our anti-racist work. Professional staff will shift its pro devo readings and student trainings will specifically call out the interconnectedness of the work that we do.