An online hub connects students with businesses and organizations seeking experts, interns and volunteers.

Story by Isabel Keane ’19 and Kris Dreessen

Each year, more than 4,700 Geneseo students volunteer, from assisting patients at a local hospice to helping residents rebuild their homes in areas hit by natural disaster. Up to 45 percent of Geneseo students complete internships, student teach or are teaching assistants.

The College’s new online service, Engage Geneseo, connects the local community with the College by matching students, staff and faculty with businesses and organizations seeking volunteers, interns, employees and experts. The hub will help bring together students’ interests and skills with the organizations that will most benefit.

“Engage Geneseo builds on College-community ties to make it easier for everyone to share resources,” says Lytton Smith, director of the Center for Integrative Learning. “With nearly 6,000 students committed to attending a college with a mission to inspire students to be socially responsible and globally aware citizens, Engage Geneseo creates more individualized links between local organizations, expertise and interest.”

Here’s how it works: Using an online form, students identify their work experience and where they wish to gain additional skills and knowledge, or contribute their time. New and existing community partners do the same, sharing projects and specific campus contributions that can help them. Previously, individuals reached out to clubs or faculty, or networked to connect, or weren’t sure who to contact.

Recently, students reached out through the portal to volunteer on campus and were paired with the Geneseo Interfaith Service Project Dinner & Dialogue event, says Garth Freeman, coordinator of student leadership, volunteerism and service. Engage Geneseo will draw on existing successes to support area organizations, including the Adopt-a-Business program, in which students help businesses with marketing and outreach. Sophia Butler ’19 and Gabriella Dignitti ’20 recently helped Hemlock Canoe, a 40-year-old, family-owned, canoe-building business, to expand their media presence.

“We are working on rebuilding our entire website to make it more eye-catching for a younger customer base,” says Dwayne May, a canoe builder at Hemlock Canoe. “It’s not a small task, but they have been an excellent resource.”
Future plans for Engage Geneseo will see direct ties to faculty research and teaching areas and to students’ experiences in the classroom.
“Making connections has long been central to the College’s identity,” Smith says. “Engage Geneseo streamlines that process.”