In Their Own Backyards

Duke Alums Engage returns for second year
April 1, 2011
 
Digging in: Duke Alums Engage participants clean up trash and beautify the grounds in one of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership communities in 2009.

Digging in: Duke Alums Engage participants clean up trash and beautify the grounds in one of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership communities in 2009.
Jared Lazarus

When the idea for the Duke Alums Engage program was conceived a few years ago, members of the Duke Alumni Association (DAA) and a network of alumni volunteers wanted to create meaningful service-learning opportunities in local communities. Inspired by the success of DukeEngage, a program that offers undergraduates intensive civic-engagement experiences in the U.S. and abroad, Duke Alums Engage began with a set of pilot projects in five cities in 2008. During the program’s official launch the next year, more than 500 Duke alumni and their friends and family participated in events in twenty cities across the country.

Following the success of that inaugural year, organizers spent 2010 assessing what worked and what didn’t and looking at ways to expand the scope and impact of the program. This spring, Duke Alums Engage is back and takes place April 23 through May 1. Among the projects scheduled:

New York-area alumni and community partner the Children’s Aid Society will sponsor a Community Health and Fitness Day, which will include medical screenings, information booths, interactive games, and sports sessions.

In New Orleans, alumni are working with the St. Bernard Project to help residents return to their communities and rebuild their lives post-Katrina.

Alumni groups in Baltimore and Houston are working on projects in schools that are part of the Knowledge Is Power Program, a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools that prepare students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.

Duke Alums Engage may well have an international presence for the first time: Alumni in Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Toronto have expressed interest in creating projects. To learn about a Duke Alums Engage project near you, visit www.dukealumni.com.