Community Fellows Program of the Community-Based Learning Program

Mount Holyoke College
Academic Level
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel


CBL integrates academic and experiential learning. “Community Fellows” undertake community-based leadership development that is embedded in responses to community needs that leverage Mount Holyoke courses, volunteers, and work-study students to support community programs and organizations. Since 2008, over 50 students per year leverage CBL course, work-study, and volunteer placements in more than 35 organizations in Holyoke and Springfield, Massachusetts with large Latino/a populations. As recruiters and mentors to peer tutors/mentors, Latina leaders leverage increased Latina participation across college community engagement, and as Fellows involve peer networks and cultural organizations, building solidarity on and off campus among Latina/o communities. The Program is recruiting and retaining cohorts of predominantly Latina students and partnered with the "Posse Scholars Program" (bringing 10 low-income, first-generation students from Miami annually) to establish the first ever “Civic Engagement Posse”.

Program Description

Mount Holyoke’s “Community-Based Learning Program” (CBL) at the Weisman Center for Leadership was created in the 1990s to enable students to connect passions for public service and community development, academic studies, career preparation, and wage earning while attending college and avoiding the unfortunate trade-off students are often forced to make, between work and typically unpaid community engagement/volunteerism.


Since 2008, CBL has grown Latina participation among Community Fellows to now “over represent” the College's Latina population, establishing CBL as an important home and a visible leadership development environment for Latina students.

  • This year, 30% of Fellows are Latina, compared to their 9% representation college-wide.
  • Between 2005-13, 15% of Fellows were Latina (out of 234) and 100% have graduated.
  • Fellows advance K12 student achievement and engagement, and address college access among 200-250 Latina/o youth of Holyoke and Springfield, as they support retention and civic development among 30-40+ Latina student recruits at Mount Holyoke.

Graphic pop-up featuring Latino College Completion