Community Impact

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Community Impact (CI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located at Columbia University. Community Impact (CI) serves community members from Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights. Community Impact strives to provide high quality programs, advance the public good, and foster meaningful volunteer opportunities for students, faculty, and staff of Columbia University. CI provides food, clothing, shelter, education, job training, and companionship for residents in its surrounding communities. CI consists of a dedicated corps of about 950 Columbia University student volunteers participating in 25 community service programs, which serve more than 8,000 people each year. Community Impact has partnerships with more than 100 community organizations and agencies who do service work in the Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights communities, including service organizations, social service offices, religious institutions, and schools. Many of these organizations refer their clients to Community Impact’s programs and work collaboratively to positively influence residents’ lives.

CI also serves as one of Columbia's governing boards, overseeing community service related clubs. The student portion of Community Impact is run primarily by seven elected student executives who oversee the coordinators of each of the groups. The student executives work closely with the Community Impact staff to facilitate operations at CI.


From its earliest inception as a single service initiative formed in 1981 by Columbia University undergraduates Joe DeGenova and David Joyce, Community Impact has grown into Columbia University’s largest student service organization and a primary interface between the University and the Morningside Heights and Harlem communities.

As Community Impact integrated itself into the neighborhood’s social safety-net, students identified and responded to new community needs, expanding the number of services available to clients and working towards transforming the organization into an integrated service network with a strong education emphasis. Community Impact figures foremost in the University’s long standing pledge to support education through service. Operating under the dual status as a non-profit organization and an emissary from the University, Community Impact has forged partnerships with community leaders and agencies committed to realizing neighborhood change.


Community Impact’s programs can be grouped into four areas, based on the type of programming and the constituency that is being served. The four categories are: Youth Programs, Health and Environment Programs Adult Education Programs, and the Emergency Programs (Assistance and Advocacy).

Youth Programs: Community Impact runs 13 separate groups that work with young people, from mentoring, tutoring, and literacy programs, to programs in which Columbia students teach classrooms about art or conflict resolution.

Health and Environment Programs: These programs are all aimed at building the health of Columbia’s surrounding communities by providing education to youth and families and to eliminate the barriers to health imposed by poverty and marginalization. This is done in a variety of ways, from teaching classes on healthy living to middle schoolers to educating families on the availability of government benefits.

Adult Education Programs: CI’s Adult Programs provide an important range of services to adult residents in the Harlem, Morningside Heights, and Washington heights communities. Programs offered include ESL classes, computer training, career counseling, and a critically acclaimed GED program, which helps adults receive high school equivalency diplomas and move on to college or employment.

Emergency Programs (Assistance and Advocacy): This group includes some of CI’s oldest programs, and its programs form an integral part of our community’s social safety-net. Lunch is served to about 100 homeless or low-income guests each Friday at the Broadway Presbyterian Church, a food pantry is run out of Ford Hall on 114th St, and Columbia students staff two homeless shelters 6 nights a week.

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