Service Learning and Volunteerism


Service Learning

Service learning combines learning goals and community service to teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities. Many local agencies are able to advance focused initiatives with the assistance of NIU students in these short-term placements.

Community Engagement Showcase - This annual celebration of outstanding community-based engagement initiatives is open to our local community and has become a favorite event for students and area leaders alike.

VALU (Vanguardia Afirmativa de Latin@s Unidos) - VALU is an after-school program for Latino high school students. Started in 2007 at DeKalb High School, VALU is now offered at Sycamore High School as well.

Huskie Service Scholars - HSS is a program for new freshmen and transfer students that creates a supportive peer network though weekly service activities on campus and in the local community.

Nonprofit and NGO Studies - NIU’s Nonprofit and NGO Studies provides outreach to nonprofit organizations throughout northern Illinois. Nonprofit and NGO Studies provides interns, service-learning students and volunteers for NGOs, as well as professional development events and technical assistance.

OSEEL Service Learning - NIU students provide various services to community organizations, and in return are able to put names and faces to the social issues they study in class.

Springboard - Under the guidance of NIU faculty and staff, student analysts provide area companies with customized assessments about possible business expansion, competition, and international markets. Springboard analysts also assist with branding, social media presence, website development and other marketing needs.

Cartography Services - NIU's Geography Department offers cartology (mapping) services to local cities, businesses and planning agencies.

College of Business Experiential Learning Center (ELC) - The ELC connects teams of high-achieving students with accomplished executives at companies throughout NIU's service region. Over the course of a 16-week collaboration, NIU students apply their energies and talents to help solve cross-functional business issues.

IDEAL Industries Partnership - NIU students develop projects at two former IDEAL facilities in DeKalb. Students research markets, develop new products, and build business plans - eventually pitching their work to top IDEAL executives.


Many NIU student groups have made strong commitments to volunteerism as a guiding organizational principle. To find volunteers for an event or project, fill out and send this form (link).

DeKalb County Community Gardens – NIU students, faculty and staff make up a substantial number of the volunteers that keep this important new community initiative alive. In addition to creating and tending three on-campus gardens, volunteers work at 30+ other locations throughout the county, producing hundreds of tons of fresh produce for low-income residents.

FUMC Homework Club – NIU students serve as tutors throughout the school year for DeKalb students needing help with homework and study strategies.

Make a Difference Day – NIU volunteers (students, faculty and staff) assist local community residents with fall lawn clean-up and other small neighborhood projects.

NIU Cares Day – A campus-wide day of community service in April. Students, faculty and staff complete projects for community agencies and not-for-profit organizations including planting, painting, cleaning, sorting, assisting with events and various other tasks.

School Event Support – NIU students routinely volunteer to help run local elementary school fun fairs and other activities.

TAILS Animal Shelter – NIU students and staff help with upkeep at the shelter, including cleaning, organizing donations, and doing laundry.

University Village Tenants Association – NIU students work with children living at the University Village complex at monthly themed activities centered on music, drama, dance and the visual arts and leadership development.

Volunteer Request Form – NIU’s department of Student Involvement and Leadership Development (SILD) operates a website for community members to post their volunteer opportunities.

Interested in partnering with the university?
Submit a request.
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