Two people selling produce at a farm stand

Community Partnerships

Communities aren’t built overnight. They’re strengthened through years of hard work, mutual respect, and steadfast partnership. Each year, many Yale University departments and organizations volunteer their services and expertise to the broader community, partnering on countless projects to advance social justice, increase economic opportunity, and build a stronger New Haven.

By the numbers


Hours of community service by Yale President’s Public Service Fellows


Volunteers through Yale College’s Dwight Hall


Children tutored by Yale partner New Haven Reads

The President’s Public Service Fellowship

Anyone who knows Yale knows how dedicated our students are to public service. Yale students are involved in every aspect of the New Haven community, working at local businesses, volunteering for service projects, and promoting the arts. In 1994, Yale established the President’s Public Service Fellowship (PPSF), which funds Yale students to work full-time every summer in collaboration with public sector and nonprofit organizations to help strengthen the place they call home.

The President’s Public Service Fellowship has built a strong reputation with local organizations, with numerous alumni remaining active in community building in New Haven and in other cities.

My participation in the PPSF program transformed my life and career path by equipping me with the tools to apply innovative thinking to real-world challenges, especially in the areas of housing development, community engagement, and educational equity.
—Shancia Jarrett, Yale President’s Public Service Fellow

Over 950 Yale University undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students have contributed more than 400,000 hours of community service to New Haven nonprofit and public sector agencies as Public Service Fellows since 1994. Learn more about the President’s Public Service Fellowship.

Dixwell Community Learning Center

The Dixwell-Yale Community Learning Center (DYCLC) provides educational programs for Dixwell residents to cultivate scholastic achievement, and strengthen the social and economic conditions of Dixwell. The DYCLC also provides meeting space for community organizations. View a list of current programs through the DYCLC.

Elm-Ivy Awards

Elm Ivy award recipientsThe Yale-New Haven relationship doesn’t run on autopilot. It succeeds because of tireless commitment and leadership leadership of countless people on campus and throughout the city. Each year, the Yale University Seton Elm-Ivy Awards recognizes outstanding individual effort to sustain and nourish the partnership between “town and gown.”

The Awards were established in 1979 through the inspiration and support of the late Fenmore Seton (Class of ‘38) and his wife Phyllis, who established an endowment at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to support the awards. The first Elm and Ivy Awards were given in 1980. Since that time, four hundred forty five individuals and organizations have been honored.

Individual Elm Awards are given to adults in the broader New Haven community. Ivy Awards are given to Yale staff and faculty, Yale College undergraduates, and Yale University graduate/professional students. Another category, the Combined Elm and Ivy Award, was established to honor those who have served both Yale University and the City of New Haven with distinction on a long-term basis.

View the latest award recipients or to submit a nomination.

New Haven Reads

New Haven Reads is a community book bank and literacy tutoring initiative dedicated to promoting the joy and power of reading throughout our city. Since 2001, New Haven Reads has tutored more than 7,000 students and distributed more than 2.6 million books. Yale provides space and utilities for New Haven Reads, as well as student volunteers and tutors through its Presidential Public Service Fellowship each summer. Visit the New Haven Reads website to learn more.

Our partnership with Yale has been critical from the beginning.
—Fiona Bradford, Communications Director, New Haven Reads

Community Breakfasts

Information is power. For more than two decades, Yale has organized breakfasts on the first Thursday of every month during the academic year to highlight the resources that are available to members of the New Haven community. These events strengthen community ties by connecting faculty, staff, and their research to the public.

List of University Partnerships

Listed below are some examples of the ways these Yale organizations contribute to a strong New Haven. (If you are part of a Yale organization focused on community outreach and are not currently listed here, please email

Yale College

Dwight Hall at Yale is an umbrella organization which serves as a central hub for undergraduate outreach. It fosters civic-minded student leaders and promotes service and activism in New Haven.

Yale Law School

The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (LSO) links law students with individuals and organizations in need of legal help who cannot afford private attorneys. The law school also provides numerous clinics including advocacy for children and youth, immigration legal services, landlord-tenant disputes, mortgage foreclosure advice, veteran services and community and economic development expertise.

Yale School of Architecture

The Yale Urban Design Workshop (YUDW) is a community design center based at the School of Architecture. Since its founding, the YUDW has worked with communities all across the state of Connecticut, providing planning and design assistance on projects ranging from comprehensive plans, economic development strategies and community visions to the design of public spaces, streetscapes and individual community facilities. Clients include small towns, city neighborhoods, planning departments, Chambers of Commerce, community development corporations, citizen groups, and private developers. After a number of years on the Yale campus, the YUDW is currently located in a storefront space on Chapel Street in New Haven’s Dwight neighborhood, two blocks from the School of Architecture.

In all its work, the YUDW is committed to an inclusive, community-based process, grounded in broad citizen participation and a vision of the design process as a tool for community organizing, empowerment, and capacity-building. A typical YUDW project may include design charrettes, focus groups, and town meetings, as well as more conventional means of program and project development. These projects are staffed mainly by current graduate professional students at the Yale School of Architecture supervised by faculty of the School, but often also include Yale College undergraduates, recent graduates of the School as full-time staff, faculty and students from Yale’s other professional schools (including the Law School, the School of Forestry and Environmental Science, the School of Management, the School of Public Health and the School of Art), as well as outside consultants and other local professionals

David Geffen School of Drama

The Dwight/Edgewood Project brings middle-school students from Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School to the Yale Repertory Theatre for a month-long, after school playwriting program designed to strengthen students’ self-esteem and creative process. The program includes one-on-one mentoring, theater games, numerous playwriting exercises and a weekend long writing retreat in northern Connecticut. Yale School of Drama students lead the program, serving as mentors, directors, and theater technicians. The program culminates in June with the presentation of eight original plays over two evenings of free performances.

Yale School of the Environment

The Urban Resources Initiative (URI) is both a part of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, as well as a separate nonprofit founded in 1991, which uniquely positions the organization to serve as a remarkable bridge. Its mission is to foster community-based land stewardship, promote environmental education, advance the practice of urban forestry, and provide clinical learning opportunities to Yale students. URI has two main programs: GreenSkills and Community Greenspace. 

GreenSkills is a local green jobs program that employs adults with a history that includes incarceration and high school students. These crews work with Yale students to plant trees for free for anyone in New Haven who is willing to adopt and care for a tree. The adult crews also construct and maintain bioswales to reduce flooding and its impacts throughout the City. The success of this program is based on its partnership with the City of New Haven, EMERGE CT, Common Ground High School, and the Sound School. 

The Community Greenspace program provides material supplies, technical advice, and hands-on training to support resident-driven community greening projects. New Haven resident volunteers work in groups to identify the projects and lead them. Each summer 40-60 groups work weekly in New Haven parks, vacant lots, streetscapes, and other public parcels. Since 1995, URI staff and Yale interns have worked with thousands of volunteers to complete over 300 diverse urban restoration projects

Yale School of Management

SOM Nonprofit Board Fellows volunteer their time to serve on nonprofit boards in and around New Haven.  In addition, the Social Impact Consulting Club provides pro-bono consulting to several New Haven nonprofit organizations each year.  Many student clubs also convene annual conferences that feature local leaders among their speakers.

Yale School of Medicine

Started in 2005, the Haven Free Clinic is a student-run clinic which offers free primary care services supervised by attending physicians. Organized by students in the health professions, the clinic is run out of the Yale Physicians Building from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

SAY New Haven is a four-day, pre-orientation program in which students help with a range of service projects throughout the city. Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House and paint projects are some of the things students have done in the past.

Yale School of Music

The School of Music supports the work of the public schools of New Haven, the region, and the country through its broad Music in Schools initiative. It provides programs in New Haven public schools that complement the work of full-time music teachers, hosts a biennial symposium for teachers in public schools from around the United States, and hosts visiting professors to work in music education and train School of Music students and New Haven public school teachers.

Yale School of Nursing

YSN is recognized throughout Greater New Haven for its role in improving the health of our local community, especially among the community’s most vulnerable populations, for providing health education and mentorship in public schools, for advancing diversity training and education throughout Yale University, and for increasing opportunities for high school students to pursue university education and careers in the allied health sciences.

Yale School of Public Health

CARE was established in May 2007 as an integral component of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI).   The establishment of CARE at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation provides an unprecedented opportunity to foster rigorous community-based research and to translate findings of scientific breakthrough and discovery to enhance health care. CARE’s efforts to develop new models for conducting community-based research have real potential for improving the health of the residents

The Wednesday Evening Clinic is a student-staffed primary care clinic that largely serves an under-served patient population mostly insured by Medicaid and Medicare. Each year, up to 15 Yale medical students beyond their third year participate. 

The National Clinician Scholars Program at Yale is an interprofessional fellowship program designed to prepare future clinician leaders to improve health and health care through scholarship at the local, state, and national levels

Fiona Bradford

Community Voices: Fiona Bradford

Fiona Bradford has always been a passionate advocate for education and literacy. So when she saw an opportunity to join New Haven Reads full time in 2011, she jumped at it. And more than a decade later, she hasn’t lost an ounce of passion for the program. “New Haven Reads brings the community together,” Bradford says. “That’s the magic of the whole thing.” As the Development and Communications Director, Fiona works closely with Yale’s Office of New Haven Affairs to ensure New Haven Reads has enough volunteers and resources to meet the needs of the families they serve. “There’s nothing like seeing a parent come into one of our locations holding up their child’s report card, with tears in their eyes, because their child who’s been failing in reading is now a successful reader. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of that. And we couldn’t do it without Yale.”