Service Learning – part of the Engaged Learning experience students have at Russell Sage – is integrated into the general education curriculum through the RSC Thread, but the opportunities to make a difference while you’re still a student don’t end with the core curriculum.

The RSC Thread

RSC 301: Innovating to Impact, part of the RSC Thread, is typically taken during students’ third or fourth year at Russell Sage. Students work in groups on a need they’re passionate about addressing and use design thinking and service learning approaches to make a difference alongside a nonprofit in the community.

Then they present what they’ve learned at the end of the course in a college-wide showcase, which provides them the opportunity to exercise their communication skills, show how it’s possible to make an impact in the community, and build their resumes.

More Opportunities to Serve

We work to integrate service learning into your classes, but you can seek out opportunities outside of the classroom, too.

A Catalyst in Our Community

Russell Sage is proud to be the hub for so many important service activities in the Capital Region and beyond. Here are just some of the examples:

  • We’re leaders in Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR) and other refugee initiatives. Russell Sage was the first college in New York state to partner with Every College a Refuge (ECAR), a national higher education initiative that helps colleges and universities partner with local refugee resettlement agencies to host refugees on campus and support their successful integration. Russell Sage also partners with the U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants to build “Good Neighbor Teams,” organizing groups of faculty, staff, and students to provide direct support to recently arrived refugee families.
  • We serve as the co-chair of the Community Campus Collaborative (CCC), a professional development group of academic community engagement professionals in the Capital Region. The group includes leaders from the University at Albany, Hudson Valley Community College, Schenectady County Community College, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Services, Albany Medical College, Union College, Skidmore College, Siena College, The College of Saint Rose, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and Emma Willard. 
  • We’re the co-chair of the R-VAN initiative, a grassroots effort to connect volunteer coordinators across Capital Region nonprofits. In October 2023, we hosted 54 nonprofit professionals on campus.
  • We’re the steward of the Rubin Community Fellows Program at Russell Sage College, which funds community engagement projects in Rensselaer County.

Service Learning in Action

The Intercultural Cafe, with one located on each campus, offers refugees a chance to practice their language skills in a casual setting and students the opportunity to help them.

Amy Pass with her Innovating to Impact students.

Coloring Book by Sage Students

A coloring book designed and published by students in Innovating to Impact — one of the classes in the RSC Thread — helps to provide a sense of belonging and literacy support for families being assisted by local refugee support organizations.

They’ve developed I Belong in Albany, a children’s coloring book featuring iconic Albany places and things. The Sage students are preparing to deliver 2,000 professionally printed copies of I Belong in Albany — with crayons — to local organizations that support refugees. 

Volunteering with Special Olympics New York Athletes

Every year, students and faculty in our Doctor of Physical Therapy program volunteer with Special Olympics New York athletes, offering guidance on healthy living habits, including the importance of stretching and staying hydrated.

DPT students also recently collaborated with a local congregation to host community health fairs and lead information sessions focused on health and wellness.

Working with the United Way

The Russell Sage team visited dozens of meal sites across six counties and analyzed the nutritional content of the food served; interviewed hundreds of staff, parents, and kids about foods the kids like and don’t like, and what would make them try new foods; and studied how it all measured up to nutrition guidelines.

Psychology major Famaria Wiggins ‘25

Psychology major Famaria Wiggins ‘25 said one of her favorite things about Sage is how it has matched her with leadership roles that allow her to help others, whether its participating in a campus events for high school students, or working at a local community services center as an AmeriCorps VISTA summer associate. 

Where Do We Serve?

Here is a sampling of the many places our students serve in the community.

Community Resources

Explore social justice topics for additional resources and links to related local organizations.

Service Learning News

December 07, 2022

Coloring Book by Sage Students Aims to Provide Sense of Belonging, Literacy Support for Refugee Families

The Egg. Nipper. Stewart’s shops.  Whether you are a lifelong resident of Albany or Troy, New York, or a college student who has found a second home here, these familiar landmarks often invoke a smile.  A group of Russell Sage College students hopes refugees who have resettled in New York’s Capital District will also come […]
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September 08, 2022

Nutrition Professor and Grad Student Partner with United Way’s Summer Meals Collaborative on Research

Russell Sage College Associate Professor of Nutrition Sonya Irish Hauser, Ph.D., is leading research to help the United Way of the Greater Capital Region’s Summer Meals Collaborative ensure it is meeting community needs. Nutrition graduate student Samantha Monks joined Professor Hauser’s research team as a summer associate with support from the AmeriCorps VISTA program.   The […]
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July 25, 2022

Recent Sage Grad, AmeriCorps Summer Associate, Helps Resettled Refugees Learn English 

Nana Owuso-ofori Created Intercultural Cafe During an Internship and Expands it During AmeriCorps VISTA Service Nana Owuso-ofori ’22 is part of the 2022 AmeriCorps VISTA summer program, which places civic-minded individuals in summer positions that address community needs. As an AmeriCorps summer associate, Nana has been able to grow the Intercultural Cafe, which she established […]
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Meet the Service Learning Team

You can find the Service Learning team on our Albany and Troy campuses.

Assistant Professor of Geography & Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement
Assistant Director of Service Learning
Troy Campus

Second floor, Hart Hall

Albany campus:

Kahl Campus Center, first floor, across from the Career and Self Discovery Center