Jalexie stands next to a Kiwanis Club banner and behind a table full of children's book.

Students Give Back Through Work-Study

A new effort managed by the Marilou Allen Office for Service and Community Collaboration, enables students to make lasting contributions to the local Ardmore community through work-study programs at nonprofit organizations.

This spring, four students are participating in the first iteration of Haverford’s new Community-Based Work-Study program, for which Fords who receive federal work-study grants as part of their financial aid packages may work at local, off-campus nonprofits as their “on-campus” job. Their time working at these local off-campus organizations is paid for primarily by Haverford. This program offers students a chance to gain work experience, earn money, and make lasting contributions to the local community by working directly with its members.

Emily Johnson, coordinator for the Marilou Allen Office for Service and Community Collaboration, manages the program.

“It’s a great resume builder and provides greater insight and opportunities for connection and relationship-building. It also addresses gaps in equity, helping students who want to pursue volunteer-type work with nonprofit organizations but cannot afford to give up hours they would otherwise work at a paying job,” said Johnson. “Our community partners love it because we are using Haverford resources to help fund workers to help them with whatever they may need. It’s just a tremendous investment in our students and our local Ardmore community.”

Though the program only officially began at the end of February 2022, Johnson explained that Haverford’s Civic Engagement & Social Responsibility Council had been discussing matching students with local nonprofits for a while.

“Students receiving federal work study funds as part of their financial aid package were eligible to apply, and we ended up with over 25 resumes going out to our partners,” she said. “They were very impressed with the thoughtfulness and quality of all applicants, and are interested in taking even more on when budget allows. Hopefully with the great success of the program, it will grow in the future!”

Johnson was elated that the program received such engagement and positive feedback from the student body. One example is Maya Antonio ’24, who reflected positively on her time working around Haverford’s campus.

“Oftentimes higher education institutions form a bit of a bubble, so I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to engage with so many amazing people outside of that bubble,” Antonio said.

Antonio is one of the four students participating in the program. The others are Arika Freeman-Gritter ’25, Scott Sussman ’25, and Jalexie Urena ’25. Each of them works at a different nonprofit, all located in Ardmore.

Antonio, a prospective linguistics major and education minor, works at Common Space, a nonprofit that provides a community gathering space, offers flexible employment, and hosts public programming, such as yoga and music classes. Antonio learned about the organization when she took the course “Community Learning Collaborative: Practicing Partnership,” and was inspired by their goal of creating an accessible and safe place for people of all ages and abilities.

“Currently, I’m helping out around Common Space’s main community space, which includes their Makers and Creators retail space, which features pieces from local artists,” she said. “I’m hoping to build relationships between Common Space and Haverford’s student organizations, as well as get more involved with the community garden once the weather gets a little warmer.”

Antonio has greatly enjoyed her time at Common Space this semester, and hopes to continue working there as the semester progresses.

“Common Space and all of the other partner organizations that are part of this program are already doing great work to support the local community, and I’m excited to be able to bring the connections and resources I have at Haverford to help further that work.”

Freeman-Gritter is working at Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a nonprofit focused on career advancement and transition.

Sussman, who is interested in studying political science, is working at the Ardmore Junior League Thrift Shop for his work-study. There, he organizes clothes, helps customers, and maintains store cleanliness.

“I love that I can give back with Haverford’s help. This position allows me to do meaningful, helpful work with the added bonus of being able to form personal connections with the people I’m working with,” Sussman said. “Sending a worker to come for six hours a week and paying them is a lot more personal than sending a $2000 check.”

Meanwhile, Urena, a prospective psychology major, is spending her spring at Bethel AME Church in Ardmore. Having conducted volunteer work in her home of New York City, she was inspired to continue that work while helping to fund her education. She helps Bethel AME by updating their website, assisting in data collection, and note keeping for their meetings. She looks forward to helping out at community events and their community garden as the semester progresses.

“I’m really excited about being able to give back to the community using Haverford’s resources,” Urena said. “I think it develops a sort of mutually beneficial relationship between these businesses in Ardmore and the College, and as a product, people in need in the community receive extra help. It feels like a win-win situation.”

Maya Antonio ’24 (right) stands with one of her co-workers at Common Space, Owen (left).