civic engagement

Civic Engagement

At Widener, you will connect with civic engagement experiences in Chester, Greater Philadelphia, and around the world.

Make an Impact

Our students, faculty, and staff serve as teachers, tutors, and trainers in many programs that give academic support and educational opportunities to families and children. At Widener, you can serve in a variety of schools, school districts, and after-school programs including:

  • Widener Partnership Charter School
  • Widener Reads and Widener Counts
  • Boys and Girls Club of Chester
  • Chester Eastside
  • Chester Education Foundation
  • Chester High School
  • First Robotics (STEM Academy)
  • Northern Star Sports
  • Soccer for Success/Chester Upland Youth Soccer
  • Stetser Elementary School

Widener’s community outreach programs will help you gain hands-on experience, hone your leadership skills, grow your professional network, and broaden your worldview. Whether you’re teaching kids in Chester, participating in innovative outreach programs in Philadelphia, or installing solar panels in Panama villages, service can stretch your mind and heart. At Widener, you can make a positive impact in the lives of people around the world.

When it comes to economic vitality and growth, we’re in this together. Widener supports economic development projects that attract jobs, encourage small business creation, spur investment, and generate pride in the communities we serve. Widener works to strengthen the local economy by developing partnerships and implementing community renewal projects.

  • At Widener’s Small Business Development Center, one of 18 such centers in Pennsylvania and an accredited affiliate of the national Association of Small Business Development Centers, student interns and faculty experts offer free management consulting, education programs, and other services to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the community.
  • Widener offers City of Chester employees, their spouses, and dependents discounted tuition for programming offered through the Center for Extended Learning, as well as for the masters of education program. Learn more about our educational partnerships with employers.
  • Widener University helped bring 150 new jobs and the first casual dining restaurant chain to Chester with the opening of Uno Chicago Grill.
  • Widener helped to spearhead University Crossings, a $50 million development project in Chester with a projected annual economic impact of $1 million dollars and more than $80,000 in earned income tax revenues from the jobs created.

Serving With Pride

Community Engagement Recognition

We received a national community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.


service learning classes offered where students connect coursework with civic engagement

Civic Engagement Students Tree Planting


Presidential Service Corps Bonner Leaders

The Presidential Service Corps Bonner Leaders program was developed by Widener in partnership with the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation to develop the change agents of our time. Our leaders not only graduate with a degree, but also benefit from transferrable workforce skills including four years of work experience in the nonprofit sector, intensive leadership training, and a drive to make an impact in our local to global communities.

PSC Bonner Leaders commit to serving internship-level community service (300 hours or 10 hours each week) each year. They also participate in customized, experiential learning opportunities designed to make them stand out as civic leaders, social justice agents and active global citizens. Pending successful completion of the program requirements, PSC Bonner Leaders receive an annual $5,000 award in addition to any need-based financial aid or academic-based scholarships.

The Maguire Foundation Endowed Scholarships

The Maguire Scholars Fund provides scholarship awards to up to five incoming Widener freshmen each year and is renewable each year for a total of four years providing students continue to meet qualifications.

Eligibility to be considered for a Maguire Scholarship includes:

  • Coming from a select list of Philadelphia-area high schools
  • Applying as freshmen and being admitted to the university
  • Remaining in good academic standing, and actively participating in school and community volunteer extracurricular activities
  • Demonstrating financial need as determined by the university

For information on the Maguire Foundation and the listing of participating high schools students must have attended to apply for the award,  please visit the Maguire Foundation website.

Pride Service Site Leadership Program

The Pride Service Site Leadership Program will empower you to develop service opportunities for organizations within the Chester community that increase and sustain the quality of life for residents. You will learn the skills needed to be a citizen of character who demonstrates civic leadership and acts as an ambassador between Widener and the community.

Students can serve as Pride Service Site Leaders, acting as a volunteer coordinator for one community partner in Chester for approximately 5 hours a week (160 hours during the academic year). In return, they receive a $1,500 scholarship to be applied toward their tuition. Interested students should inquire about applications in the fall.

Learn more about how to apply for scholarships

Civic Engagement Student Community Garden

Service Learning

Academic service learning is one of the foundations of a Widener education, allowing you to connect your passion for service with your coursework. By uniting service experiences with classroom activities, you will develop your sense of civic responsibility while achieving your academic goals.

Widener faculty give you the support to apply academic content with meaningful, measurable projects in real community settings. Through our service learning courses, you will have innovative opportunities to serve individuals, public schools, public service agencies, and nonprofit organizations within our network of community partners.

A variety of service learning courses are offered every semester, including Coffee Culture and the Environment in Costa Rica, Contemporary Issues in Political Engagement, and Social Work Practice with Communities.

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