Brandywine student develops, leads community engagement project

MEDIA, Pa. — Creating positive change in the community is a mission that Kevin Cauley has approached head-on as a freshman at Penn State Brandywine. With support from faculty, staff and fellow students, the psychology and communication arts and sciences major recently developed the student-run Philly Outreach Project, which aids Greater Philadelphia communities in need.

This spring, Cauley and Brandywine students Grace Smith and Christine Niche organized a trip to Philadelphia to clean the city’s streets and parks. They recruited nearly 15 students to spend the afternoon disposing of litter and collecting recyclable items.

“Kevin’s passion for the environment is clearly grounded in his desire for a more socially and environmentally just world."

-- Kristen Goessling, assistant professor of human development
and family studies, Penn State Brandywine

“I have friends who live in Philadelphia so I spend a lot of time in the city,” Cauley said. “I noticed the trash accumulating on the streets and I just felt like I needed to do something about it. A lot of people have great ideas, but very few people actually take action and do what they say. I really want to change that mentality.”

Cauley explained that three of the students who participated in the cleanup were from Penn State York. He recently met the York students on a service-learning trip to the Bahamas, which was jointly hosted by Penn State Brandywine and Penn State York. During their trip abroad, the students partnered with the Brighter Bahamas Foundation in an effort to promote literacy for Bahamian children. Two Temple University students, who are friends of Cauley, also joined in the Philadelphia cleaning effort.

The Philly Outreach Project also orchestrated a campus-wide goods drive, collecting items such as water, non-perishable foods, clothing and hygiene products. The items were later donated to Cityteam in Chester. According to its website, Cityteam connects with people in the Delaware Valley who are in need of food, clothing and a safe shelter.

“I think that going out and volunteering is part of our duty.”

-- Kevin Cauley, Penn State Brandywine student
and founder of the Philly Outreach Project 

Lynn Hartle, director of the Laboratory for Civic and Community Engagement and professor of education, was thrilled to see the Penn Staters take the lead and noted the importance of service in education.

“In education you develop knowledge, skills and dispositions,” Hartle said. “Doing service helps to develop the dispositions to be a part of your community, make a difference and make meaningful connections with people.”

Kristen Goessling, assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Brandywine, helped facilitate the project and praised the students’ efforts.

“Kevin’s passion for the environment is clearly grounded in his desire for a more socially and environmentally just world,” Goessling said. “Kevin, Christine and Grace were a pleasure to work with and this project was entirely student-driven. I believe that opportunities to serve and engage the community are essential for meaningful learning and development.”

Cauley recently became president of Penn State Brandywine’s civic and community engagement student club. He plans to continue the Philly Outreach Project and is working to organize at least one service project each semester.

“I think that going out and volunteering is part of our duty,” Cauley said. “If everyone was taking action, we’d live in a better world and have a lot less problems than the issues we’re faced with today.”