Key success factors

  • The three interconnected programs allow for different levels of applied learning and mentorship.  

  • The structure enables greater economies of scale and broad support for community engagement since it decreases the amount of planning time and administration for the community partner. Since the projects are short, they are minimally disruptive to the organization’s routines and reduce training and supervision time.  

  • The program initially partnered with schools, but has expanded to include non-profit organizations as community partners to offer an even greater range of experiences to students.  

Unique characteristics

  • The program provides a work-integrating learning opportunity for students in first-year and in large arts courses where logistics are typically prohibitive.  

  • In 2019, 53.7% of students participating were international students. For these students in particular, working with a local organization can cultivate shared reference points among students with diverse life experiences. It can also influence how new international students relate to and navigate their host city. 

  • Students work on interdisciplinary teams. Applied learning is not required; students can opt to work on projects in their field or explore a new topic.   

  • The program is open to students from other post-secondary intuitions. Students can spend their reading week at UBC and participate in the three-day program.  


  • The multi-layer aspect of the program means there’s a lot of moving parts. For example, each project leader is assigned a project; if there are more projects, leaders must be added or take on additional work.  


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Key characteristics

  • Type: Service Learning
  • Year program was established: 2002
  • Number of students per year: 350 (including 25 project leaders and 44 student leaders)
  • Number of employers/partners per year: 19-25
  • Programs/academic disciplines participating: All
  • Duration of experience: 23 hours over three days, project and student leader roles are 80-100 hours over the academic year
  • Submitted by: Krista Knechtle, Julie Walchli, Susan Grossman