Getting Involved

As an institution, we are particularly proud of the place we occupy in one of the most diverse urban settings in the nation. We are located in Washington Heights, a community that is animated by residents from diverse backgrounds, including the Dominican Republic and a variety of Central and South American nations. We are within a ten-minute drive of Harlem, one of the nation’s most illustrious centers of African American culture and arts.

As a center of higher learning in a majority minority urban center, we strive to practice the kind of public health that we preach and promote in our classrooms, our research, and our programmatic interventions. We are surrounded by an enormous range of public health challenges, and we are committed to connecting our work to the needs of our community.  

The following are several involvement opportunities available to students throughout the year. Some students may take on a formal or informal position while others may prefer to participate in a one-time event:

  • Best Buddies
    • Best Buddies promotes the social inclusion and acceptance of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) by matching CU students with community members who have IDD. Together, our members with and without disabilities launch advocacy efforts, volunteer nearby, and attend bonding events such as picnics, museum outings, baking events, and sports games. Volunteer commitment of 1 or 2 outings per month and 1 chapter meeting each month. Interested in Volunteering? Please email your year, school, and a brief statement of interest to bestbuddies@communityimpact.columbia.edu
  • Health Education and Awareness League (HEAL)
    • HEAL volunteers teach health awareness to middle-school children attending public schools in Harlem. Volunteers also meet weekly to create a dynamic and interactive curriculum, covering preventative health, nutrition, drugs, careers in health professions and other relevant topics.  Volunteer commitment of 3 hours/week, Fridays, off-campus (currently they are at Storefront Academy).  Email cu.heal@gmail.com and please fill out the form at http://communityimpact.columbia.edu/get-involved/interested.  
  • Bloom Girls Mentoring

  • Coach Dave and the Dreamers

  • Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership

    • Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership (CHHMP) is a weekly, student-run free clinic providing free and quality health services to the homeless, uninsured, and underserved in West Harlem. We hold clinic every Tuesday evening from 5:30-9:30 pm and operate out of the basement of St. Mary’s Church at 521 West 126th Street. We offer medical and dental services, diabetes education counseling, and occupational therapy to all our patients at no cost to them.

      Providing quality care to our patients is very important to us here at CHHMP, and with such a diverse patient population, we often rely on our medical interpreters to assist us in this realm. If you are interested in becoming part of our care team, please reach out to Amma Ntoso at adn2123@cumc.columbia.edu for more information and next steps. 

  • Community Impact at Columbia University

  • Greater Community Reach

  • ¿hablas español?

    • Welcome & help process Hurricane Maria refugees from Puerto Rico
  • ​​​H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths
    • H.E.A.L.T.H is an acronym that stands for Health, Education, Academic, Life-skills, Training, and Help.Inc is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed for the charitable and educational purposes of assisting youth. They strive to combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquency, improve the quality of education, health care and life-skills training offered to adolescence and young adults.  Please contact Heather Butts, a lecturer in HPM at Mailman is the co-founder and executive director of the organization

  • Health Leads

    • Health Leads volunteers work at family help desks at Harlem Hospital. They work directly with patients, doctors, and nurses to link patients with eligible health insurance and other programs such as food pantries, adult education and employment as requested. Volunteers also follow-up with patients and doctors and attend reflection session to discuss issues in public health and poverty and to talk about program development. The advocate commitment is approximately 5 hours per week, on and off campus. If you are interested in volunteering please email healthleadscolumbia@gmail.com.
  • Hip Hop Public Health
  • Harlem Health Promotion Center

  • Lang Youth Medical Program

  • New York Immigration Coalition

    • Connect with the New York Immigration Coalition to work on:

      • Green Light/Luz Verde NY: Driving Together

      • Coverage 4 All campaign: expand Child Health Plus coverage to all New Yorkers up to age 29 earning incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level, regardless of immigration status 

  • Operation Exodus Inner City

    • Operation Exodus is a faith-based organization that believes zip code should never dictate the quality of education a child receives.  Commitment is negotiable.  If you are interested in serving by mentoring or tutoring, please e-mail volunteer@operationexodus.org

  • Rural and Migrant Ministry
    • Connect with Rural and Migrant Ministry to help with statewide campaign for the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act, support lobby Day in Albany, attend Rural Women’s Summit, participate in alternative spring break
  • SHOUT - Student Health Outreach Program 
    • SHOUT volunteers educate families about the availability of health insurance and other government benefits and provide eligibility and screenings. Volunteers serve in community-based organizations, St Mary's Church on W126th St, BCI on Broadway and 114th St.  SHOUT partners with two active non-profits, SeedCo and Children’s Defense Fund for training and enrollment activities. Volunteer commitment of 3 hours/week, various days, off-campus.  Email shout.cu@gmail.com
  • Teens on Communal Boards
    • Volunteers will serve as mentors for teen activist/advocates.  Volunteers will facilitate the teens' civic efficacy in developing an activist's skill set:   research, consensus building, team building, organizing, presentation skills, and networking efforts.  Teenagers may serve as representatives in the city's council's participatory budgeting process, community boards, or members of the Manhattan President's teen advisory board.  To serve as a mentor, please contact Al Kurland from Teens on Communal Boards.  Email akurland@palnyc.org  
  • The Center for Court Innovation
    • The Center for Court Innovation will be hiring 10 Engagement Coordinators for the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety to support community building and cross agency partnership in the South Bronx, East/Central Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and Staten Island.  They are looking for candidates with experience in community engagement/organizing and/or community development. The ideal candidate will be passionate, skilled, and experienced working with communities to promote health and safety.  More on the positions at http://www.courtinnovation.org/employment/engagement-coordinator 

A selection of Columbia University engagement opportunities include: