Research has positively connected participation in community-engaged activities with gains in retention and completion, career development, satisfaction with college, and sense of institutional belonging. University of Pittsburgh students are similar to their national peers in that a subset of our student body is inclined toward such experiences and seeks to participate across curricular and co-curricular environments. Despite the availability of high-quality engagement opportunities, the University has not yet leveraged them or made connections between them to fully realize or assess educational experience gains such as sense of belonging or civic growth.
The Pathways for Civic Growth project does so, via two primary goals: 1) creating better access to experiences for Pitt students who are inclined toward civic engagement and 2) helping students to build a progressive portfolio of civic engagement experiences that are meaningful to them over the length of their educational careers at Pitt. This will be accomplished through the assembly of a formal coalition of civic engagement programs (across academic and co-curricular environments), development of a catalog of available civic engagement opportunities for students, creation of a diagnostic tool that measures students civic motivations and goals, implementation of a civic mentoring protocol that matches students to civic opportunities so that they can develop a progressive portfolio of experiences, and assessment of the resulting outcomes in terms of sense of institutional belonging and civic growth. We posit that the Pathways for Civic Growth project will become a highly valuable feature of an individualized Pitt experience that helps students to personalize their education and strengthen the benefits found through community engagement.