Community Action

Several Student's pose for a photo during Community Action

Welcome Class of 2022!

Community Action (CA) is a week-long immersion orientation program for the Princeton University first-year class coordinated by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. CA facilitates the transition to college by introducing first-year students to the values, expectations, and resources of the inclusive Princeton community.

Uniquely, Community Action:

  • promotes an ethos of civic values anchored on relationships and making informed choices; and
  • fosters collaborations between the University and community partners.

All CA participants are introduced to meaningful service and civic engagement at Princeton through the Pace Center for Civic Engagement’s Volunteer 101 workshop and the Field Guide to Service which helps students learn to do service well and have a positive impact in the community.

Through peer-led small groups, students are able to explore social issues of public significance, reflect on their own social and civic identity, and experience reciprocal community engagement in action. Each group lives together off-campus either in an urban setting that allows for direct interaction with diverse people and groups or an outdoor setting that allows for hands-on experiences in nature.  All students are exposed to organizations, individuals, and systems addressing social issue problem solving and actively participate in direct and indirect service projects with them. Each day students participate in guided conversations and activities to contextualize the service learning experiences that they are having in the group. They explore their personal beliefs and values connected to civic responsibility and think critically about the social issues. Mid-week, faculty and staff are invited to join the CA groups in service followed by Discourse Night, a dinner and conversation focused around scholarly inquiry and themes from the Pre-Read book selection.

Example Trips

Below are examples of groups that showcase the range of Community Action experiences:

Community Development Princeton: Neighborhood Revealed

Host Site Partner: Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church
Service Learning Partner:
Planet Princeton

Group Summary: This CA group explored the issue of immigration in the Princeton community, an issue that most individuals do not associate with the town. Through meetings with the Princeton Chief of Police, the Director of Princeton Human Services, and a local lawyer, as well as canvassing Princeton to speak with individual community members, the CA group became aware of issues such as wage theft and housing discrimination. Under the mentorship of Planet Princeton creator and editor, Krystal Knapp, participants then developed their journalistic skills researching additional information and writing about what they learned over the course of the week.  

Arts Trenton: Empowering Youth through Circus Acts

Host Site Partner: First United Methodist Church of Hightstown
Service Learning Partner:
Trenton Circus Squad

Group Summary: The CA group spent the week training and performing with the Trenton Circus Squad. The organization empowers young children and teenagers through circus arts promoting physical health through performance art and fostering a diverse community of committed young people that strive to improve the quality of their own lives. The week began with the CA group being trained by the youth “squad” members on juggling, aerial acts, clowning, and acrobatics (see CA leader Mica O’Brien ‘17 describe her experience on instagram) followed by local performances at the Greenwood House, Riverside Nursing Home, CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) and The Feed Truck.

Sustainability PEEC

Host Site Partner: Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC)
Service Learning Partners:
PEEC & Princeton University Office of Sustainability

Group Summary: PEEC hosted 12 small-groups, each focused broadly on the importance of environmental education, sustainable living, and appreciation for nature through a hands-on experience in a national park. Groups addressed issues around waste pollution, water purification, sustainable energy and biodiversity through comprehensive projects that illuminated the positive effect sustainable decisions can have on the surrounding environment and on local communities. Other examples of projects completed include: installations for the Ecozone demonstration room, an accessible touch table, sample green roofs, and a trash art competition (for more see the webstory Sustainability in Service). Groups also had the opportunity to canoe, hike, and participate in challenge courses on the PEEC campus.

For any questions regarding Orientation, please contact or visiting the Orientation website. We look forward to seeing you on campus soon!

Learn more about CA and its impact in the community in this video by Andie Ayala '19: