Homelessness and Poverty


Detroit, MI

Renowned in the 1950s for its booming car business, the city of Detroit has since fallen on hard times; “Motor City” residents continuously struggle against high rates of poverty, crime, and urban decay. Myriad service organizations have sprung up to facilitate the city’s rejuvenation: Urban Neighborhood Initiatives fosters land stewardship and education in the Springwells Village neighborhood, the Heidelberg Project enables street transformation through art, and Nortown tackles community development in the Eight Mile Road area. Participants will assist these organizations in their missions by completing outdoor beautification projects, art installation upkeep, and community education initiatives. A week spent in Detroit will challenge participants to visualize a city’s potential from a grassroots standpoint.

Site Leaders: Julia Gallagher, Maria Loaiza Bonilla, and Sachin Sanam

Site Cost: $245 before fee waiver


Ashville, NC

While often celebrated for its scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, burgeoning art community, and hip restaurants, Asheville, NC, is also known for being a homelessness hub in the South. Through Haywood Street Congregation--an organization which emphasizes “being with” over “doing for”--participants will trace the “Invisible Box” walk utilized by those living on the streets and will prepare a free meal for community members in a manner that emulates the style of a nice restaurant. With the Veterans’ Restoration Quarters, participants will tend a garden and share a meal with veterans experiencing homelessness. Partnering with Homeward Bound, participants will engage in facility upkeep and facilitate a newly housed individual’s move-in process. Finally, a Poverty Walk tour conducted by guides experiencing homelessness will shed light on a side of the city rarely seen by its more affluent members. This site will challenge participants to step outside of their comfort zones and rethink their perspective on homelessness.

Site Leaders: Cyrus Lloyd and Sweeya Raj

Site Cost: $245 before fee waiver


Nashville, TN

Beyond the Vanderbilt bubble, the city of Nashville is rapidly growing. With high urbanization comes displacement and gentrification, meaning higher rates of homelessness. On this site, participants will work with a variety of organizations tackling these issues from different angles. They’ll work with Open Table Nashville, an organization that both advocates for the homeless and provides basic and long-term aid, as well as with Nashville Rescue Mission and Room in the Inn , organizations that seek to serve the homeless by offering food, clothing, and shelter. Students will help out at Safe Haven , a shelter for families experiencing homelessness, and the Nashville Food Project and Second Harvest, organizations committed to alleviating food insecurity. Additionally, students will be able to work with The Contributor, which provides opportunities for income generation to hundreds experiencing homelessness throughout our city. Throughout the week, students will engage in several educational immersion experiences in which they interact with the homeless population and learn about homelessness in their own city.

Site Leaders: McKenzie Green and Sanjana Satish

Site Cost: $230 before fee waiver


Bloomington, IN

According to the USDA’s 2015 report, approximately 12.7% of American households are food insecure, with one in five children affected by food insecurity. The rate is even higher in Indiana, where 15.4% of Indiana residents are experiencing food insecurity. This site seeks to learn about and address this issue through a variety of different organizations, all unified by the common goal of eliminating the growing issue of hunger in Bloomington. Participants will volunteer with Pantry 279, an entirely volunteer-run food pantry started by girl scouts, and also with Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a pantry distributing healthy food in a manner that is dignified and promotes self-sufficiency. Finally, participants will have the opportunity to actively serve food by volunteering at Monroe Community Kitchen and will learn about how food is collected and distributed to non-profit pantries by spending a day at Hoosier Hills Food Bank. By the end of the week, participants will have developed a deeper understanding of how to combat food insecurity.

Site Leaders: Irena Chiang, Nate Glugla, and Nolan Raghu

Site Cost: $240 before fee waiver


San Francisco, CA

Situated near the heart of San Francisco’s financial district, the impoverished Tenderloin district stands in stark comparison to the affluent neighborhoods the surround it. Although it is a vibrant hub for ethnic diversity, the Tenderloin is also one of the most economically depressed and crime-ridden regions of San Francisco. During the week, participants will work alongside a variety of San Francisco organizations including GLIDE , the St. Anthony Foundation, The Homeless Prenatal Program, and San Francisco SafeHouse on various projects such as preparing and serving meals, aiding with homeless outreach initiatives, and engaging with the people that these organizations serve. Each of these organizations offers a unique approach to the goal of eliminating homelessness, allowing participants to compare and contrast strategies. Throughout the week, participants on this site will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the unique culture of the area and to gain a deeper understanding of the reality of life in the Golden Gate City.

Site Leaders: Geetha Gowda and Jason Scott

Site Cost: $560 before fee waiver


Oklahoma City, OK

Tucked away in the Midwest of the United States, Oklahoma is home to the country’s highest incarceration rate. With each sentence comes the inevitable admission into and out of prison; the latter signifying the tumultuous experience of reentry into society. Increasingly long and harsh sentences have led to the problem of recidivism, which occurs when one who has previously been incarcerated again is sentenced to prison. In the heart of Oklahoma City is The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM ), whose goal is to combat recidivism and assist inmates with their transition out of prison and into society. TEEM provides educational and vocational workshops, mentorships, and employment opportunities to those who have only six to nine months left on their sentence. Participants on this site will work with TEEM to promote the organization and conduct educational workshops on a variety of topics. By working one-on-one with currently incarcerated individuals in both the TEEM facility and a nearby prison, the group will gain insight into the issues of mass incarceration and reentry, and how education can serve as a tool for justice.

Site Leaders: Evan Etheridge, Gracie Rule, and Yuhang Zhang

Site Cost: $250 before fee waiver