Badger Volunteers is a semester-long program that pairs teams of students with community organizations to volunteer 1–4 hours each week at the same organization. The program was designed to foster meaningful and consistent connections between community partners and students over the course of a semester. Since 2008, Badger Volunteers have provided 222,293 hours of service to the community.
The impact of the Badger Volunteers program goes far beyond a number of hours served. UW students are mentoring and tutoring local youth, working to enhance the water quality in Madison lakes, supporting access to healthy food and more. In turn they are developing the skills to be lifelong engaged citizens, making friends with campus and community members and learning about the root causes of challenges facing their neighbors.
“We’ve been able to partner with so many organizations, bring so many hours of service to our community, and expose students to careers and pathways for civics engagement that they may have never been exposed to before,” said Badger Volunteers Coordinator Reuben Sanon. “We’re having a positive impact on the future of democracy and our world wherever Badger Volunteers may go.
The Morgridge Center will be hosting the Badger Volunteers Homecoming Open House at the Morgridge Center on Friday, Oct. 19 from 7–8:30 p.m. after the Homecoming Parade. Badger Volunteers alumni, current volunteers and community partners are invited to celebrate the development of the program.
To celebrate the accomplishments of its partners in the community over the last 10 years, Badger Volunteers is creating a yearbook featuring current and past volunteers as well as community partners. Homecoming attendees will be invited to sign the yearbook at the open house.
“Every year, hundreds of students graduate with a better understanding of how they can contribute as community leaders and change makers using the skills that they learn in school and through volunteering,” Sanon said.
In honor of the 10-year anniversary, Badger Volunteers will be taking steps to make sure everyone gets the most out of their experience. Badger Volunteers will host education sessions to equip Badger Volunteers with a community context to the work they are doing. Volunteers are required to attend an education session to connect their direct service work with larger issues like environmental racism, community organizing, public health and more.
Badger Volunteers will continue to cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships. Not only do Badger Volunteers get to work with community partners to meet community-identified needs, but the program also allows students to learn more about spaces that are different from their own.
“When students work alongside our community leaders, it allows us to live up to our responsibility that is the Wisconsin Idea in more productive, mutually beneficial and creative ways,” Sanon said.