Astor Services for Children and Families
Astor Services for Children and Families in Rhinebeck, New York, functions as a school and residential space of rehabilitation, providing mental health services to children who have experienced emotional and/or physical trauma. Bard students become mentors and positive role models for these children, leading a range of activities for two hours each week. Activities are taught in a one-on-one or group setting, and range from theater and cooking to pottery and science projects; the activities depend on the shared interest of each Bard volunteer and the Astor student. After working with the children, we meet for supervision with the art therapist at Astor to discuss the sessions, hold additional trainings, and ask questions. The project serves as an opportunity for children to be part of a safe, fun environment in which they can develop their passions and learn skills. This program helps children who are overcoming obstacles in their lives to feel appreciated, listened to, and acknowledged.
Student Leaders: Tia Lee ’19 and Willa Baigelman ’19
Bard Math Circle
The Bard Math Circle is an enrichment program for upper elementary, middle, and high school students; families; and teachers. Our main programs are monthly library Math Circle events in Kingston and Tivoli, New York; competitions and prep sessions hosted at Bard College; a weeklong summer day program; and a Rubik’s Cube Club. We expose students to math from beyond their school curriculum, foster interaction between students and Bard undergraduate volunteers, and build enthusiasm for further study. Learn more at: bardmathcircle.org.
Student Leaders: Rachel Nalecz ’18, Ethan Richman ’20, Kate Blaine ’19, and Meagan Kenney ’19
Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative
The Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative (BPYI) is founded upon the belief that constructive civil engagement, cultural exchange, and education create an environment conducive to self-expression. We are excited to say that BPYI is the only entirely student-run Palestinian engagement program in the United States. We believe deeply in the idea that open dialogue is crucial in areas of conflict. Twice a year, a group of students from Bard College programs in New York, Berlin, Russia, and East Jerusalem travel to Mas’ha, Zawyah, and Bidya, small villages in the West Bank. In partnership with the local communities, we run children’s summer camps, organize community engagement projects, teach English and writing classes, and participate in cultural activities. Throughout the year, we cocreate a Language and Thinking–based curriculum with Al-Quds Bard students for our winter and summer programs. L&T, which couples personal expression and rigorous text analysis, is the heart of all Bard student experience, and is making a real difference to students in the West Bank. BPYI also facilitates on-campus events to engage a diversity of students in conversation about the Middle East.
Student Leaders: Renad Bdair ’19, Genevieve Chiola ’20, and Marliana Yost ’20
Bard Science Outreach
Bard Science Outreach (BSO) is a student-run project that promotes science education among middle school and high school students in the Hudson Valley. Every year we invite students from Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, New York, to our campus to perform scientific experiments; we also mentor them in their independent science projects that later go on to be science fair projects. BSO works with Bard faculty and students to host and judge the middle school science fair, coaching students for county- and state-level fairs down the line. BSO helps develop community projects, which go on to become part of the Citizen Science program at Bard. We cooperate with other TLS projects such as the Bard Math Circle, and are always looking for ways to collaborate with other groups and events in the community. We welcome involvement from both science majors and people who are simply interested in science.
Student Leader: Madeleine Breshears ’18
The Brookwood project is a math-teaching program in a youth incarceration facility for young men in Hudson, New York. We teach Math 90 (basic mathematical problems) and Math 100 (basic algebra). These are the remedial math courses for inmates in the college-bound program. The young men must pass these classes in order to take college-level math courses. In the future, we will expand our work beyond the college program to the many other academic programs within the facility.
Student Leader: Jazlyn Johnson ’19
Brothers At Bard
A character development, peer-mediation mentorship program for young men of color from underserved backgrounds, Brothers At Bard (BAB) is currently working with 15 high school students in 9th through 12th grades in Kingston, New York. The Bard members of the project play the role of “big brothers,” or mentors, to the young men in the cohort. Brothers At Bard has the unique ability to empower young men by exposing them not only to successful men of color but to men of color currently attending a highly selective four-year college. The mentors run a series of character development workshops and team-building activities with the cohort to promote academic excellence and college readiness. Our most important objective is to create a safe space and brotherhood circle among the students to generate a supportive atmosphere for character and identity development. BAB measures each mentee’s growth on a case-by-case basis by tracking improvements in attendance, behavior, and the classroom. As a mentoring program, we make sure our mentees are making positive life choices to ensure they continue to live a healthy, successful life they can define for themselves.
Student Leader: Tabias Wimby ’18
Building Up Hudson
Students in Building Up Hudson tutor and mentor high school students in Hudson, New York. We lead workshops catering to career development, college preparation, and college admissions, personal skill building, and positive personal expression. We also raise funds for Building Up Hudson scholarships for eligible high school seniors who could not otherwise afford college. The Building Up Hudson staff, consisting of the college mentor team, publicity squad, and fund-raising committee, is dedicated to the personal and academic growth of the young scholars we work with. We hope to instill values that will foster confidence for impacting the world.
Student Leaders: Jose Alexander ’18 and Marisa Finkelstein ’18
Community Engagement Arts Project
The Community Engagement Arts Project (CEAP) focuses on community art making that supports the process of finding a personal, creative, and empowering voice of expression through visual arts, movement, theater, music, poetry, and play. CEAP members use the arts to interact with children, teens, and adult community members to explore the emotional content of their lives and overcome personal challenges. Members attend on-campus arts workshops led by professional practitioners and educators to equip themselves with the knowledge and confidence to design and implement their own workshops at sites such as Coarc in Mellenville, New York; Camphill Ghent in Chatham, New York; and the Red Hook (New York) and Tivoli (New York) Public Libraries. In addition to engaging in arts programs with communities outside Bard, CEAP seeks to use the arts to build stronger community at Bard.
Student Leaders: Madison Emond ’18, Mia Lotan ’18, and Alexis Maresca ’20
Connecting Arts and Hearts
Connecting Arts and Hearts is a program in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston, New York that connects high school-aged girls with Bard College mentors through dance and other aspects of the performing arts to promote unity, self-confidence, and a sense of support. In addition, weekly discussion groups are held to target ways in which the students can prepare for college and life beyond high school.
Student Leaders: Sakinah Bennett ’21 and Skylar Walker ’21
Cuerdas para Cali
Cuerdas Para Cali (Strings for Cali) is a group of classically trained musicians who inspire students and celebrate cultural exchange through music education. Each summer, CPC travels to Colombia to work with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Siloé, a youth orchestra based in the Siloé barrio of Cali. The Orquesta de Siloé was founded by Fundación Sidoc to give disadvantaged youth in Siloé the opportunity to study music, by providing them with instruments, education, and performance outlets. CPC’s goal is to support the Siloé students in their musical growth, and to have a positive impact throughout their community. The project involves teaching and performing along with intense interpersonal engagement and exchange.
Student Leaders: Eleanor Lee TON ’18, Clara Engen TON ’19, and Omar Shelly
CultureConnect: Life, Learning, and Language
CultureConnect’s Life, Learning, and Language program provides a local support network for immigrant families in the forms of English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring, mentorship, and family advocacy. For legal support, CultureConnect provides informational sessions on individual rights, translation services, and a sanctuary for undocumented students and their families threatened by deportation. In the classroom, the group connects tutors from Bard College and surrounding schools to ESL students for biweekly tutoring sessions. Using an original pedagogy created by our community coordinator, Wendy Brisley, tutors meet individually (at close to a 1:1 relationship) with ESL students for homework support, language-building exercises, and mentorship.
Student Leaders: Mitchell Levinson ’20 and Lily Chavez ’20
Gifted Girls at Columbia
Gifted Girls at Columbia is a dual tutoring and mentoring project in an all-girls correctional facility in Hudson, New York. The Columbia Girls Secure Center houses youth, ages 13–21, sent there by criminal and family courts. Some girls may only be at the facility for a short time, while others may be transferred to a women’s prison after they turn 21. Our responsibility as tutors is to raise the academic bar in pursuit of closing the achievement gap. Mentoring is a key aspect of this project due to the importance of socialization and positive interaction. Gifted Girls at Columbia promotes the belief that every girl within the facility is gifted, no matter her circumstances, crime, or if anyone in her life has ever made her feel otherwise.
Student Leaders: Asha Lane ’20 and Micah Theodore ’20
Girls Group is an afterschool empowerment program for middle schoolers—an age that is tough for most people, and especially so for young women. Every week, we spend an hour after school with a group of seventh graders at their middle school in Kingston, New York. This mentorship program seeks to empower young women through education, discussion of issues relevant to this age group, and introduction of positive role models. By working together and talking about our own stories, we foster a safe environment for girls to share and learn from each other’s experiences, growing self-esteem all around. Our program has three main focus areas: cultivating a space of inclusion and belonging; building positive body image and self-confidence; and understanding healthy relationships and the concept of agency/consent. We run creative workshops and open a space for emotional vulnerability and a sense of collective comfort. We finish each semester with a field trip to Bard to help reinstate the idea that college is within reach and to get the girls excited about future learning. Our overarching goal is to help young girls find their voice in a society that often silences.
Student Leaders: Lucy Christiana ’19 and Lily Mojhedi ’19
Girls Who Code
Our project utilizes the resources of the Girls Who Code organization and exposes young women to the magic of computer science. Though the field of computer science is growing dramatically, there remains a clear disconnect between the world of computer science and the discouraging message young women receive regarding their capabilities for pursuing computer science careers. In our program young women explore programming not as a foreign world but as a skill they can fully acquire and develop. We empower young women to realize that they are capable of solving problems within their communities and the world at large through computer science. Though we focus on computer science, this project gives young women the confidence that they can pursue computer science or any other of the many STEM fields.
Student Leader: Rahma Ahmed ’19
Haiti Jakmel Ekspresyon Exchange
The Haiti Jakmel Ekspresyon Exchange is a student-driven partnership with a community center in Jakmel, Haiti. The project facilitates development within the local community by providing the center with STEM courses taught by Bard students. On a deeper level, the project is a cultural exchange that encourages the empowerment of both Bard and JE students alike. Every July, a small group of Bard students travels to Jakmel to teach courses on data mapping and collection to a combination of local politicians, students, professors, and city developers. The subjects for data collection range from HIV/AIDS rates to water justice, but most importantly, the areas of focus are determined by the Haitians themselves. By placing the power of data back into the hands of the people, the community can effectively access the needs of the city and surrounding towns, without relying on foreign aid and NGOs.
Student Leader: Ollie Bentley ’21
Harvesting Justice is a student-run collective that helps up-and-coming farms in the Hudson Valley in tandem with the Freedom Food Alliance and other initiatives to fight institutionalized racism and social injustices. We provide support for small-scale local farms while engaging in conversations around class, race, gender, ability, status, and other aspects of our identity in order to break down stigma around agriculture and work against institutional barriers of access that are present in the modern food system. We provide weekly opportunities for students to volunteer on and learn from local farms that could use our assistance. We glean food donations for the Victory Bus, a project of the Freedom Food Alliance, which supplies affordable transportation to New York residents who wish to visit their families in prisons upstate while providing complimentary shares of fresh produce for the incarcerated and their families.
Student Leaders: Olivia Donahue ’19 and Sarah Goldberg ’20
The Latino population in the Hudson Valley and Catskills has grown tremendously. La Voz is the only publication written in Spanish for the more than 140,000 Latinos of Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Sullivan, and Columbia counties. Latinos are here to stay, and need the tools to learn to navigate the system in this country and in this state. This is the need that La Voz strives to meet every month. Based at Bard College, and thanks mostly to the work of volunteers, La Voz is a highly respected local publication, winning awards for its overall design and cultural content from the New York Community Media Alliance and from the Dutchess County executive. Each month we distribute 6,000 copies of La Voz at more than 500 locations across 25 towns and cities for an estimated 30 thousand readers Bard students work directly with editor Mariel Fiori ’05 on all aspects of the magazine’s production, from illustration and reporting to community outreach and distribution. Fiori began the magazine with Emily Schmall ’05 as a TLS project while an undergraduate at Bard. After graduation, Fiori was hired by the College to publish La Voz on a permanent basis. Learn more here: lavoz.bard.edu
Administrative Contact: Mariel Fiori ’05
Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance
In conjunction with Vassar, Marist, Dutchess Community College, SUNY New Paltz, and many local nonprofits, faith-based congregations, and individuals, we are resettling refugee families in our region. There are currently an estimated 65 million displaced people on the planet. The alliance works closely with Church World Services (CWS), an organization authorized by the U.S. government to resettle fully vetted families from challenged global locations. We develop welcoming teams to help families make the transition to living in the Hudson Valley.
Contact: Paul Marienthal
The Old Gym
The Old Gym is Bard’s only student-run theater. Centrally located on the Annandale campus, it is a converted gymnasium that now functions as a black-box space with all the amenities of a fine amateur theater. We focus on presenting student work to showcase the abundance of creativity and talent at Bard. The Old Gym’s mission is to provide a safe, multipurpose space for anyone (dancers, actors, directors, musicians, photographers, visual artists, filmmakers; both majors and non-majors) to create radical, visionary work and share that work with the Bard community. We have several annual events including several theater festivals, a haunted house, and the Black History Month Gala.
Student Leaders: Shane Crowley ’18, Maya Sokolow ’19, Liv Troiano ’20, and Macey Downs ’20
New Orleans Exchange
Since 2005, the New Orleans Exchange has strived to empower New Orleanians working to rebuild their city as a more just, equitable, and sustainable place. An entirely student-run program, the Bard New Orleans project’s members have traveled to New Orleans each year since Hurricane Katrina. More than 900 Bard students have worked to meet the needs of local communities through close partnerships with organizations such as the Broadmoor Improvement Association, McDonough 35 High School, Andrew H. Wilson Charter School, and Bard Early College in New Orleans. In the last year we shifted our focus to work on criminal justice reform. We support VOTE, Voice of the Experienced, which is run for and by formerly incarcerated people. We assist them with community outreach, day-to-day operations, research, and legislative advocacy. We have canvassed for city ordinances that we have then seen passed and enacted during the next trip, and recently spent the summer working on a detailed report about incarceration of women and girls. The report will be published by VOTE. We love our VOTE family and look forward to the next chapter of the project.
Student Leaders: V. Claire Sperka ’18, Madeline Firkser ’19, and Lucy Christiana ’19
Nicaragua Education Initiative
The Nicaragua Education Initiative facilitates educational projects that empower community members in Chacraseca, a rural town in western Nicaragua. For the past 15 years, Bard students have traveled to Chacraseca for three weeks in January and live with host families there. The initiative has evolved from hurricane relief to sustainable education. We provide English, science, and math lessons to community members, ranging from age 5 to adult. We also implement art projects as a means of encouraging creative expression. We maintain a presence in Chacraseca throughout the year by funding a number of academic scholarships. While our project provides community members with eclectic lessons, it also fosters a valuable educational and multicultural exchange. The Nicaragua Education Initiative values learning both inside and outside of the classroom. The connections and relationships we build cannot be learned at a desk, and this multicultural exchange widens the perspectives of each individual involved in the project.
Student Leader: Evelyn Reyes Delgado ’19
Project Why: Bard
Project Why: Bard is an annual trip to New Delhi, India, to work with Project Why, a school for more than a thousand slum children in that devastatingly complex city. The corrupt public school system in India leaves children who cannot afford private schooling without adequate—or often any—education. We augment the curriculum, working with full-time teachers in subjects they are less familiar with; this includes spoken English, the arts, technology, and life skills such as first aid. We also run teacher trainings, which improve spoken English and equip teachers with pedagogical skills.
Student Leaders: Emily Fox ’18 and Meghann Trago ’19
Ramapo for Children Project
The Ramapo for Children TLS project connects the Bard community with an organization located in Rhinebeck, New York, that provides training, services, and programs for individuals with special needs and the people who surround and educate them. Bard students engage with a transition-to-independence program for young adults, school group retreats, monthly teen leadership programs, weekend events, and a 250-child summer camp. The Ramapo for Children TLS project works collaboratively with the CCE on Science Night Out and MLK Day of Engagement events.
Student Leader: Lillian Bressennel ’18
Red Hook English as a Second Language Center
The Red Hook English as a Second Language (ESL) Center is a biweekly ESL class in which nonnative English speakers work with Bard students in a one-on-one relationship. Originally started to address migrant workers’ needs to learn English—in order to advocate for themselves and become part of the Hudson Valley community—the center has opened its doors to other students while maintaining migrants from Latin America as the core of our student population. As leaders, we seek to create a comfortable learning environment for community members who might feel isolated by limited English proficiency, while allowing Bard students the opportunity to build relationships with members of our community who may otherwise be overlooked.
Student Leaders: Karin Roslund ’18 and Mehgan Abdel-Moneim ’18
Red Hook Residential Tutoring Program
Bard student volunteers holds weekly tutoring sessions with the young men incarcerated at the Red Hook Residential Center (RHRC) in Upper Red Hook, New York. Subject areas include reading, writing, math, and social studies, as well as TASC/SAT prep. With the assistance of the RHRC administration, we tailor specific materials to fit the needs and interests of each student in order to align with their class curricula. Through this project, we hope to offer students at RHRC the opportunity to meet or exceed their grade level, to enhance their understanding of fundamental academic material, and, most of all, to foster in them an appreciation for continued education.
Student Leader: Stella Frank ’19
Sail Forward is an afterschool enrichment program in the Germantown Central School District. Based in the elementary school, Bard students create unique programs rooted in their own interests and skills. The curriculum serves the needs of the classroom and spans various disciplines including creative writing, art, debate, and the performing arts. The projects are intended as collaborations between students, faculty members, and administrative staff.
Student Leader: Gabriela Garcia ’19 and Kerri Anne Bigornia ’19
Surrealist Training Circus
The Surrealist Training Circus (STC) is a creative forum at Bard College that gives students the opportunity to learn unique skills such as acrobatics, fire breathing, juggling, and poi spinning. These are taught directly to Bard students by other Bard students or Bard alumni/ae, and every skill level is welcome to join. STC members believe that academic and rational training fall short in preparing students for today’s world; in response, they pursue public theater and circus arts, and favor postapocalyptic lifestyles as modes of training for the future. STC is a complex organizational puzzle, and through questioning and critique, the Circus performs a crucial civic engagement function. STC puts on a show at the end of every May that is one of Bard’s most attended events; students—who have worked hard all year to learn and perfect their skills—perform for their peers and community members in a show completely designed by them.
Student Leader: Mary Verrelli ’18
Tuimarishane is a student initiative that creates a peer-to-peer HIV/AIDS education network in Africa and addresses the lack of HIV/AIDS education programs geared toward students. In most communities in Africa, sex is still a taboo topic and the rare conversations about sex happen in secret. The secretive nature with which conversations about sex happen means very often wrong information is spread. Although there seems to be an increasing amount of shows and commercials about safe sex targeted towards youth, many young people are still ignorant of basic information about sex. There are very few judgment-free spaces where they can get the answers to their questions. In addition, STDs and STIs are often stigmatized and there are a lot of myths circulating about them. As a result, many people are left to inform themselves. And truly horrifically, many people choose not to know their HIV status out of fear of being judged. In Ghana, we work with an organization called True Vision Ghana. True Vision Ghana is a non-profit organization that works to promote the realization of the rights of underprivileged children that are affected by HIV/AIDS.
Student Leader: Shila Bayor ’18
WRITE ON! offers books and free creative writing workshops for adults experiencing homelessness, women recovering from domestic violence, a shelter providing mental health services, and Bard’s local community. Believing in the power of the writing and literature, WRITE ON! encourages and empowers our individual voices and the strength of our stories in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. We provide reading and writing materials for our workshop participants through book-collection drives and donations. Bard students volunteer to collect and distribute books, transcribe workshop participants’ writing, and assist in workshops.
Student Leader: LaVonne Roberts ’19