For 25 years, the Public Service Center has helped MIT achieve its mission of working for “the betterment of humankind.” Starting in 1988 with a strong foundation of local volunteering, we have expanded our scope through innovative programs that support MIT community members as they tackle local, national, and international quality-of-life issues through public service.
We look forward to continued growth in the next 25 years. We are constantly evolving to match changing opportunities, interests, and needs in order to maximize impact. Along the way, we rely on the minds, hands, and hearts of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends who join us in enabling MIT to serve the nation and the world.
Below are just some of the opportunities offered by the PSC. In addition to supporting existing programs, the PSC helps students plan initiatives, find resources, and cultivate leadership skills.
Creativity at Work
The annual MIT IDEAS Global Challenge provides students with an opportunity to develop their creative ideas for positive change in the world. Students and their teammates develop feasible, innovative, and effective solutions to problems facing underserved communities. With IDEAS Global Challenge mentoring and awards, teams can take an effective step toward resolving pressing challenges that affect the quality of life of individuals and communities.
Since 2001, the IDEAS Global Challenge has awarded funding to nearly 100 teams to transform their ideas into reality. Past innovations include a lever-powered all-terrain wheelchair for people in the developing world, an initiative to cultivate social entrepreneurs in India via mobile phone apps, and a portable Braille label maker that allows the visually impaired to identify anything from prescription bottles to cereal boxes with ease. These and other IDEAS Global Challenge innovations have improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. To learn more, visit the IDEAS Global Challenge website.
Public Service Fellowships and Internships provide students with the opportunity, funding, and advising support to address the needs of communities worldwide. Whether a student spearheads a project or works with an established community organization in Cambridge or China, successful projects build capacity and result in long-term, sustainable benefits for underserved communities.
Other MIT students and student groups use PSC Grants to fund their public service enterprises. PSC Grants enable students to leverage funding to create a larger impact through service. Grants have enabled water filtration projects in South America and tutoring programs in Boston and Cambridge. Grants offer flexibility in allowing students to design projects that match their ambitions.
Learning by Doing
Through volunteer programs and community employment, the PSC enables students to become involved in local, regional, and national communities. The Four Weeks for America Challenge enables MIT students to assist math and science teachers around the country in developing curricula and classroom management tools. Federal Work-Study students in the Community Service Work-Study program add to their work experience while assisting nonprofit organizations, government offices, and schools. MIT fraternities, sororities, independent living groups, and dorms participate in the annual FSILG&D Community Service Challenge as students unite around service through their social and residential groups. The Freshman Urban Program introduces new students to MIT and the surrounding community through service activities and discussion of urban issues. ReachOut connects MIT students with local children to foster a love of reading.
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