UHC Community Scholars Program

The UHC Community Scholars Program works with community members and organizations around the City of Pittsburgh to develop experiential learning opportunities (e.g. research projects, fieldwork studies, program development, etc.) for motivated and socially conscious Pitt students.

Organizations in the community request to have a Community Scholar by submitting a Community Scholar project description to UHC that includes specifications on the exact academic background and skills that would qualify students to apply for the position.

Community Scholar positions are always created by organizations in the community while the UHC coordinates the soliciting of candidates and application process. Community Scholar projects must be academically-dependent in that they require students to apply specific background knowledge and theory in order to contribute to the specific needs and efforts of the organization.

What does a Community Scholar do?

Students apply to be Community Scholars based on how their academic backgrounds and personal interests relate to the Community Scholar project. Students also apply to the program based on their ability to make a long-term time commitment as defined by the organization that created the Community Scholar project.

After a student is accepted as an organization’s Community Scholar, he or she begins working on the project defined by the organization. All Community Scholar projects are:

  • Community-Driven – All Community Scholar projects are created by organizations and community members in the City of Pittsburgh. Students apply to a Community Scholar position that is specific to their academic background and personal interests. Students do not develop the projects for Community Scholar positions.
  • Academically Focused – The foundation of a Community Scholar position relies on the specific academic knowledge and skills required to accomplish the outlined project. Community Scholars must apply their classroom experiences and theoretical background to their Community Scholar project.
  • Project-driven – Community Scholar responsibilities are framed in terms of specific projects with a community partner rather than tasks. Projects can take the form of conventional research, feasibility studies, fieldwork, teaching, program development, etc. Community Scholars must take ownership over their project.
  • Action-oriented –Community Scholar projects must actively contribute to mission of the Community Partner.

As Community Scholars work on their projects, they also participate in reflective curriculum with the UHC Academic Community Engagement Advisor that contextualizes their experience in terms of their understanding of their academic interests and their definitions of civic responsibility and citizenship. Community Scholars are also given a mentor within the organization who supports and guides the Community Scholar through his/her project as well as provides context as to how the Community Scholar’s efforts connect to the larger history, mission, and values of the organization.

Upon the completion of their time as Community Scholars, students must invest in their social networks and activate peers to get involved. Community Scholars must describe their organization, share their efforts as Community Scholars, and encourage engagement with the organization by hosting an event, writing an editorial, putting on a presentation, etc.

Past Community Scholar positions have included:

  • A Politics and Philosophy student interested in housing justice was a Community Scholar with the Community Justice Project. The student applied her social science research practices and methods to develop the factual basis for a case relating to local housing policies.
  • A Political Science and Spanish student interested in education and youth empowerment was a Community Scholar with FUSE Wilkinsburg. The student applied her skills in writing and organizing to help manage a youth garden-based education program and creative writing workshops.

Students apply to be a Community Scholar so that they can…

  • Build a meaningful relationship with a Community Partner who engages in issues that the Scholar is passionate about
  • Learn about their Community Partner’s role in the city of Pittsburgh and beyond
  • Impact a community partner through working on a community-driven project that requires the Scholar’s academic background
  • Gain experience in applying their classroom understandings and academic theories to tangible, action-oriented projects that positively impact and support the community.

Community Partners receive a Community Scholar so that they can…

  • Build a meaningful relationship with a Community Scholar who is interested in learning about engaging in issues that they are passionate about
  • Invest in enthusiastic and talented Pitt students who are future leaders in society
  • Mentor young, dedicated students on Community Scholar projects that connect academic theory to supporting the organization’s mission and efforts.
  • Promote active participation in the community and show Scholars how their Pitt educations can impact their communities.

How can I be a Community Scholar?

If you are interested in learning more about the program and current Community Scholar positions that are available, please contact Holly Hickling (hlh39@pitt.edu).

How can my organization request a Community Scholar?

To learn more about how you can develop a Community Scholar position contact UHC Academic Community Engagement Advisor, Holly Hickling (hlh39@pitt.edu). If you would like to details on how submit a Community Scholar position description click here.

Once a request for Community Scholar is submitted, the Academic Community Engagement Advisor will begin soliciting applicants. However, Community Scholar positions can only begin at the commencement of the fall, spring, or summer terms. It is suggested that organizations submit a Community Scholar request well in advance of the beginning of the fall, spring, and summer terms.


Contact UHC Academic Community Engagement Advisor, Holly Hickling (hlh39@pitt.edu).