Mount Holyoke's CBL Program was established in the early 1990s to connect academic learning with social change, community service, and preparation for citizenship. Led in succession by faculty members Martha Ackmann (Gender Studies) and Preston Smith (Politics), the program supported Mount Holyoke faculty to develop over a dozen courses connecting to numerous community partnerships in area communities such as Holyoke, South Hadley, Springfield, and Amherst. Many of these partnerships built productive, mutually-beneficial relationships between faculty, students, and community partners which are now well-established and continue to be supported by the CBL Program’s operating budget and dedicated endowed funds.
In 2008 the program hired its first full-time coordinator, Alan Bloomgarden. The CBL program has expanded course and fellowship partnerships and projects in area communities, now supporting between 25-30 CBL courses each year enrolling 400-450 students annually and 40-50 students in fellowship and mentorship positions. CBL supervises additional students in paid and volunteer projects undertaken via independent studies, grant-funded stipends, federal work-study funds, and other partnerships.