Community Fellows and Course Mentors

The Community Based Learning Program at Mount Holyoke College offers paid academic-year internships for students to develop and apply leadership and organizing skills. By connecting students' academic learning to social issues, CBL students develop citizenship, advocacy and career skills.

CBL Fellowship and Mentorships advance social justice, education and community development through experiential learning in campus-community partnerships and offer invaluable opportunities to learn from a rich array of partners who are professionals in community organizations throughout the Pioneer Valley, who are committed to co-educating Mount Holyoke students with CBL faculty and staff.

Community Based Learning positions require significant commitments of time and passion and are awarded on a highly selective basis in consultation with the Community Based Learning Program staff and in conjunction with Mount Holyoke College faculty, staff, and community partners. 

CBL Fellows and Mentors become;

  • ENGAGED with social issues and committed to positive social change
  • CULTURALLY COMPETENT able to bridge divides of class, race and socio-economic status
  • SKILLED at critical analysis and creative problem-solving
  • TALENTED networkers, consensus-builders and project leaders
  • PROFICIENT at mapping and mobilizing community assets for a greater public good
  • EXPERIENCED at both collaboration and working independently in workplaces devoted to challenging urgent social issues


Community Fellows work on community organizing, health, education, college access, youth development, environmental, social and economic justice projects. Duties and projects are determined together by community agency staff and students. Fellows become valued capacity-builders for organizations and projects with which they work by:

  • Recruiting and placing volunteers, delivering orientation and training programs, and co-supervising students in service
  • Leading and participating in community outreach and education projects, and organizing responses to urgent social issues
  • Conducting research on best practices, grant opportunities, and supporting events and fundraising efforts
  • Preparing or maintaining web sites, social media, brochures, newsletters and other publications
  • Supporting program assessment and evaluation

Participating community-based organizations work in the fields of: community development, health, education, and youth programs; and environmental, social, and economic justice programs. Some CBL Fellows may work on other community and campus based projects on behalf of the CBL Program. Fellows are supported by CBL Program trainings and academic coursework to acquire and develop skills and strategies for capacity-building among non-profit and education organizations.


Mentors operate in the context of a specific CBL course. Mentors assist course instructors in carrying out CBL components of the class. Responsibilities depend on the needs and plans of course instructors, but generally include providing logistical support to the partnership, establishing and/or maintaining relationships with local organizations, placing students or facilitating their orientation, and transporting students to and from sites.

Mentors may be asked to monitor CBL sites in the field and to attend class to provide in-classroom support such as leading CBL-related reflection discussions. Mentors are typically recruited and selected by Mount Holyoke faculty from among students who have taken CBL courses or worked with them previously. Mentors are trained, supported, and paid by the CBL Program.

Administrative Fellows

Administrative Fellows assist the CBL Program as student staff members. Administrative Fellows support community Fellows' and Mentors' projects, plan events and workshops, advance program communications and outreach, and facilitate transportation solutions.

Administrative Fellows must have experience working with the CBL Program, be highly organized, able to work independently, efficient with time management, able to work well with others, and able to represent the CBL Program on and off campus. Administrative Fellows are hired as needed to fulfill roles or community projects in support of CBL goals.  

Application and Selection

The Community Based Learning Program recruits applicants annually each spring, for the following year. CBL Fellow and Mentor applications will be accepted and reviewed annually April through August, with students committing for the full following academic year. However, accepted fellows are encouraged to connect term-time placements to local summer internships, including opportunities connected with Nexus minors or other UAF resources supporting summer internships.

Interested MHC students are encouraged to discuss possible Fellowships or other CBL projects with the Director throughout the year. A small number of applicants may be considered at other times of the year. 

Priority will be given to applicants that;

  • Propose community engagement projects that respond to an identified community need, with significant consideration of relevant resources and partner aspirations.
  • Demonstrate an understanding and familiarity with the community-based organization, the population it serves, the community it is in, and the services it provides.
  • Best connect student skills, interests and intellectual/professional trajectories with opportunities presented by community partners.
  • Respect the multiple perspectives, sources of knowledge, needs and opportunities within the community.
  • Enhance civic participation and social justice on campus and in the community.
  • Reflects the principles of the Holyoke Campus Compact.

Final selection of Fellows: Depends on creating a compelling match between student interests, skills, and qualifications, and community priorities, needs, and opportunities. 

Final selection for Mentors: Depends on faculty endorsement of Mentor applicants.

Students interested in becoming a CBL Fellow or Mentor should:

  1. REVIEW: Eligibility, Requirements and Expectations 
  2. CONSIDER: Transportation *options* as they develop community-based learning projects. 
  3. APPLY: Click HERE to start the process

Having a car or MHC Fleet License is very helpful, though not required. College and public transportation options DO exist but are limited

Other Community Based Learning Opportunities

New students to Mount Holyoke or to the region should take time to learn about area communities and volunteer opportunities before seeking a paid position with the CBL Program. 

Many volunteer opportunities are available through C.A.U.S.E.-Creating Awareness and Unity for Social Equity. CAUSE is Mt. Holyoke's umbrella community service organization. Through partnerships with community organizations, awareness raising events and volunteer projects, CAUSE connects the MHC student body with community service opportunities throughout the Pioneer Valley including Holyoke, Springfield and South Hadley.

CBL courses are also an invaluable way to achieve these aims. The CBL Program also co-sponsors Five College Holyoke Bound and Springfield Bound trainings each year, as well as opportunities to interact with area non-profit organizations through CBL-sponsored workshops and panel discussions, and other co-sponsored programs.