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Union students are extremely proactive about seeking volunteer opportunities as well as suggesting ideas for new programs. All programs have a student leader that manages the day-to-day logistics and recruits volunteers. In many cases, the programs are so successful there is a waiting list for community members.

America Reads

America Reads provides mentoring, reading and rebuilding skills for Schenectady youth.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters

More than one hundred Union College students volunteer each year in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

Camp Erin

This camp is for young children who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Volunteers work with the Schenectady Hospice to host the camp for a weekend.

Campus Kitchen

The Campus Kitchen at Union College is one of the student-led affiliate branches of the Campus Kitchens Project. Student volunteers are needed to help deliver excess food from the College's dining hall to the City Mission of Schenectady.


Volunteers work closely with the Schenectady youth center to mentor youth; help with homework; hang out or box once a week.

COCOA House (Children of Our Community Open to Achievement)

Founded by a Union alumna, COCOA House serves the Hamilton Hill and Vale neighborhoods. Union College students serve as tutors and mentors.

Empty Bowls

This community event raises awareness and funds for local food programs. With the help of a ceramics professor, Union students have made hundreds of bowls, some made jointly with local Schenectady students.

Habitat for Humanity

Students have formed a club to support Habitat for Humanity, where volunteers build homes in the Schenectady community. The club recently did a service trip during spring break and is committed to hosting more trips like this one during future breaks.

Junior Science Program

Junior Science Program is a hands-on science and math program that introduces girls and boys and in grades 4-6 to the wonders of science and technology. Volunteers help participants conduct small science experiments and learn about various types of technology.

Homework and Skills Development Program

The Homework Center and Skills Development Program links Union student mentors with children from three different elementary schools to help them complete their homework successfully. The group also works on math fact drills, reading and computer activities.

Obenzinger Scholars

The Obenzinger scholars organize healthcare workshops at the Kenney Community Center that include diabetes screenings, stress management tips and more. Ellis Hospital periodically provides services to help with the wellness workshops. They also set up food drives for the homeless, the hungry and for soldiers stationed overseas.

SAIL Program

Third and fourth graders from Elmer Avenue School and Martin Luther King School benefit from the Kenney Community Center's Studying Arithmetic in Literature (SAIL) Program. This math-in-literature program's strives to improve students' grades on their fourth grade NYS math tests through tutorials that help students to improve their understanding of math word problems by strengthening their reading ability. All tutors are provided with training and reap the benefits of bringing young students closer to their goal of being better readers and improving their math scores.

STEP (Science and Technology Entry Program)

Information about this program may be found on this page.


U-ReBloom is the idea of Mrs. Judith Ainlay. Students and staff volunteer together to recycle potted plants and other living arrangements from the college and give them to local nursing homes, senior residencies, and rehabilitation centers. The Union College community visits several communities a month to bring smiles, conversation, and plants.

UCARE (Union Community Action Reaching Everyone)

UCARE provides you with a link to volunteer opportunities in the community. UCARE also provides information about community organizations to assist you in identifying service opportunities that meet your interests. UCARE hosts an annual carnival in May that has become a well-attended and popular event for the community. Click here to view organizations participating in the UCARE Program.

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program

The Kenney Community Center works with the Economics Department to run the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site at Union College. Representatives of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Internal Revenue Service and the Schenectady County Department of Social Services participated in the development and implementation of the program. Student VITA volunteers work directly with low-income families to assist in filing their tax returns.