Civic Engagement

Five Points in Durham, NC (July 22, 1951). Illustration courtesy of Duke University Archives Flickr Photostream

There are a multitude of ways to get involved in the local community, including through the following opportunities and organizations:

Community-Based Language Initiative

The Community-Based Language Initiative in Duke Service-learning forms partnerships with different language groups in the Durham community in an effort to support Duke’s mission to enhance the integration of civic engagement into the undergraduate experience. Through this program, Duke faculty and students, along with Durham service agencies and their clients, work together to develop meaningful exchanges while fostering mutual understanding between students and the greater Durham community. Contact the CBLI.

Duke Office of Civic Engagement

The Duke Office of Civic Engagement offers numerous avenues for Duke students and employees to find ways to get involved in the Durham community. Their website offers interesting bits of information and links to Durham history and news. Take a look!


The DukeEngage Program provides funding for undergraduate students who wish to pursue an intensive civic engagement experience anywhere in the world. Through DukeEngage students apply what they have learned in the classroom to address societal issues at home or abroad. Program descriptions are available online, including two domestic sites with a focus on migration and human rights (Tucson, Ariz. and Miami, Fla.) and several additional programs in Latin America. "Challenge yourself. Change your world!"

Durham Public Schools (DPS)

The local Latino and Latina school-age population is growing at a tremendous rate, and many of the DPS continually seek student tutors and mentors for their daytime and after school programs. Schools such as E.K. Powe Elementary, within walking distance from campus, and others nearby count on time commitments from Duke students, faculty, and/or staff. Visit the DPS site to get in touch with these schools.

El Centro Hispano (ECH)

Located in downtown "Bull City," ECH is a grassroots community-based organization dedicated to strengthening the Latino/a community and improving the quality of life of these residents in Durham and the surrounding area. ECH supports education, community development and organizing, leadership development, and alliance formation with other communities and organizations. The Executive Director is a Duke alumni, and ECH is open to Duke student involvement.  

El Kilombo

El Kilombo is a Durham non-profit community center and bookstore focused primarily on the concerns of communities of color and issues related to globalization. El Kilombo offers free computer classes, child literacy classes, daily Internet use, and a monthly neighborhood assembly. As an entirely volunteer project, the organization is always looking for volunteers who are committed to the center's ideals and help in maintaining the community space and offered services. Shoot El Kilombo, an email.

El Pueblo, Inc.

Located in Raleigh, El Pueblo is a non-profit statewide advocacy and public policy organization dedicated to strengthening the Latino/a community. They have programs in leadership development, proactive and direct advocacy, education, and promotion of cross-cultural understanding in partnerships at the local, state, and national levels. El Pueblo also hosts the cultural festival “La Fiesta del Pueblo” each September, drawing tens of thousands of attendees and “El Foro Latino” Latino Issues Forum in the spring/summer. More here

Latino Health Project

The Latino Health Project at Duke University Hospital is responsible for planning, developing, coordinating, and evaluating cost effective and culturally sensitive programs and processes to serve the Latino/Hispanic patient population at Duke University Hospital. Please email Rebecca Reyes, Program Coordinator, for more information. 

Student Action with Farmworkers

“SAF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to bring students and farmworkers together to learn about each other’s lives, share resources and skills, improve conditions for farmworkers, and build diverse coalitions working for social change.  North Carolina ranks sixth in the nation in the number of migrant farmworkers, 94% of whom speak Spanish as their native language.”  SAF goals include “linking student groups working with farmworkers in order to share their experiences and ideas, creating internships and other projects that are mutually beneficially for students and farmworkers, and encouraging student commitment to justice and social action.” Visit the SAF to learn more and get involved.