Office of Civic Engagement

Giving Back Home

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We want our students to feel connected to the Chico State community while still continuing to make civic contributions in their home community. We know that much of what students learn about being civically engaged while they are in college can shape how they interact with other communities where they live. This program is an effort to create a support system for students who want to contribute to the vitality of their home community while they are attending Chico State. 

What is a Civic Contribution?

A common understanding of civic duties involves voting and serving on jury duty, but engagement in civic life is much broader than that. Civic engagement in your community can also mean volunteering your time to help others, organizing and producing meaningful social change, and mobilizing people in your community toward an important mission or cause. Community service doesn't just look like picking up garbage, donating old clothes, or serving meals at a soup kitchen. It can mean participating in community-wide initiatives, lending your perspective or expertise on a committee, or raising awareness about helpful programs or services. A civic contribution means using your time, skills, and assets to help improve the community.

Examples of Civic Contributions “Back Home” 

In 2020, we saw Chico State students participating in voter registration and census outreach on campus, and then continuing those efforts in their home communities. During the first year of COVID, many students remained in their home communities during virtual learning and contributed to pandemic response efforts, like blood drives and voter outreach. Some Chico State students have returned to their high schools to share advice and resources about going to college. Other examples of Chico State students “giving back” in their local community include these efforts: Corning Mural, Celebrate Teaching, Town Hall 2.0Sharing the College Experience.

Benefits of Giving Back Home

  • A structured connection between the university and students’ home community may improve retention by creating a stronger network of support and connection for students. 
  • Students develop skills for self-initiated civic engagement that are useful as they graduate and move into new communities. 
  • For students from North State communities, in particular, this type of structured support may increase the chances that they will choose to move back home after college and use their education to contribute to the vitality of the region.  
  • The university deepens their partnership networks with communities.

Program Requirements

A student who participates in this program is expected to complete 1 of the CAVE Community Engagement workshops and complete a civic contribution (as defined below) in their home community. Time commitment varies by type of civic contribution, but is approximately 10 hours. Following the activity, the student will submit a written or video reflection to the Office of Civic Engagement. The student will receive a letter and certificate of completion from the Office of Civic Engagement. Each activity will be included in Collaboratory(opens in new window). 2022 participants: Gabriela(opens in new window), Roxzel(opens in new window), and Yarely(opens in new window). 

Because this type of community engagement is so individualized to a student and a community, we offer some suggestions that are likely to be available in many communities, and instructions for how to get connected. However, there may be opportunities unique to a community that might be a better option. Students will be asked to indicate personalized options on the application form.

Student Requirements:

  • Attend 1 of the CAVE Community Engagement workshops (see below)
    • Click on each title below to RSVP through CatsConnect.
    • If you are not able to attend in person, video recordings of the presentations are available here
  • Participate in approximately 10-15 hours of (virtual or in-person) activities for your home community
  • Submit a (written or video) reflection documenting your experience to
    • Answer the questions: What did you do? Why did you choose it? What did you learn from it? How did it impact how you feel about your community? How did it impact the way you think about civic responsibility? Also, describe two things you learned from the CAVE workshops you attended.

How to Choose an Opportunity

  • Personal Connections or Passions: What do you know is happening in your home community that you’d like to be a part of? What kind of community engagement are your friends or family members doing that you would like to join? How do you think you could make your community better?
  • Ask Around: Call City Hall to ask about what municipal committees need members or community input. Email the library or museum to see if they need volunteers. Call up the Rotary Club and see what activities they have.
  • Liability or other barriers: Determine if there are any liability issues or other factors to consider when deciding what type of civic contribution is right for you. If it involves working with children, there will likely be some form of background check required. There might also be public health precautions.

Below is a list of community-centric organizations that are typical in most communities:

Municipal commissions or committees (e.g. Juvenile Justice Commission, Recreation Committee)

Basic needs programs such as food pantries, shelters, or health centers

Local service clubs (e.g. Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.)

Tribal organizations

Cultural organizations



Chamber of Commerce

Faith-based organizations (e.g. churches, mosques, or schools)

Non-profit community-serving organizations

CAVE Community Engagement Workshops

Click on each title to RSVP through Wildcat Sync.

DayDateTimeBMU RoomTitlePresenters
1Wednesday3/14-5:30 pmThe Well

Putting Your Mask on First; Self-Care Practices, Well-being, and How the Well Can Help

Gemma Rice and David Estrada, The Well
2Tuesday3/214-5:30 pm203Voting, Voice, and Staying Inspired-Doing Civic and Community Engagement in Today's WorldAmy Magnus, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice Faculty Fellow of Civic Engagement
3Wednesday3/2911 am-12:30 pm309Putting the BASIC in Basic NeedsLeah Slem, Basic Needs Manager 
4Thursday4/611 am-12:30 pm309Understanding Power and Privilege in ServiceMolly Heck, MSW, School of Social Work 
5Wednesday4/124-5:30 pm203Mind-Body-Nature WorkshopBlake Ellis, Ecotherapy Manager
6Tuesday4/184-5:30 pm203It All Starts at HomeSeana O'Shaughnessy, President/CEO, Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) and Nicole Drummond, Executive Director, Chico Housing Action Team (CHAT)
7Wednesday4/2611 am-12:30 pm203Being a Passionate Leader in Your CommunityKaylee McAllister-Knutson, Senior Coordinator, Student Organizations & Leadership Education (SOLE)
8Tuesday5/211 am-12:30 pm309Using Art Therapy to Build ResilienceJess Mercer, Trauma-Informed Art Educator
If you are not able to attend CAVE workshops in person, these videos of previous presentations can be substituted.