New program offers major community engagement opportunity

Posted: August 27, 2015

Penn State's new Scholarship, Sustainability and Civic Engagement Program (SSCEP) is seeking undergraduate students interested in an in-depth, immersive experience working with community development practitioners in a Pennsylvania community. Applications are due September 18.

Looking for an opportunity to test drive your interest in community development and gain hands on work experience? Would you like the opportunity to work with and learn from community development professionals? If so, make sure to check out Penn State’s new Scholarship, Sustainability and Civic Engagement Program (SSCEP).

SSCEP is a 7-credit immersive program for undergraduate students, which combines academics with professional experience in community development and civic engagement. SSCEP spans spring, summer, and fall semesters, 2016. During the summer internship, students get the unique chance to apply classroom concepts through an active project in a host community, tackling real problems facing these Pennsylvania communities. Host communities and potential projects for 2016 include:

• Huntingdon (economic development in several small boroughs; address affordable housing issues) • Lock Haven (bolster infrastructure for recreation & tourism; work to strengthen local recreational businesses; expand economic development potential of the local Rails-to-Trails network; or address affordable housing issues) • McKees Rocks (develop youth leadership programs; address critical local food access issues resulting from recent closing of the main local grocery store; outreach to better engage young residents) • New Castle (develop strategies for downtown development through renovating old buildings; work to rejuvenate the city’s river walk; conduct a market assessment for local foods and/or development of distribution channels) • Philadelphia (develop approaches to increase availability of local foods; community development at the neighborhood level; help strengthen collaborations between partnering organizations)

The specific project(s) in each community will be finalized depending upon each student’s skills and interests, and the community need. Unlike a traditional internship, the projects are designed to provide students experience working collaboratively with multiple local organizations (rather than being housed in and focused on just one organization), and playing active leadership roles in the project(s). During the summer students will communicate regularly with their fellow students in the other SSCEP communities, learning from each other’s experiences.

We’re offering five $2,500 stipends to students participating in the upcoming pilot year of the program. These stipends are competitive, and will be awarded to students based upon their interest in the SSCEP program, their experience and skills, and completed coursework, as expressed in their application materials.

Applications to participate in SSCEP are due Friday, September 18th, 2015 at 5 pm. The application and more information about the program can be found on the SSCEP website at

If you have questions about SSCEP, please contact Tim Kelsey, Professor of Agricultural Economics (

Submitted by Tim Kelsey (