There’s a new website to make community service at Penn just a little easier.
The Undergraduate Assembly, in collaboration with PennLabs, has been working on Pennvolvement.com — a centralized website to connect students with different volunteer opportunities.
Engineering sophomore Aren Raisinghani and College sophomore Kaylee Slusser sit on the Social Justice Committee of the UA and have spent the past year developing this web platform.
“There are a ton of opportunities, but many students, especially freshmen, don’t know what to do. Opportunities are very disconnected and all over the place,” Slusser said. “This serves as a tool that connects people with opportunities and centralizes everything”.
The closest alternative to this resource right now is G.O. Penn, a portal run by the Office of Student Affairs. “This site isn’t user-friendly, and we wanted to build something with a better interface for organizations to really get their message out there,” Raisinghani said.
Before conducting trial runs with the Netter Center and Civic House, the Pennvolvement team reached out to 50 organizations to gauge interest and is now in the process of onboarding these groups.
“Now we need organizations to sign up and post events and opportunities. They can categorize and cross-list their events so students can narrow down their search to different causes or filter them by time commitment,” Slusser said.
Currently, the site is working to match students with mostly Penn organizations as well as non-student-run Penn groups that serve West Philadelphia. However, if the site gains traction, it might expand its scope of events and organizations.
Raisinghani and Slusser hope to work with SAC to promote the use of Pennvolvement for its community service groups. They hope to tap into the wide outreach that SAC has to communicate with a broader selection of civic engagement organizations.
“People don’t tend to get involved [with community service] after freshman year, but a lot of people did service in high school and want to get involved at Penn but just don’t know how”, Slusser said. “Contacting each individual organization is time-consuming and inefficient, so this site can really help improve civic engagement.”
With winter break approaching, Slusser and Raisinghani hope that students will take the time to look for new opportunities and clubs.
“It shouldn’t be too much of a problem targeting freshmen,” Slusser said. “After first semester, a lot of people take the time to figure out what to take on, so it’s a big market for us.”