Ware Institute for Civic Engagement

Explore what it means to be a thoughtful and active member of a community. F&M’s Ware Institute for Civic Engagement connects F&M students with opportunities to learn, serve, and work in the surrounding Lancaster community.

A Deeper Sense of Meaning and Purpose

We are proud of our unbreakable ties with the Lancaster community and offer our students a variety of opportunities to engage with this vibrant city. The Ware Institute partners with 100+ community benefit organizations, government agencies, and schools to create meaningful off-campus opportunities for students, staff, and faculty. 

At F&M’s Ware Institute for Civic Engagement, we connect you with these local organizations and inspiring community leaders so you can engage in meaningful and purposeful activities. By working directly with local leaders to address community challenges, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of societal issues and make a positive impact on Lancaster while also gaining important skills. 


Community Service

You can show your care for your Lancaster neighbors and contribute to local efforts. F&M faculty, staff, and students often join together to plant trees, serve at local food banks, maintain nearby nature trails, and do other tasks that make a difference.

Service Saturdays

Service Saturdays are pre-arranged opportunities for you to spend time learning about different needs, issues, and interests that matter to the local community. Past Service Saturdays found F&M students volunteering by harvesting potatoes and peppers at Wittel Farms, cleaning up the Lancaster Conservancy, and planting trees with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Alternative Breaks

The Ware Institute’s Alternative Breaks offer you the opportunity to spend your fall or spring breaks learning, serving, and reflecting. Past Alternative Breaks have brought F&M students to Richmond, Va.; Washington, D.C.; and Paradise, Ca. in partnership with the F&M Catastrophic Relief Alliance students.

Squash Aces Mentoring

Squash Aces Mentoring partners with the neighboring School District of Lancaster to pair an F&M student with a middle school or high school student. As an F&M student, you support your mentee’s academic progress and facilitate group bonding activities both on and off campus. If you’re a member of either the F&M men’s or women’s Diplomat squash team, you can bring your mentoring on the court and coach your mentee in the sport you love.

Young Engaged Student (YES) Guides

As a middle- or elementary-age student, your first visit to a college campus and interactions with a college student can have a huge impact. By volunteering as a YES Guide, you’ll play an integral role in fostering a college-going culture among this younger audience.

Public Service Summer Institute (PSSI)

The Public Service Summer Institute (PSSI) connects 12-15 rising F&M juniors and seniors with a paid eight-week opportunity to work at a local nonprofit or government organization. Once a week, the PSSI students come together to embark on a hands-on exploration of a broader local community issue while meeting a variety of local stakeholders and experts along the way.

The Public Service Summer Institute began in 1994 in response to an institutional belief that a true liberal arts education includes making meaningful contributions to the community. The program has evolved from focusing predominantly on the internship experience to one that places equal value on the learning and personal development that happens through the combination of both the collective cohort experience and the individual internships. Students are paid by the College for the eight-week program (housing is not included).

F&M Works in Lancaster

F&M Works in Lancaster is a selective program designed for students to explore their understanding of personal and social responsibility. Selected students contribute to the community by working as an intern at a local nonprofit organization, and engage in meaningful discussions with a cohort of like-minded students about values, belonging, community and leadership, all within the context of exploring the common good. Students participating in F&M Works in Lancaster are paid by the College.

Community-Based Learning

Community-based learning (CBL) links traditional classroom learning to real, hands-on experiences and learning in the larger community. CBL differs from voluntarism because students are prompted to intentionally reflect on their experiences and link their hands-on experience with their course’s readings and lectures. These activities provide students with experiences to test theories and ideas they learn in their course lectures and assignments. The Ware Institute frequently partners with F&M faculty to design a CBL course and find appropriate placements in the community for students.

Become a Community Partner

We value our partnerships with local nonprofit and government organizations. Discover how you can work with us to connect with F&M students.

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