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Encouraging Community Development

Civic Connections

Smith’s president and senior staff members meet regularly with the Northampton mayor and other city officials to discuss issues and opportunities of mutual interest. The president’s annual college-community breakfast invites some 50 civic, cultural and religious leaders in Northampton to campus for updates on Smith’s key projects and initiatives.

Affordable Housing

Smith established a $3 million Affordable Housing Replacement Fund to construct 26 apartments at 36 Bedford Terrace and an adjacent new apartment building. Completed in spring 2007, these units replaced the 26 Smith-owned units, in the area of Belmont and Arnold Avenues, that had been removed for the college’s engineering and science building. Subsidies for construction of these units, combined with the value of the property, represent a $3.285 million commitment from the college to affordable housing. Subsequently, working with the Valley Community Development Corporation, the college provided $220,000 to subsidize the development of four new apartments at 46–48 School Street and $550,000 to subsidize the development of eight new apartments at 96–98 King Street.

Community Service

The Community Service Office engages Smith students and members of the Smith community in a variety of community service and social action projects, educational workshops and placements. The office encourages students to pursue meaningful community service work and leadership training that enhance the educational experience, meet community-identified needs and model the development of effective community partnerships with local nonprofit organizations. Students involved in community service work with diverse groups and often develop a lifelong commitment to community engagement.

CSO is part of the Center for Community Collaboration (CCC), which also provides support for community service learning courses, community-based participatory research and outreach projects.

Students work in long-term weekly placements, and participate in short-term community-based projects as well as a leadership training program. Key partner agencies are the Friends of the Homeless, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Kids to Campus Program, the Kensington School Refugee Tutor/Mentor Program and the Homework House Tutoring Program.

Phoebe Reese Lewis January Leadership Initiative

Students in this program provided consultation and analysis to Smith or local organizations, as part of a two-year leadership course. In the second year of the program, students form a strategic development plan using their skills in writing, reflection and presentation. This year students worked with the MacLeish Field Station on organization, development and technology for Smith outdoor education, and low-impact recreation. The center provides women with the skills and knowledge necessary to address financial issues that may arise in their personal, professional, family and community lives. Previously, students in the leadership program have worked with the Center for Women and Financial Independence, Smith College Global Studies Center, Spectrum in Motion, the Literacy Project, Interfaith Cot Shelter, Academy of Music, Friends of Children, Mass Bike, the Northampton Center for the Arts and the MANNA soup kitchen.

Employee Service

The college grants employees a paid workday each year to engage in community service, allowing them to take a regular workday to volunteer in a community activity or event in Northampton or the city or town in which they live. Many Smith employees are already actively engaged in ongoing community service work, serving on boards and performing direct service work for local nonprofits.

Off-Campus Work-Study

Some 74 Smith students worked at 28 nonprofit institutions in the Pioneer Valley in 2014–15, including MA Audobon Society at Arcadia, the Northampton Survival Center and the Northampton Arts Council. The college spent more than $85,000 to fulfill its commitment to pay 75 percent of the students’ salaries. In addition, 93 Smith students worked as reading tutors at 11 elementary schools and agencies as part of the America Reads challenge. Smith pays 100 percent of their earnings, at a cost of approximately $56,000.


Smith contributes expertise to the Northampton Conservation Commission and the Northampton Board of Public Works, the Academy of Music, the Affordable Housing Trust and Housing Partnership, the Community Preservation Committee, and the Transportation and Parking Commission. Grounds consultation is provided to area schools and colleges for athletic fields and turf areas.

Historic Preservation

Smith is regularly recognized by the Northampton Historic Commission.

Campus Police

The Campus Police provide protection and services to the college community, its visitors and guests. The officers are sworn special state police officers and are trained professionals with police powers on campus property. Campus police often work with other agencies, particularly the Northampton Police Department and the Hampshire County District Attorney’s Office. The department coordinates with the Northampton Fire Department for emergency ambulance service and participates on behalf of the college in the city’s emergency management team. The college provides overtime employment at time-and-a-half pay for a significant number of Northampton police officers, particularly during commencement and reunion weekends when, for example, approximately $5,800 is paid for the services of more than two dozen city police officers for traffic control.


Since 2007 Smith has partnered with Zipcar, North America’s largest car-sharing service, to offer the Smith community and local residents a cost-effective alternative to car ownership. Smith has six Zipcars; the company estimates that each Zipcar eliminates the need for more than 20 privately owned vehicles.