about us

Community Impact is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located at Columbia University. Community Impact (CI) serves disadvantaged people in the Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights communities. Community Impact strives to provide high quality programs, advance the public good, and foster meaningful volunteer opportunities for students, faculty, and staff of Columbia University. CI provides food, clothing, shelter, education, job training, and companionship for residents in its surrounding communities. CI consists of a dedicated corps of about 950 Columbia University student volunteers participating in 25 community service programs, which serve more than 8,000 people each year. Community Impact has partnerships with more than 100 community organizations and agencies who do service work in the Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights communities, including service organizations, social service offices, religious institutions, and schools. Many of these organizations refer their clients to Community Impact’s programs and work collaboratively to positively influence residents’ lives.

Our History

From its earliest inception as a single service initiative formed in 1981 by Columbia University undergraduates Joe DeGenova and David Joyce, Community Impact has grown into Columbia University’s largest student service organization and a primary interface between the University and the Morningside Heights and Harlem communities.

As Community Impact integrated itself into the neighborhood’s social safety-net, students identified and responded to new community needs, expanding the number of services available to clients and working towards transforming the organization into an integrated service network with a strong education emphasis. Community Impact figures foremost in the University’s long standing pledge to support education through service. Operating under the dual status as a non-profit organization and an emissary from the University, Community Impact has forged partnerships with community leaders and agencies committed to realizing neighborhood change.

As the organization blossomed, students and staff invested in infrastructure to enhance volunteer skills, created mechanisms to improve existing programming, and developed relationships to establish a network with community leaders. In recent years, the substantial growth in the number of programs and the number of volunteers at Community Impact has outpaced its growth in staffing and funding, thereby challenging Community Impact’s ability to fully meet the needs of both its clients and its student volunteers. To resolve such challenges and create stronger support channels, Community Impact looks forward to working with the Administration and further developing its relationship with the University.