The Dartmouth Partners in Community Service (DPCS) Program places Dartmouth College students as full-time semester-long volunteers in America's schools, environmental protection agencies, homeless shelters, multi-service agencies and child welfare agencies. The organizations with which volunteers are placed are usually extremely understaffed. Participating organizations utilize the students' individual skills in areas including Internet technology, camp counseling/coaching, languages or environmental sciences. The students are provided with opportunities which foster an appreciation of public service involvement that inform their career and civic life choices after they graduate from college. A number of DPCS volunteers have gone on to take jobs in the nonprofit or education field after graduation.
DPCS was established in 1995 with the mission to inspire Dartmouth students to join with Dartmouth alums and their families in addressing problems facing the society. The program model matches the student volunteers with Dartmouth alum mentors who are active in the communities where the volunteers are serving. The alum recommends the community service organizations, schools and hospitals in their hometowns that offer volunteer opportunities to students. In this way, volunteers of different generations, skills and connections are mobilized on multiple levels. The alum fundraises to cover all program expenses.
Students receive orientation on campus before departing and upon their return they are debriefed in groups and individual counseling sessions. The students actively participate in the education of their fellow students after they return to campus. Former DPCS volunteers conduct presentations on campus and at alum events on their experiences and learning and they recruit other students into the program.
The lessons students learn through these volunteer experiences are intense and life changing. At placements such as East Harlem School at Exodus House, the teachings are about urban schools, life and communities as well as the volunteers' own personal strengths and skills. A former intern wrote upon her return from her East Harlem placement about the playground across the street from the school with a sign reading, "No adults unless accompanied by a child." She shared, "I thought it was endearing until I realized it was posted in order to deter drug dealers." On discussing the school custom of students walking through the East Harlem neighborhood each morning before beginning school each day, she observed, "The gleam in the student's eyes was reflected in the eyes of the community as it proudly watched the children pass by."