New Jersey Campus Compact and William Paterson University Launch Changebuilders Project

New Jersey Campus Compact has partnered with William Paterson University to launch the Changebuilders Project.  Under the new venture, hundreds of William Paterson University students will be capable of demonstrating excellence while engaging with and volunteering in communities, thereby enabling them to make a difference in their local communities as changebuilders.

“William Paterson University is committed to civic engagement—it is an important part of our mission,” says President Richard J. Helldobler.  “We are excited to advance this commitment through our partnership with New Jersey Campus Compact and the opportunity to host an AmeriCorps Changebuilder Coordinator, who will encourage our first-year students to engage in service learning and volunteer projects in their local communities

As a Changebuilder campus, William Paterson University will host an AmeriCorps Changebuilder Coordinator. The coordinator will serve as a liaison between New Jersey Campus Compact and the University and help create opportunities for hundreds of new college volunteers, with each student volunteering on community projects for 40 to 100 hours per year. This project will result in 10,000 to 50,000 hours of high-quality, project-focused volunteer time dedicated to the state of New Jersey through this work over the next five year, including students taking service learning, experiential philanthropy and community-based research courses; completing projects for nonprofits and local government; and working together to tackle issues of inequality.

Maria Pagan, a 2018 graduate of William Paterson with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, is the inaugural Changebuilder Coordinator. Working with the staff in the Office of Campus Activities, Service and Leadership, Pagan will create new civic engagement opportunities with the goal of identifying a dedicated group of students who will become consistently engaged, work to create their own opportunities, and encourage others to participate.

“We are very excited to be given the opportunity by New Jersey Campus Compact to work with our new AmericCorps Changebuilder Coordinator,” says Donna Minnich-Spuhler, William Paterson’s director of campus activities, service, and leadership. “Maria brings a wealth of community service and civic engagement to our students through her volunteer activities and connections to resources and agencies in Paterson. She has already begun engaging students with volunteer opportunities in our food pantry which she helps manage, assisting with voter registration activities, connecting with community partners, and assisting with student civic engagement events.

According to Dr. Saul Petersen, executive director of New Jersey Campus Compact and director of the Changebuilders Project, “It is essential that we work to make New Jersey THE engaged state and, indeed, I believe we all play a crucial role.  The more diversity in every facet of our civically engaged college graduates, the better for us all.  Successful graduates in the 21st century must be adaptable to different experiences, must be understanding of different perspectives, must be innovative, and must have grit.  These are some of the qualities that strengthen communities and nurture a thriving workplace.  ‘Engaged New Jersey’ is, therefore, the singular focus of all programming and partnerships here at New Jersey Campus Compact and represents the DNA of our new flagship initiative,   Changebuilders.”