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About the Community Works Campaign

Community Works is a philanthropic campaign supported by Vassar employees, students, and trustees for local non-profit organizations. Since its inception in 2001 Community Works has raised over $1 million and funded over 50 different groups in the Hudson Valley.

Community Works helps local organizations doing critical work in areas such as:

  • Mental health
  • Domestic violence
  • Environmental education and advocacy
  • Youth services
  • Arts 
  • Mediation and conflict resolution
  • Hunger
  • Homelessness
  • LGBTQ services

Vassar established Community Works to take a stand on its principles of inclusion. Until 2000 the college participated in the local United Way campaign, which among other organizations funded a local chapter of the Boy Scouts. That year the Boy Scouts of America won a U.S. Supreme Court case allowing the organization to dismiss and exclude gay scouts as members, and gay men as leaders and employees.* Because this practice violated the college’s non-discrimination policy, Vassar launched Community Works as an alternative for supporting local non-profits. (*United Way of Dutchess-Orange Region has not funded a Boy Scouts chapter for several years.)

Little did we imagine how Community Works would grow to be far more than a way to contribute money. The campaign has strengthened and enriched Vassar’s local relationships. Our yearly appeals help educate the campus about non-profits and the challenges they face. Our more direct connections with agencies have led to important new opportunities for students in the community, whether as volunteers or Field Work interns. As we know students gain an important new perspective from these experiences, recognizing that Poughkeepsie also has a lot to teach Vassar.