Community Action, Learning & Leadership (CALL) Program

Students walking during the Inaugural Walk-the-Talk Peace Summit

Transformative experiences for OW students and the global communities they engage...

Located at the “most diverse college” in the SUNY-system, the  SUNY Old Westbury Community Action, Learning and Leadership (CALL) Program is recognized for its best practices in innovating learning environments.

As an award-winning, comprehensive community engagement program for first-year students at OW, its and its students' commitments to academic excellence, exploration and innovation joins with OW's historic mission of actively seeking to engage and advance social justice in communities in the world around us.

OW students in the CALL cohort collaborate in community-based engagements that emphasize the importance of experiencing teamwork, community building, confidence and trust to bridge divides across Long Island, the New York Region, nationally, globally and virtually. OW students in the cohort develop and manage their roles and responsibilities in a community-based engagement to actively and barrierlessly implement collaborations that exemplify inclusiveness. Doing so, empowers the cohort to find similarities in the different voices that are part of the conversation to engage together to shape new, innovative ways to tackle social justice issues.

By participating in and reflecting upon community-based engagements, the CALL cohort responsibly respond to challenges facing the world today and to OW’s commitment to foster “a connection between self and society, full citizenship at our University, in communities and around the world for the purpose of transforming first-year students into critical-thinking, global leaders with a commitment to academic and professional excellence, civic engagement and ethical values.” 

Since the full implementation of CALL in 2007, over 10,000 OW students engaged with community partners that address the myriad needs of underserved communities and families across Long Island, the New York Region, nationally, internationally and virtually. Representing more than 750,000 hours of community engagement over the Program’s history, this equates to an economic impact of approximately $12 million of in-kind engagement.   For nine consecutive years, the engagements of the CALL cohort, faculty and staff have earned Old Westbury a place on the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. 

how call works

CALL aligns communities of practice and community engagement with the OW’s mission to “weave values of integrity, community engagement and global citizenship into the fabric of academic programs and campus life.” This not only integrates academic study and analysis with field experience to give OW student in the CALL cohort intellectual insight into social issues while directly engaging them in social action as impactful global citizens, but it also pushes OW students in the cohort to critically evaluate and apply course-based academic concepts and theories to address authentic needs outside the classroom.

As part of a full-year First-Year Experience Program, all first-year students in CALL enroll and complete the Community Learning (CL2000) course. The course is linked to a core curriculum course, 50-semester hours of community engagement, a social justice workshop series, a deliberative dialogues series, and an end of semester CALL Colloquy. The course emphasizes the themes of self-discovery, the meaning of a liberal education, the relationship of the individual to society, and the nature of values and of personal and social responsibility. By situating the major intellectual and emotional challenges students confront within the framework of ethics and community engagement, the course encourages students in the CALL cohort to evaluate their ideas and assumptions, and the impact of their decisions on the self and into communities in the world around them. Organized around a series of ever-widening concentric circles, the course moves from a discussion of the role of ethics in individual life, in personal relationships, and in the OW community to the quest for social justice and sustainability in America and around the global through innovative community-based engagements. The course provides the cohort a forum for critical reflection on community action, learning and leadership, intercultural understanding, global citizenship, power and privilege, and the interconnections among these concepts and practices. The goal of the course is to encourage the OW students to consider multiple perspectives and to reflect upon their identities, values and aspirations as impactful global citizens innovating, assessing and implementing community-based engagements that advance social justice within the larger common good.

In collaboration with community partners and the Old Westbury faculty, the Community Action Learning and Leadership Program develops volunteer opportunities.  Student placements are determined by linked course content and objectives, as well as students’ academic and career interests, schedules and other specifications.  In addition to their normal coursework, students participate in their volunteer placements for a minimum of 50 hours during the semester.

Students are expected to reflect on their experiences in journals and evaluation papers involving research and analysis. They also consider the relationship of community-based learning and action to our University's social justice mission, the value of a liberal arts education, ethical decision-making and career development.  In addition to the experience itself, there will be pre-reflection and assessment components, including readings and assignments.  The class will meet as a group at least once a week and students will be expected to participate in mandatory workshops and campus events. 

Based upon the needs specified by the organization via a completed student request form, an application/survey completed by the student, and any supporting organization-related materials, CALL and FYE will match each student with an organization demonstrating goals and needs that parallel the curricular content covered in their four-credit general education class.

Depending on the agreement made with the organization, students may execute their volunteer responsibilities on campus, at the organization’s work-site, and/or at a location agreed upon by the organization and CALL.

our community partners

Off-Campus Partners

On-Campus Partners

  • Awareness Avenue:  Awareness Avenue provides a forum for open discussion about issues relevant to college students. Issues include: peer pressure, addiction,             mental illness, relationship and roommate problems, domestic violence and rape. Platforms for this concept include: Old Westbury Web Radio (OWWR), Old Westbury TV (OW TV) and The Catalyst.
  •  Campus C.A.R.E.S.S.: Campus C.A.R.E.S.S. provides access to health information and sex education on a personal student-to-student basis. This access to information creates a comfortable atmosphere for college students to make informed and responsible choices about their lives.
  • Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (OSSD) 
  • The Catalyst – SUNY Old Westbury Newspaper
  • OWWR – SUNY Old Westbury Radio Station