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Beyond the Infinite

Beyond the Infinite, Summer 2014

The evolution of CityDays


Cradles to Crayons in Brighton is a regular favorite CityDays service placement. Photo: Greg Kuperman

For 22 years and counting, CityDays has been an outlet for the MIT community to channel its humanitarian spirit through service to our local community.

The CityDays program began in 1992, originally as a series of days for Cambridge Public School children to come to MIT to engage in sports, crafts, and education. CityDays then evolved into a one-day community service event held annually during Orientation, through which hundreds of new and returning MIT students would volunteer at nonprofit community organizations in the greater Boston and Cambridge area.

With the shortening of Orientation in 2012, CityDays evolved again from a once-a-year event to a series of community service days throughout the year. Since then the PKG Center has hosted a series of CityDay events, including CityDay: IAP in January and CityDay: Patriots' Day in April.

With this new model of CityDay events throughout the year, the PKG Center is able to engage a more diverse cross-section of the MIT community than just freshmen and other undergraduates.

"CityDays used to target freshmen primarily, but these new CityDay events are open to the entire MIT community and take place at multiple points throughout the academic year," says Kelsey Boivin, community engagement administrator at the PKG Center. "This year we've had participation from undergraduate and graduate students, staff, retirees, and spouses and partners."

At this year's CityDay events, MIT community members served at various local community organizations, including the Cambridge Citywide Senior Center, CASPAR, Cradles to Crayons, East End House, and the Greater Boston Food Bank. Graduate students also comprise over 20 percent of participants, marking a significant increase from past community service events hosted by the PKG Center.

This summer the PKG Center will host a CityDay event specifically for MIT staff, and during the 2014-2015 academic year, there will be five events for the entire MIT community.

"Through these CityDay events, undergraduates, graduate students, and staff go out together to serve our local community," says Boivin. "Those that have participated say it's been great to meet and connect with others around MIT while making a difference in our local community."

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