volunteer programs

Community Service Challenge

Challenge Cup award


Please see the Resources page for more information. This section offers more insight on this topic and can give you a more  complete list of helpful planning tips.

Q: I don’t know if my chapter or living group already has a team. Who should I contact to get involved?

Every few days, the PSC will update the list of registered teams on the service challenge home page. A contact person should be listed for each registered team. The community service chair or president of your organization should also know if a team is forming.

Q: My chapter/living group has not formed a team but I want to participate. Who can I turn to for support?

If your FSILG or dorm doesn’t have a team, then you should consider becoming a team leader. Team leaders are responsible for registering the group, motivating fellow members to participate, and updating the PSC about the team’s accomplishments. The Resources page offers helpful tips for team leaders.

Q: What can our team win?

The team that exhibits the most outstanding commitment to service will win the 2014 Service Cup and leave their legacy upon this perpetual trophy for future years. You’ll also get to keep a personalized plaque as a collector’s item.

Winning teams receive an award of $2,000 to be used to fund further group community service activities, towards group’s philanthropic interests or to promote both! While any team can apply for funding of this nature, receiving the funds would be a guarantee for the winning team. There will also be a second pace prize of $750.

You’ll win bragging rights for your Greek or living group community. The winning team will receive free winner’s publicity. All teams benefit from positive publicity. Plus, all participants are invited to a catered celebration dinner to be held on April 30.

Q: How is a winner selected for this challenge?

Each team is asked to submit a Final Report to servicechallenge@mit.edu by 5pm on April 23. This written response should provide both quantitative and qualitative information in the form of a 1-2 page report. Use this response as a means of describing your team’s service efforts. An unbiased panel of judges will review the submissions and score each team for their ability to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Encourage engagement in service with varying degrees of depth and intention.
  2. Bring their living group together around one or more common social causes.
  3. Promote best practices in volunteer services and philanthropic efforts.
  4. Reflect upon and celebrate service activities of the living group.

Q: How does my team decide which organization to partner with if we have varying service interests?

You can try to accommodate the varying interests by selecting a broad service issue. For example, a team can volunteer in many capacities at a community center and qualify the service as community development. And while teams are encouraged to unite around an issue to maximize impact, participants aren’t limited by the service theme. All service does count in this challenge.

Q: Does my team need to volunteer as a group?

No. While volunteering with a group is enjoyable, it is not necessary to organize massive service projects. In fact, many non-profit organizations will be unable to accommodate groups exceeding 10-15 people. You may decide to volunteer in small groups or as individuals – just be sure to report service contributions to the team leader.

Q: I live in a dorm of 250+ people. How are we supposed to unite in an effort to serve together?

While it is not realistic for extremely large groups to volunteer together, the service theme brings unity to the group. There should be many opportunities that fit into the selected service theme. For example, Team A chooses to focus on combating hunger. Some participants may volunteer at a food bank, while others serve lunch at one of the many soup kitchens.

As another example, Dorm B forms a large team of residents with differing service interests and various levels of commitment to the program. The group decides to team up with a local community center to allow for a vast array of service opportunities for the diverse group. The center expresses a need for tutors and “spring cleaners” so the team works in shifts to complete these tasks. Other residents decide to initiate an exercise program for the children so those individuals decide to organize games outside and serve as mentors/ coaches.

Q: How do I pick a service theme to rally my team behind?

Consider existing service partnerships that your dorm, chapter or living group already has. For instance, many FSILGs are affiliated with non-profit organizations so a chapter may select a theme that incorporates that existing service commitment. You may also choose to survey your FSILG or dorm about service interests. Please see the Resources page for more information.

Q: How do I motivate others to participate in this challenge with me?

You can start off by sending an e-mail to your FSILG or dorm to find other interested members. That group of people can help you take the lead in organizing projects and rallying more people. Beyond that, the Resources section offers more insight on this topic.

Q: As a team leader, how should I connect my group with opportunities to serve at this partnering organization?

Once a basic relationship with the volunteer coordinator at a non-profit agency is established, you should gauge the best way to connect your team with that opportunity. Because we don’t want to bombard the volunteer coordinator with phone calls, one person should handle all of the logistics for each group project. Note that it is not necessary for the team leader to do all of the work in organizing the projects – utilize the power of delegating! For projects that take individual volunteers, it should be sufficient to just refer participants to the appropriate contact person at the organization. Visit the the Resources page for a more complete list of helpful planning tips.

Q: If my team fundraises and donates the proceeds to an organization, does this count in this challenge?

Yes. All efforts to serve the community will be recognized in this challenge. This includes both service and philanthropy. Make sure to report all contributions to the team leader.

Q: My chapter/living group already has a continued relationship with service programs. How does this play a part in this challenge?

Keep up the good work! View this as an opportunity to strengthen your commitment to the service work that you are doing. The PSC wants to use this challenge to recognize your efforts.

Q: The members of my chapter/living group do a lot of individual service work. How do we recognize this in this challenge?

While the service theme is helpful for providing unity to your service efforts, all service work completed between February and April should be reported for your team. For example, if a member of your team regularly volunteers at MGH, her service in the healthcare sector will be counted towards your team’s accomplishments even if your overriding service theme is environmental issues.

Q: What can my team receive funding for?

Any MIT student can apply for material grants to facilitate local service work. Visit the Grants page for more information.

Q: Does Alternative Spring Break count toward the Service Challenge?

Yes! Groups who wish to pursue a project with ASB and are registered for the Service Challenge can work to receive funding through the Challenge to go toward any ASB trip.

Q: I am affiliated in an FSILG but I live in a dorm. What team am I on?

You can choose one team to report your service work to. Either is fine.

Q: I am a graduate student. Can I participate?

Yes. Graduate students can create a team with their living group.

Q: Can GRTs and housemasters be on a team?

Yes. GRTs and housemasters are encouraged to participate in this challenge with their dorm.

Q: Who do with more questions?

Feel free to contact servicechallenge@mit.edu or (617) 253-0742. You can also stop by the Public Service Center in room 4-104.