A first year program for students interested in making a difference in their community and reflecting with peers on what it takes to lead a committed life.

Lives of Commitment is for students wanting to get involved in the Twin Cities and build a strong community with other first years who are passionate about working for social change. The 30 students volunteer weekly in small groups teaching English to immigrants and refugees or tutoring a child at one of six nonprofit partners. Participants gather regularly for meaningful dialogue about their community work, social justice and what is most important to them over dinner from immigrant owned businesses and in smaller reflection circles.

A pre-orientation retreat starting Monday, Aug. 23 immerses students into both Minneapolis and St. Paul to help them become active and knowledgeable community members from day one. On the retreat, students visit immigrant communities and meet with community partners. Participants also spend time learning about each other’s experiences and commitments, and building a strong and supportive community for the transition to college.

Involvement includes 2-3 hours of weekly community engagement, active participation in monthly small and large group discussions and activities, and a strong motivation to explore one’s own identities, beliefs and values. The group meetings establish a space for reflection and community building. The open and welcoming nature of these spaces creates strong and lasting bonds among the participants.

This is a year-long commitment and is only open to incoming first year students. Applications will be assessed on one’s a) interest in reflecting more deeply on their own experiences; b) desire to build a supportive community of peers, and c) curiosity to know more about the local community and an eagerness to get involved.

If you have questions or want more information, please contact Paul Schadewald, Senior Program Director for Community-Based Learning and Scholarship in the Civic Engagement Center at or call 651-696-6747.