Programs of the Swearer Center
About the Swearer Center
In 1986, Brown President Howard Swearer was at the forefront of a revolution in higher education when he founded one of the first public service centers in the nation, now named for him — the Swearer Center for Public Service. President Swearer had the foresight to locate the new center within the Dean of the College’s office — at the heart of the undergraduate curriculum. He strongly believed, as President Christina Paxson does today, that public service and experiential learning are essential components of Brown’s educational mission.
Today, the Howard R. Swearer Center works with more than 1,200 Brown students, through and with 100+ community partners -- more than half of which are in the Greater Providence area. In our 30-year history, we have developed and nurtured many deep — and deeply rewarding — relationships with individuals and organizations in Providence that continue to inspire us and our work. We connect students, faculty and community partners through community engagement, engaged scholarship and social innovation -- three key perspectives that are the foundations of our work.
Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring (BEAM) provides after-school enrichment programming at William D'Abate Elementary School in inner-city Providence. Nearly 100 volunteers create and implement unique lesson plans each week to teach a variety of subjects to K-5 students.
More than 500 Brown University students participate in Community Corps, leading after-school enrichment programs, connecting health resources to patients, working with adult learners, providing one-on-one tutoring, assisting classroom teachers, supporting and advocating for people who are homeless, and and engaging in other ways. Strong, long-term relationships between the Swearer Center, Brown University students, and community partner organizations are an essential component of this program.
The Engaged Scholars Program (ESP) enables students who are passionate about communities and the challenges they face to design courses of study and action as part of their concentration requirements. Through guided coursework, advising and hands-on experience working with community partners, students in ESP are able to contextualize abstract theories, challenge assumptions and develop skills that prepare them for lives of effective action. Students who complete the program receive an academic transcript notation as Engaged Scholars.
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is a student-led group that is part of Community Corps, a program of the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. ESOL partners with the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative (RIFLI) to address the marginalizing effects of language barriers by providing English language and literacy classes to adult immigrants in the Providence community. Our members teach and facilitate English classes at William D'Abate Elementary School in the Olneyville neighborhood or at the MET School in the South-side of Providence.
OLEEP, the Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Education Program, is a partnership between the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (the Met) and Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service. We work with high school students to develop leadership skills as well as environmental science and justice knowledge, with a specific emphasis on building a supportive, collaborative community where Brown and Met students can learn and grow together. We believe, with the right support, everyone can be a leader and bringing about an environmentally just world depends on it.
Partnership for Adult Learning (PAL) is a student-led group that is part of Community Corps, a program of the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. PAL partners with Perspectives Corporation, a local community organization that provides services and support to children, youth, and adults throughout the state of Rhode Island with the goal of helping people with disabilities participate in and contribute to community life. PAL pairs student tutors from Brown University with adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities living in the greater Providence community to meet on a weekly basis. Our mission is to provide an opportunity for mutual growth through personal relationships that are formed around the shared pursuit of continuing education. PAL practices a learner-centered focus in that we encourage learners to choose the topic(s) on which they will collaborate with their tutors throughout the semester.
SHAPE is a program of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) in partnership with the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University that teaches a facilitation-based comprehensive sexual health curriculum at local Providence high schools. SHAPE strives to create an environment in which high school students can engage in accurate, authentic, and honest conversations about sexuality and sexual health. Through SHAPE, Brown volunteers facilitate workshops where students can learn about and discuss topics related to sexual health and sexuality in an open setting.
STEMS is a math and science tutoring program at Hope High School. Tutors assigned to a teacher's class either help students twice a week in the classroom or host after school drop-in tutoring once a week with a group of other tutors. STEMS aims to offer extra help to teachers, provide academic support and mentorship for students, and encourage greater self-efficacy for students in STEM fields.
The College Advising Corps SAT Prep Program is a free program run through the College Advising Corps with Brown student volunteers, intended for junior and senior high school students from families who cannot afford the expense of paid tutoring options. These tutoring partnerships are meant to help students build the confidence and skills to perform well on the SAT. Tutors also offer advice on navigating the college process.