Dwight Hall at Yale

Center for Public Service and Social Justice

History

History

Founded by undergraduates in 1886 as the Yale University Christian Association to serve the destitute through missionary work, Dwight Hall was incorporated 12 years later as an independent, non-profit educational and religious organization.  Although we often work in close cooperation with Yale, our autonomy in governance, finance, and legal status is not determined by university administration.  To our knowledge, Dwight Hall at Yale remains the only university-affiliated service organization independent from its host school and still recognized as the central hub for service.

The history of Dwight Hall reflects a creative process through which each generation has responded to the most pressing needs of different communities at the time.  Examples include:

1890s – Foreign Missions Committee is formed (later renamed Yale-China Association)

1900s – Yale Hope Mission founded to reach out to homeless and alcoholic men

1930s – Drop-in centers are created for the hungry

1940s – Assist to bring survivors of WWII to Yale as students

1950s – Organize a series of lectures titled Crises in Modern America featuring Martin Luther King, Jr., Brooks Hays, Henry Ford II, and Walter Reuther

1960s – Ideological expansion of Dwight Hall welcomes socially minded activists of any faith or non-faith

1970s – Dwight Hall becomes the home for May Day Strikes

1980s – Dwight Hall participates in the forming of Campus Compact

1990s – Creation of the Student Executive Committee and Urban Fellows

2000s – Innovation in programming such as the Socially Responsible Investment Fund