Who We Are
At Dwight Hall, we believe in change. We believe that change is possible and worth fighting for. And in these uncertain times, we believe change has never been more important. That is why we do everything we can to make social change a reality, and why we are dedicated to shaping those who will one day shape the world.
Founded by undergraduates in 1886, Dwight Hall at Yale is an independent, social-profit organization whose mission is to nurture and inspire students as leaders of social change and to advance justice and service in New Haven and around the world. As the Center for Public Service and Social Justice, Dwight Hall’s values include a commitment to the common good, compassion, diversity, growth and learning, partnership, critical reflection, and student initiative.
What We Do
Thousands of Yale volunteers are trained to bring a community-centered approach to their service through 85 student-run member groups and more than 100 individual fellowship and experiential learning opportunities that engage approximately two thirds of the student body each year in service and social justice activities, and promote community-based learning, innovative programming, best practices, and collaborative communication.
Program delivery is organized around three principles.
Engage: Forging trusted partnerships with New Haven neighborhoods, organizations, and agencies through community engaged service.
Grow: Developing students’ intellectual, moral, civic, and creative capacities to the fullest with experiential learning, internships, fellowships, mentorships, and trainings.
Advance: Supporting intergenerational community-building collaborative projects, and incubating innovative solutions that bring about lasting change in the New Haven community and around the world.
Dwight Hall students contribute more than 150,000 hours of direct service and advocacy each year. Each $1 spent by Dwight Hall generates $3.72 worth of volunteer service and activism.1
DWIGHT HALL. CHANGE HAPPENS HERE.
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
2000s – Innovation in programming such as the Socially Responsible Investment Fund
Mission and Values
“To nurture and inspire students as leaders of social change and to advance justice and service in New Haven and around the world.”
Core Values and Beliefs
Commitment to the Common Good
We believe in the importance of using one’s resources and skills in striving together for a just society.
We are committed to meeting the needs of our community, the world, and one another in a manner that is fair, preserves dignity, and respects our shared humanity.
We call forth and honor the diverse and equally-valued perspectives of all our constituencies.
Growth and Learning
We believe in the transformative power of service, social justice, and social action for all who engage in them. We have a responsibility to create a safe space for innovation, dialogue, experimentation, self-evaluation, and authenticity as we join in real-world service and action.
We nurture a spirit of collaboration among students, staff, volunteers, and the rest of the Yale and New Haven communities, while maintaining our historic independence, to create the greatest impact for those we serve.
We recognize that action must be informed by and balanced with deep reflection from experience in order for growth and profound learning to take place.
Students at the Core
We are committed to the full engagement of students in informed leadership and decision-making as a growth and learning experience.