Established in 1991, FOCUS on New Haven is a week long pre-orientation program designed to introduce first and second year students to the city of New Haven. With days spent engaging with local organizations and evenings spent listening to community leaders, FOCUS on New Haven hopes all students complete the program with a deep affinity for the city of New Haven.
FOCUS participants, along with their upperclassmen leaders, are split into small group of 5-10 students and spend four consecutive days volunteering with a local organization. Working closely with these organizations, all projects undertaken meet an existing community need.
Outside of direct service, students come together with local leaders to learn more about New Haven. With local experts driving the discussions, students are able to examine what relationship they will choose to have with the city, and receive exposure to New Haven’s unique urban challenges, such as immigration, education, economic development, and town-gown relations.
Having viewed New Haven from a multitude of perspectives over the course of the program, FOCUS challenges participants to reflect on their past and future roles in their community, gaining a better sense of both the city they live in and the role they can play.
“I think by introducing FOCUS participants to different nonprofits in the area, and especially bringing them on tours of all the neighborhoods in New Haven they really get a greater sense of the community in which they live and the inspiration to keep working with it in the future.” - Marlena Vasquez, Leader