Honors College Connects
Creating a Brighter Future for Our Community
Honors College Connects arranges partnerships between students and local organizations in need.
This program cultivates leadership, research, and professionalism in Honors College students through a partnership with Leadership Fairfax and local non-profit organizations.
Throughout the year, students from diverse disciplines and interests work as a team to organize a plan and produce a product, service, or solution that serves the community.
Collaborative Project Portfolio
Serving Our Community
The Honors College's work with the local community, matching their needs with student interests, has produced a deep relationship that has a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of residents every year.
Our collaboration with Women Giving Back, which provides clothing to women and children in need, grew out of an Honors College Connects project originally conducted through service to HomeAid Northern Virginia.
In 2012, Christy Eaton, HomeAid's executive director, asked a team of Honors College students to improve their nonprofit's outreach to the community. She suggested that some students and their Leadership Fairfax advisor, Melson Martis, visit WGB store to become better informed about the program and the positive impact it had on its clients' lives. The students, who volunteered to work in the warehouse, shared their experience with their classmates. The following year, the entire Honors College freshman class volunteered during June orientation.
The WGB-Honors College relationship has quickly grown to a level we never imagined. Now, WGB is a stand-alone nonprofit that serves the community in substantive ways, and our participation has grown with it:
- The Mason Nation 9/11 Day of Service now includes a clothing drive.
- About 100 Mason community members volunteer at WGB every January for the Martin Luther King Day of Service
- Up to 500 incoming Honors College freshman serve at the WGB site in Sterling, Virginia, each June as part of their three-day orientation.
Solving Problems Through Community Partnerships
The Northern Virginia Mental Health Foundation, which helps people with mental illness reach the services they need, asked the Honors College to create a sustainable fundraising plan, as nonprofits often struggle with maintaining consistent funding.
A team of students from multiple academic disciplines, including community health, economics, government, and neuroscience, researched fundraising strategies and produced a comprehensive 3-year fundraising plan, which included potential donors and other partnerships the foundation could pursue.
Bringing Insight From the Classroom to the Community
Computer CORE, a nonprofit that offers computer literacy skills training as part of a workforce development curriculum, asked the Honors College to help identify employment opportunities for its clients.
Our student team produced a detailed report on employment trends in three regional market segments, and developed a plan to help Computer CORE clients find work when their training was complete.
This project refined Computer CORE's services by clarifying the needs of employers, preparing clients for real-world demands and success in the job market.
Past projects include:
- "The Faces of the Arts in Fairfax: Social Media and Crowd Sourced Video Campaign" for the Arts Council of Fairfax County
- "Employment Opportunities, Trends, and Pathways for Success 2016-2019" for Computer CORE
- "Good Shepherd Housing Video" for Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services
- "Planning to Make Money When Money Matters" for Northern Virginia Mental Health Foundation
“I want to emphasize to you the importance of this team and this project to the (Northern Virginia Mental Health) Foundation. We were so impressed with their dedication and output that it has affected the Board in a very positive way. At the same time the students were working on a Fund Raising Plan, we were working on a Marketing Plan and now we are ready to put those together at our next meeting. None of this would have been possible without the engagement of this team. Seldom have I ever worked with a team that has accomplished more than they have.”
— Peter Clark, President, Northern Virginia Mental Health Foundation