Community and Governmental Relations Reinventing Opportunities to Serve, Engage

Whether you’re interested in meeting Pitt’s Oakland neighbors at a block party or volunteering for the annual Day of Caring, the Office of Community and Governmental Relations offers a wide range of activities to get involved. Working across the University and within the region, CGR aims to empower students, faculty and staff to make an impact.

Pitt in Action

Community activities are part of a mission called Pitt in Action that mobilizes faculty and staff to connect with the community. The mission represents an institutional focus on service and giving back to communities.

Visit to learn more about events and register.

“We want to encourage people to take action,” said Jamie Ducar, director of community engagement at CGR. “People have things they really care about or give money to. We want to empower and amplify that and help people explore different pathways to service.”

Pick your own Day of Caring project

This year’s Day of Caring takes place on Friday, Oct. 18. It’s an opportunity for faculty and staff to volunteer in community service projects in nearby neighborhoods like the Hill District, Point Breeze and Lawrenceville. 

The annual service opportunity for faculty and staff is part of Pitt’s United Way Campaign. In previous years, participants were assigned to projects; this year they will be able to select projects at the point of registration. Departments and organizations will also be able to register full teams.

CGR will provide T-shirts, transportation to and from work sites, all necessary tools and lunch. This year’s registration window will be tightened to three weeks and spots fill quickly. Details on registration will be coming soon and available in @Pitt and MyPitt announcements and on CGR's website.

Get to know a neighborhood block 

While previously positioned primarily as student-facing events, Ducar encourages Pitt faculty and staff to attend the September Be a Good Neighbor Block Parties. These events take place all around Oakland and are great opportunities to enjoy free food and games.

A partnership with Oakland Planning and Development Corporation enables participants to be proactive with a cleaning and greening program, Oakland Adopt-a-Block, in part sponsored by CGR. Faculty and staff should contact CGR to express interest in adopting an area block. These events can serve as team-building activities that make real impacts on the community, said Ducar.

Moving produce to people

For several years, CGR has run monthly volunteer events at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “It’s an ongoing opportunity to get people a little more engaged and thinking about our culture of service,” said Ducar.

Additionally, September is designated Hunger Action Month and CGR is soliciting donations to support two Oakland food pantries: the Pitt Pantry and the Oakland Community Human Services Food pantry. Visit the campaign’s Crowdrise page for more information about how to donate in-person or online.

Reinventing a greater sense of University belonging

Ultimately, Ducar hopes to put together working groups, inviting University staff who have roles that relate to community engagement to come together to share needs and resources.

She compared the effort to “Pathways for Civic Growth: Implementing a Model of Civic Mentoring,” which received a Personalized Education Grant. Led by Linda DeAngelo, associate professor of higher education in the School of Education, and Lina Dostilio, associate vice chancellor for community engagement in CGR, the project aims to create better access for students to explore civic engagement opportunities at Pitt and build a portfolio of experiences that are meaningful to them throughout their educational careers.

“We’re looking to tie student civic engagement with a greater sense of belonging to the University, a greater sense of feeling like their higher purpose is being met,” said Ducar. “I’d love to see something similar for faculty and staff.”