Service Learning in Somerville

Economic Recovery in Somerville, MA: the Paris of New England

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service has partnered with Tufts faculty and Somerville organizations to implement Project PERIS (Partnering for Economic Recovery Impact through Service). Through Project PERIS, Tisch College aims to develop a model for university-community partnerships that effectively responds to economic needs in Somerville. Undergraduate and Graduate students participate in service learning courses and summer fellowships.

Building off Tisch College’s ten-year track record evaluating needs, aligning assets and developing mutually beneficial partnerships between Tufts and its host communities, Project PERIS’ main goal is to create a new, dynamic service planning and delivery process that engages students, faculty and community partners.

A three year grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service allows Tisch College to refine a service planning and delivery process that:

  • Delivers needed services for economic recovery
  • Establishes an enduring crisis response capacity between Tufts and Somerville
  • Creates a model to be adapted by other institutions and communities

Project PERIS will achieve the following positive outcomes:

  • Strong and sustainable university-community partnerships
  • Improved economic vitality in the Somerville community
  • Increased civic capacities among Tufts students 

Since the fall semester of 2009, Project PERIS has supported 23 courses and 26 summer fellowships, engaging 11 faculty, 264 students, 20 community co-educators, over 60 community youth and more than 1400 community members.

Course topics have ranged from homelessness to K-12 School Reform, and from food security to urban planning. Student activities in the community have included qualitative and quantitative research, ethnographic interviews, school parent engagement and social media development.