Photo of Geneva


Oh the places you'll go

A college is strongest when firmly rooted in the community it calls home, and its success is inherently connected to the well-being of that community. Geneva has been a wonderful host to the Colleges since 1822 and through numerous collaborative efforts, which seek to find a balance rooted in respect and reciprocity, we work together to infuse learning opportunities so that our graduates may go on to lead “lives of consequence.”

Since the early 1990s, HWS has strived to organize student, faculty, and staff energies and interests in community engaged learning, to be a steward of place, and to uphold the democratic and public purposes of higher education. Many of our graduates go on to serve locally or nationally in various AmeriCorps programs or commit to two years of international service with the Peace Corps; HWS is one of only 100 colleges that matches a part of the Segal AmeriCorps education stipend and has been recognized by the Peace Corps on the list of “Top Volunteering Producing Colleges and Universities.”

Geneva 2020, a community wide collective impact initiative anchored at HWS, was featured in a competition sponsored by the National Civic League and helped secure the “All America City” designation with the City which is prominently featured on routes 5/20. HWS Colleges President Emeritus, Mark D. Gearan, served a key role on the planning committee of the competitive $10 million grant awarded to Geneva through NY State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Many student community based research projects have been utilized in planning, assessment and development efforts by the city, school district, local non-profit agencies, and civic organizations.


We celebrate this proud history of collaboration, and look toward a future that, as Campus Compact challenges us in its recent call to Civic Action, to “build a world in which all students are prepared for lives of engaged citizenship, and all campuses are engaged in strong partnerships advancing community goals, and all of higher education is recognized as an essential building block of a just, equitable, and sustainable future.” HWS Colleges is proud to have been designate for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification in 2010, one of only 28 baccalaureate colleges honored with the designation during that application cycle which occurs every ten years, and one of thirteen selected to have the application listed as an example to assist other institutions seeking the classification.

We work toward a future with our students, challenging them with embedded community engagement in curricular and co-curricular opportunities in the City of Geneva and greater Finger Lakes region, and highlight the myriad ways HWS promotes and supports collaboration:

Habitat for Humanity

CCESL Programs

Celebrating community engaged scholarship

CCESL has a number of prominent anniversaries for programs coming up in the next year and a half, which highlight our longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement:

  • 2019:
    • 15 years – HWS Votes – nonpartisan voter education and registration
    • 25 years – Days of Service – multiple one time service days involving hundreds of students each year
    • 30 years – America Reads – college students tutoring elementary school children in literacy
  • 2020:
    • 20 years – Geneva Heroes – spring semester weekend service trips and mentoring with Geneva middle and high schoolers
    • 20 years – Alternative Spring Break – service trips to locations around the country and world
Community Sale

Service Learning/Community Based Research

Many curricular programs have community engagement embedded into learning goals and capstone projects – including Social Justice Studies, Peace Studies, Education, Urban Studies, Sustainable Community Development, Sociology, Entrepreneurial Studies, and Environmental Studies. Many of these final projects are archived on the CBR page.

Geneva 2020 – HWS is ‘backbone’ for community’s collective impact “cradle to career” initiative.

Youth Engagement and Support

Geneva Chamber of Commerce

Spiritual Engagement – inclusive outreach to local faith communities

Ontario ARC – The College Experience

HWS Arts Experience Festival

Finger Lakes Institute

WEOS – Finger Lakes Public Radio



Rochester Regional Network / Rochester Youth Year AmeriCorps program

NY Campus Compact

New York Six – Liberal Arts Consortium


About Geneva

  • Geneva was originally the site of the Seneca Nation village of Kanadasaga.
  • The Seneca lived by democratic ideals believed by historians to have influenced the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Geneva was first incorporated in 1806; Geneva College, the precursor to Hobart, was founded in 1818; William Smith College was founded in 1908.
  • The first women’s rights convention was held in 1848, just across Seneca Lake in the Town of Waterloo.
  • The population of Geneva is about 14,000.
  • Seneca Lake is the deepest and widest of the Finger Lakes.


Archived Community Based Research Projects

Projects By Date

Projects By Topic

Community Resources

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.