The Office of Civic & Community Engagement (OCCE) strives to promote meaningful social change; our work has never been more important than in these extraordinarily challenging times. We must confront anti-blackness and white supremacy, and reaffirm a commitment to racial justice. The global pandemic highlights systemic issues as we see the disproportionate impact on marginalized groups. Members of our community struggle to navigate disparities in health care, transportation, food access, employment, and education.

Yet, in the midst of heaviness and grief, I want to pause and celebrate the incredible work of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners, both on- and off-campus. Our Civic Scholars produced stunning original research and creative work, and contributed significantly to organizations in Winston-Salem. ACE Fellows developed meaningful, community-based projects. The OCCE team pivoted quickly to a remote environment and developed a series of virtual community engagement opportunities. And, after a rigorous self-evaluation and peer-review process, Wake Forest was named one of the 119 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates exceptional institutional commitment to community engagement. These are just a few highlights of a remarkable spring semester.

As we look to the summer, OCCE staff is engaged with students in a wide array of virtual programs, including internships, research and oral history, election engagement, social justice education, and virtual camps for K-12 students. We are committed to partnering with community organizations, standing in solidarity with marginalized groups, and working collectively to confront injustice. We invite all members of the Wake Forest community to join us in this essential work with and for humanity.


This January, the Carnegie Foundation recognized Wake Forest as one of the 119 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement. Wake Forest joins 75 other institutions who have been reclassified, after initially receiving the designation in 2010.

This important classification is awarded following a rigorous self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center for Public Engagement at Brown University, the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. The application requires a comprehensive assessment of community-based work, including an audit of service-learning courses, procurement practices, infrastructure, leadership and co-curricular student engagement.

As the hub of community-based activity at Wake Forest, The Office of Civic & Community Engagement (OCCE), partners with community members, faculty, staff and students to create meaningful social change. OCCE sponsors various programs that impact the local community.

During the reclassification process, Wake Forest identified more than 86 community-based programs and initiatives, involving 140 community partners. While the Office of Civic & Community Engagement serves as the hub of community-based activity on campus, more than 25 academic departments, offices or units sponsor a community-engaged project, with every Wake Forest school hosting at least one community-engaged project.


On Saturday, January 25 at the Donald J. Reaves Student Center, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) and Wake Forest University (WFU), partnered to host the 11th annual MLK Read-In Day. The annual event promotes Dr. King's legacy of service, literacy and community empowerment. Children, ages 4-11, were paired with a "reading buddy", WSSU and WFU students, who read and participated in varying activities with them.

Approximately 116 children participated in the annual event, alongside 120 volunteers from both Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State. With the help of donations from members of the community, over 200 age-appropriate books were distributed to children in attendance.

Reading Buddies accompanied children to 17 different interactive activity stations, which included a Musical Petting Zoo hosted by UNCSA and a Civil Rights Movement station, where children learned about the 60th Anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-in. Children in attendance also had the opportunity to learn about energy efficiency with the energy bike at the Piedmont Environmental Alliance station, among other activities.


This spring, Deacs Decide began its 2020 Fellowship program, providing Wake Forest students the unique opportunity to directly engage with nonpartisan civic engagement efforts. Thirteen students were selected and serve in various positions.

  • Catherine Carpenter, Programming
  • Samantha Horowitz, Campus Outreach
  • Gwyneth Lonergan, Academic Liaison
  • Elizabeth MacDonald, Programming
  • Jenna Mayer, Programming
  • Abby McNamara, Programming
  • Kate Pearson, Academic Liaison
  • Christian Ricci, Community Outreach
  • Ashwin Singh, Campus Outreach
  • Drew Skilton, Marketing & Communications
  • Katie Southwick, Campus Outreach
  • Madeline Tuck, Marketing & Communications
  • Edna Ulysse, Campus Outreach

Together, fellows will work toward nonpartisan electoral engagement by registering students, faculty, staff, and community members to vote; creating and distributing educational materials, such as nonpartisan candidate guides; providing current information about voting and polling locations; and organizing Deacs Decide events leading up to the 2020 election.


For the first time, the Kids Cooking Coalition (KCC) took its talents beyond the classroom and hosted a cooking competition. The four-week-long competition began on January 17 and concluded Friday, February 7, at the YWCA Best Choice Center, made possible through a generous donation by Food Lion, a leading sponsor. Eight KCC students, ages 9-12, who had been with the program since its inception in 2018 were selected to participate and display their cooking skills for the event.

In an effort to challenge and excite students who had been with the program since its pilot year, the KCC Competition was created to give student chefs something new and exciting to work toward, all the while testing the skills they have honed in the past two years during their participation in the KCC program.

On competition day, each team had an hour to prepare, plate, and present to the judges. Students were judged on four main criteria: the team’s overall work ethic, skill, and morale; the flavor of the dish; the use of healthy ingredients throughout the recipe; and the culinary inspiration behind the dish.

Students were split into two teams of four, Team Jant and Team Teriyaki, where they discussed the concept of the competition, selected the cuisine they planned to prepare, and researched recipes for inspiration. Subsequent weeks were spent reviewing their recipes, practicing their finale dish, fine-tuning plating details, and working through their table presentation.
Team Jant prepared “A Taste of Thailand” menu which featured pineapple fried rice with egg noodles, cucumber salad, fruit salad, roti, and a coconut mango smoothie, while Team Teriyaki put together “A Taste of Japan” bento box that featured miso soup, rice balls, anmitsu (fruit salad), a scratch-made teriyaki sauce, stir-fry vegetables, and a vanilla matcha smoothie.

Junior Jenna Mayer Selected As Newman Civic Fellow

Jenna Mayer, a junior from Hopatcong, N.J., was one of 290 students selected for Campus Compact’s 2020-21 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows, selected for their leadership and civic engagement initiatives on campus.

Campus Compact is a Boston-based nonprofit organization that is working to advance the public purposes of higher education. The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year experience that emphasizes personal, professional and civic growth for student leaders who demonstrate an interest in solving public problems.

Mayer, a double major in Politics and International Affairs and Elementary Education, devotes her time to reducing educational inequities throughout the Winston-Salem area through after-school programs with local middle schools and Wake Forest University student government.


For over 20 years, Wake Forest students have participated in Wake Alternative Break trips. This year, 14 students utilized their spring break to make a difference, volunteering with various nonprofit organizations in Atlanta, Ga., New Orleans, La., and Otway, Ohio. Together, they contributed over 560 volunteer hours of service.

Together, students learned about animal advocacy and rescue at Furkids Animal Rescue & Shelters in Atlanta, Ga.; completed disaster-relief work with the United Saints Recovery Project in New Orleans, La.; and learned about and engaged in sustainable agriculture at Hurricane Run Farm in Otway, Ohio.

Alongside the staff at United Saints Recovery Project, which works to restore and strengthen communities affected by natural disasters; students assisted with rebuilding homes and engaging homeowners while reflecting on the national and local response to Hurricane Katrina through the lens of race, class, and social justice.
At Furkids, the largest no-kill animal shelter in Georgia, students worked hand-in-hand with both staff and fellow alternative spring breakers from the University of Vermont. Together they helped renovate the new shelter location; organized and renovated the thrift store, which provides revenue and public awareness for the shelter; exercised the adoptable dogs and puppies; socialized the cats and kittens, and helped care for all the adoptable animals on site. Hurricane Run Farm -- which produces a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, jams, jellies, baked goods, and granola -- was the home base for students in Ohio. Throughout the week, they volunteered on the farm while learning about sustainable agriculture.


A group of Wake Forest students embarked on the bi-annual Civil Rights Tour hosted by the Office of Civic & Community Engagement, in partnership with the Intercultural Center and Office of Diversity and Inclusion, during spring break. Together, along with WFU staff, students traveled to key sites in Civil Rights Movement.

Throughout the week, students learned about civil rights leaders; visited museums, monuments, and community organizations; and engaged in readings, reflections, and journaling as they made their way through each stop on the week-long trip with stops in Atlanta, Ga., Selma, Ala., Montgomery, Ala., Birmingham, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn.

The Civil Rights Tour was made possible due to contributions from the Student Activities Fund, Division of Campus Life, President's Office, Provost Office, the Chaplain's Office, International Students and Scholars, Global Programs and Studies, and University Police.

The 2020 Civil Rights Tour began in Atlanta, Ga., with stops at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, and Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Participants made three stops in Alabama: Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham. In Selma, students visited the National Voting Rights Museum and made the historic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. While in Montgomery, participants visited the Dexter Parsonage and Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Rosa Parks Museum before concluding their time in the state's capitol with a visit to the Equal Justice Initiative's Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. A stop in Birmingham concluded the student's time in Alabama, where they visited the historic 16th Street Baptist Church and attended an organizing workshop at the Adelante Alabama Worker Center.
Wake Forest students spent their final day of the Civil Rights Tour in Memphis, Tenn., at the National Civil Rights Museum which is built around the former Lorraine Motel, the site of Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, and meeting with WFU Alumni.

Following the return from Wake Alternative Break and the Civil Rights Tour, Wake Forest suspended in-person classes, as concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic grew throughout the United States. Once it was apparent that students would not be returning to campus for the remainder of the academic year, the Office of Civic & Community Engagement moved swiftly to find ways for the Wake Forest community to stay engaged in a virtual environment, launching a series of programs and initiatives.

The OCCE created Virtual Educational Resources -- free resources for parents and guardians of K-12 students -- and Community Partner Needs & Resources, a one-stop shop to connect Wake Forest and Winston-Salem organizations with resources and support.

Key virtual engagement programs through the Office of Civic & Community Engagement include:

WAKE 'N SHAKE GOES VIRTUAL for 15th anniversary

A longstanding tradition at Wake Forest, the 2020 Wake 'N Shake Dance Marathon was re-imagined as a virtual event held via social media on Instagram, Tik Tok, and Facebook on Saturday, April 4. Members of the Wake Forest community came together in the spirit of this year's theme: Dare to Discover the Cure.

Like the traditional, in-person event, various themes were introduced throughout the day, this time with activities and video challenges. Students were invited to participate in a yoga class during Wellbeing hour or submit a video of themselves with their best trick-shot during Athletics hour.

Members of the Wake 'N Shake Executive Board closed out the event with a live stream on Facebook, revealing their fundraising total of $383,550.29 for the 2020 event. In all, Wake 'N Shake 2020 reached over 60,000 individuals by going virtual.

educational resources CENTRAL TO virtual engagement efforts

After hearing from parents and guardians looking for educational resources and activities, OCCE staff members curated a list of educational resources, developed a virtual tutoring program, and worked with student leaders to record various demonstrations, including cooking lessons, science lessons, and virtual story-time via Wake Reads.

Virtual Tutoring matches Wake Forest undergraduate and graduate student tutors with K-12 students in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system (WSFCS) for weekly, one-hour sessions that match the tutors area of expertise and the student's area of academic need. Because of the virtual tutoring program, 125 WSFCS students from 49 different schools were paired with 125 WFU students for the remainder of the academic year. In total, 385 hours of tutoring were provided. Tutoring will continue throughout the summer months, as needed for students and available tutors.

Wake Reads provides virtual story time for children while giving parents a break as they juggle working from home and caring for their children who are out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All members of the Wake Forest and Winston-Salem community are welcome to participate, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni. To date, over 37 stories have been submitted, and have been viewed over 13,000 times on the OCCE Facebook page.

Unable to finish its curriculum at local schools, the Kids' Cooking Coalition transitioned to at-home kitchens in an online environment, bringing kid-friendly recipes to everyone at home. Together, AmeriCorps*VISTA member Amelia Bass and the student directors brought their culinary skills to the computer screen and continued to teach culinary skills, such as measuring ingredients, cutting vegetables, and safely using the stove, in addition to tasty recipes.

STEM@Wake consists of partnerships throughout campus and in the community in an effort to provide ideas for at-home science projects and STEM-based education for K-12 children. Children can learn how to make their own lava lamp or rocket out of materials they have at home, or can get a lesson in energy from the Piedmont Environmental Alliance.

OCCE Celebrates end of 2019-20 Academic Year Virtually

Despite not being on campus, the OCCE celebrated the annual Service Awards through digital and social forums.


  • Christman Award: Grace Yucha
  • Change-Maker Award: Alexander Holt
  • Junior Service Excellence Award: Lilly Parker
  • Sophomore Service Excellence Award: Kate Pearson
  • First-Year Service Excellence Award: Jayden Brown
  • Student Organization Service Excellence Award: Wake 'N Shake
  • Faculty Service Excellence Award: Dr. Dani Parker-Moore
  • Michael G. Ford Servant Leadership Award: Dwight Lewis
  • Community Partner Service Award: Mia Parker, Kimberly Park Elementary

Additionally, the 2020 class of Civic Scholars and students in the Dash Corps cohort presented their capstone projects virtually. Learn more about each of the respective honorees and their projects below.

Camry Wilborn, Assistant Director of Community Partnerships, was honored with the 2019-2020 SOAR Award in Advisor Achievement for her role advising the Network of Educational Resources and Development (NERD).


Wake Forest Photo