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Student Led Initiatives
Student Led Initiatives

Student-Led Initiatives

Students in the Trustee Leader Scholar Program (TLS) propose, design, and implement civic engagement projects based on their own passionate interests. TLS projects are local, national, and international, and may be initiated at any point in the college career. The hallmark of the TLS program is an unwavering belief in each student’s ability to take complete ownership of his or her own work. Some projects grow into permanent, College-sponsored ventures, including La Voz, an award winning, Spanish-language magazine; the Bard Prison Initiative; and the Early College in New Orleans.

About TLS

The Trustee Leader Scholar Program, one of Bard's longest-running civic engagement programs, is the College’s undergraduate leadership development initiative. TLS serves as an outstanding model for student-inspired civic engagement, and is deeply rooted in the mission and outreach efforts of CCE.

At any given time, TLS supports 40 to 45 student-led efforts and more than 450 students volunteer annually to help with TLS projects. Most of them remain active in the program throughout their college careers. TLS puts capable adults into the world with the ability to design, plan, fund, and implement large-scale projects.

A hallmark of the TLS program is the willingness to take risks and make a difference under difficult circumstances. Over the years TLS students have built schools in Africa and homes in Nicaragua; run summer camps; led arts workshops in Myanmar; created widely read publications that affect a growing immigrant population; and promoted tolerance in local high schools.

Longstanding TLS projects include the Red Hook ESL program, which provides free language instruction to non-English speakers in the Hudson Valley, while doing advocacy work with recent immigrants; after-school tutoring programs in Hudson and Rhinebeck; and an expressive arts program in a residential school for children with behavioral and emotional health issues.

Learn more about TLS here


Click here to view common questions about the TLS program, its participants, and how it works.

Featured Student Project

Bard Launch is a microphilanthropy platform that supports Bard student-led initiatives. Bard Launch allows students to pursue positive change, both locally and globally, through crowdfunded projects.  Bard Launch projects raise funds, but more importantly, they build community around a common goal of improving lives. 

Trustee Leader Scholar Program Video

Red Hook ESL Center

In the Hudson Valley there are many non-native English speakers who face difficulty communicating with their fellow inhabitants of their rural surroundings. The Red Hook ESL Center has been offering free tutoring sessions in ESL for youth and adults of the greater Red Hook, Tivoli, Kingston, and Rhinebeck communities since 2002. 

Hope for Devereux 

Devereux partners with families, schools and communities in order to help some of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals achieve happiness and personal fulfillment. Hope for Devereux offers developmentally challenged individuals a community of committed and caring Bard students and to create a sustainable relationship between Bard College and the Devereux Foundation in Red Hook. 

Brothers at Bard 

Brothers at Bard is a character development, peer mediation, and mentorship outreach program for young men of color from underserved communities. The project is made up of active members of Brothers at Bard forum groups on campus. The members on campus play the role of "big Brothers," or mentors, to the young men in the group, and provide support through a variety of mentoring strategies.

Sounds of Social Change

Sounds of Social Change (SSC) is a student-initiated, Bard Trustee Leader Scholar (TLS) project aimed at teaching and mentoring young musicians living in poverty-stricken conditions in Cali, Colombia.  We use music education as a vehicle to empower youth and ignite change.