Current TLS Projects
- Astor Services for Children and Families
Astor Services for Children and Families in Rhinebeck, New York, functions as a school and residential space of rehabilitation, providing mental health services to children who have experienced emotional and/or physical trauma. Bard students become mentors and positive role models for these children, leading a range of activities for two hours each week. Activities are taught in a one-on-one or group setting, and range from theater and cooking to pottery and science projects; the activities depend on the shared interest of the Bard volunteer and Astor student. The project serves as an opportunity for children to be part of a safe, fun environment in which they can develop their passions and learn skills. This program helps children who are overcoming obstacles in their lives to feel appreciated, listened to, and acknowledged.
- Bard Biodiesel Collective
The Bard Biodiesel Cooperative makes environmentally friendly fuel from community waste. The co-op works with Chartwells (Bard’s dining hall operator) and local restaurants to acquire waste vegetable oil. The oil is made into biodiesel in our on-campus processor and can be used in place of petrodiesel in vehicles, home furnaces, and farm equipment. Biodiesel is virtually carbon neutral and emits fewer particulate emissions than petrodiesel. Members of the cooperative not only receive a share of the fuel, but also a hands-on education in biodiesel processing. The fuel is also sold at chemical cost to members of the Bard community. The co-op makes alternative energy a reality.
- Bard Branches Community Center
The Bard Branches Community Center is a comprehensive after-school and community engagement project. We provide tutoring, mentoring, and creative education programs for middle school students in Germantown. Bard Branches engages a number of other Bard TLS projects and clubs in its mission to provide alternative creative education programs to students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to after-school education opportunities. In addition to our work in the schools, we organize community events to connect Bard students with local families, and a summer program on the Bard campus.
- Bard Builds
BardBuilds was founded on the belief that physical structures can have an immense impact on the quality of an individual’s or community’s life. We work with communities on and off campus to democratize the design and construction processes of spaces that affect them. This project gives Bard students interested in urban planning and architecture the opportunity to step outside of the classroom and engage practically with theories they’ve learned, while providing local organizations with help they need. Students interested in architecture work with members of Bard’s faculty and staff to improve the infrastructure on campus and give voice to student needs. Those interested in urban planning work with the planning office of the City of Kingston, New York, to develop a master plan for the city for 2025. Students interested in sustainable living work with the Long Spoon Collective in Saugerties, New York, to further develop the off-grid housing and farming community. The work includes designing models and drawing sketches, constructing “tiny” homes, collecting data on zoning laws and city components, mapping (drafting and digital), writing grants, and community organizing. Student leaders organize on-campus workshops to train other students in these practical skills so that they approach our local communities with specific planning and design skills.
- Bard College Community Garden
Since 1997, the Community Garden has been a haven for agricultural enthusiasts from Bard and beyond. During the growing season, people from the College and surrounding communities meet in the garden for potluck suppers and work parties, helping to maintain the garden’s abundant fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The garden is a favorite year-round gathering spot for students: a place for conversation, campfires, and drumming. Over the last few years we rebuilt the benches and constructed a hay shed. Next we’re going to attempt an outdoor brick oven. There is always work to do and everyone is encouraged to participate in every aspect of the garden.
Download: community garden.JPG
- Bard Food Initiative
Our goal of developing local food culture through outreach programs and schoolwide food service reform is not only our priority as consumers but also is our duty as responsible citizens. The Bard Food Initiative will lay the foundation for an institutionalized local and organic food service infrastructure that will work with the Hudson Valley’s vast farming community to raise the bar for what it means to eat in a new, sustainable society. We, the students of Bard College, choose to embrace a piece of the worldwide community-based agriculture movement and commit to building our awareness of the impact our methods of food production have on our health, our society, and our future.
Student Leader: Carter Vanderbilt
Contact(s): Carter Vanderbilt
- Bard Math Circle
The Bard Math Circle is a mathematics enrichment program for upper elementary and middle school students, families, and teachers. We invite students and teachers to the Bard campus and travel to local libraries and schools in order to facilitate a partnership between the college and the surrounding community. Activities such as games, puzzles, and problem sets are presented to participants in an enthusiastic and encouraging manner, allowing students, educators, and volunteers to explore mathematics outside of the typical school curriculum. Both creative, hands-on approaches and teamwork are highly encouraged, introducing a stimulating community aspect to a subject often thought to be dull and isolating. The Bard Math Circle bridges the gap between academic and recreational mathematics; critical thinking skills learned with us are applicable both at school and in general.
Contact(s): Eliana Miller
- Bard Model United Nations Initiative
The Bard Model United Nations Initiative (BMUNI) strives to assist in the establishment, development, organization, and education of Model United Nations (MUN) teams in the Hudson Valley region. BMUNI works closely with students and faculty at Red Hook High School, where students meet on a regular basis to learn how to write foreign–policy position papers, research and discuss international current affairs, and become confident public speakers. BMUNI runs an annual Model United Nations conference at Bard College, BardMUNC. BardMUNC is run collaboratively by Bard students, Bard-affiliated students, and Red Hook High School students. Teams attend conferences and engage in an expansive discourse with hundreds of other schools, drafting resolutions to solve the world’s most pressing international crises. BMUNI aspires to increase knowledge regarding the international community and aid in the development of academic and social skills of participating youth.
- Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative
The Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative (BPYI) is founded upon the belief that constructive civil engagement, cultural exchange, and education are fundamental means to changing the situation on the ground in the Palestinian territories. Every year, 20 Bard College students travel to Mas’ha, a small village in the West Bank where, in partnership with the local community, we run children’s summer camps and community engagement projects, teach English classes, and join in cultural discourse. The BPYI is additionally working to establish a relationship between Red Hook, the town where Bard is located, and Mas’ha that is grounded in a dialogue of artistic expression between the youth of both towns.
- Bard Prison Initiative Volunteers
The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) creates the opportunity for incarcerated men and women to earn a Bard College degree while serving their sentences. Current Bard undergraduates support BPI by assisting professors, tutoring inmates on GED test preparation, and leading precollege programs. Undergraduate volunteers also offer a creative writing workshop at Beacon Women’s Correctional Facility. The creative writing workshop explores the art of poetry, memoir, and fiction writing by critically examining selected texts and working on personal writing projects. An anthology of the participants’ final written work is published at the end of each year. BPI and undergraduate volunteers collaborate to sponsor speakers, workshops, and conferences in order to spread campus awareness of the issues of mass incarceration in the United States.
- Bard Science Outreach
Bard Science Outreach (BSO) is a student-run project that aims to promote science education among middle school and high school students in the Hudson Valley region. Every year we invite students from Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, New York, to our campus to perform scientific experiments; we also mentor them with independent science projects. BSO continues to be involved in developing community projects, which will be part of the Citizen Science program. We cooperate with other TLS projects, such as the Bard Math Circle, and are always looking for ways to collaborate with other groups and events in the community. We welcome involvement from both science majors and people who are simply interested in science.
Contact(s): Olja Simoska
- Bard's Senegalese Sewing and Sustainability Project
Bard students support the technical education of young women in Sandiara, Senegal, West Africa. A lack of resources makes it impossible for most of the young women in the village to continue their academic lives. Left to fend for themselves, they frequently are sent to cities to become maids, working shifts of 12 to 14 hours per day. In this Bard program, young women learn a trade. For now we concentrate on sewing and tailoring. In addition to technical skills, the women receive education about financial management, marketing, and gender equality. Participating young women prepare to take their products to market and earn real incomes. This project was brought to the attention of Bard students by residents of the village, and is operated with the assistance of a village resident who began sewing instruction for young women in her home. The need for instruction, equipment, and training far exceeds the limited resources and working space available. We hope to construct a small, sturdy factory building in the village that will provide a dependable opportunity for skill building and work.
- Brothers At Bard
Brothers At Bard is an outreach program focused on the mentorship and character development of young men of color from underserved backgrounds and communities. Brothers At Bard targets boys of middle- and high-school age in Kingston, and Hudson, New York. Project volunteers are active members of the Brothers At Bard campus forum, who play the roles of “big brothers” or mentors to the young men of the cohort. The safe space created by the brotherhood uses group mentorship to discuss important issues that affect young men of color globally and personally. Brothers At Bard looks to expose the cohort to successful, college-educated men of color, enhance the community, and empower future leaders of black America and beyond.
- Building Up Hudson
Students in Building Up Hudson tutor and mentor high school students in Hudson, New York. We lead workshops catering to career development, college preparation, and college admissions; personal skill building; and positive personal expression. We also raise funds for Building Up Hudson Scholarships for eligible high school seniors who could not otherwise afford college. The Building Up Hudson staff, consisting of the College mentor team, publicity squad, and fund-raising committee, is a team dedicated to the personal and academic growth of the young scholars we work with. We hope to instill values that will foster confidence for impacting the world.
- Child to Child Nepal
Bard students travel to Nepal in the summer to work with novice monks at the Manjushri Di Chen Buddhist Learning Center in Pharping Valley. They teach English to novice monks (ages 5–13), and along with the elder novices (ages 14-19), administer a program based on Bard’s Language and Thinking Program to the wider community. Although Bard students work primarily with children at the Buddhist Learning Center, they also accompany the elder novice monks to a nearby public school to assist in teaching the children there.
Student Leader: Isabella Wilcher
Contact(s): Isabella Wilcher
- Community Engagement Arts Project
The Community Engagement Arts Project (CEAP) focuses on community art making and the process of finding a personal, creative, and empowering voice of expression through visual arts, movement, theater, music, poetry, and play. CEAP members use the arts to interact with children, teens, and adult community members to explore the emotional content of their lives and overcome personal challenges. Members attend on-campus arts workshops led by professional practitioners and educators to equip themselves with the knowledge and confidence to disgne and implement their own workshops at sites such as Astor Services for Children and Families in Rhinebeck, New York, a residential school for emotionally at-risk children; the Center for Spectrum Services in Kingston, New York, a school for children with autism; Red Hook Residential Center, in Upper Red Hook, New York, a minimum-security juvenile detention center for boys ages 12–18; and Ferncliff Nursing Home for the elderly in Rhinebeck. In addition to engaging in arts programs with communities outside Bard, CEAP seeks to use the arts to build stronger community here at Bard. Finally, CEAP members have also traveled to work with children in Colombia, Ghana, India, Myanmar (Burma), New Orleans, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
- Dream To Achieve
Dream To Achieve (DTA) works with at-risk and underresourced students in the Hudson and Kingston communities to build a culture of academic achievement and college aspiration and success. DTA connects area youth with Bard College students, faculty, and resources on campus through engaging activities, educational opportunities, mentoring relationships,
A Brothers At Bard session with high school students in Kingston, New York.
Contact(s): Harry Johnson
- Germantown Tutoring Program
College students work closely with teachers in third-, fifth-, and sixth-grade classrooms at the Germantown Central School District. Tutoring in a variety of subjects with diverse teachers allows Bard students to engage in classrooms of all shapes and sizes. The Bard Germantown project is ideal for students interested in teaching because it allows students to observe and engage in elementary school classrooms on a weekly basis. For the Germantown students, our project presents an opportunity to build relationships with college students who can inspire them to be interested in higher education and learning. Germantown, New York, is an area with an incredible amount of need. The high drop-out rate at the school motivates Bard students to lend a hand to the local community. The impassioned and hardworking teachers also continually motivate us to give our time to the amazing Germantown kids.
Contact(s): Julia Jardine
- Hope in Devereux
The Devereux Foundation helps and inspires hope in some of our nation’s most special individuals. It provides a continuum of care for children, adolescents, and adults faced with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Devereux believes that “family engagement is one of the most important building blocks in successful treatment and outcomes.” Hope in Devereux expands this family and offers a community of young adults who volunteer in the closest Devereux site, in Red Hook, New York. We provide patients with homework help, drawing and art experiences, and simple companionship with people around their own age living a different kind of life. The work inspires Bard students by providing the experience of relating to very different kinds of people.
Student Leader: Britt Shachum
Contact(s): Britt Shachum
- La Voz
La Voz is a Spanish-language magazine, distributed monthly throughout New York’s Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Columbia counties, which elevates the discourse and news coverage available to the Spanish-speaking population of the Hudson Valley. This project involves continual dialogue with the communities served by the magazine. La Voz is a critical source of information on immigration law, available health services, legal rights and resources, educational opportunities, and local events relevant to the more than 106,000 Hispanic/Latino area residents (almost 80,000 of whom prefer to speak Spanish at home). Bard students work directly with editor Mariel Fiori ’05 on all aspects of the magazine’s production, from illustration and reporting to community outreach and distribution (5,000 copies to almost 400 stops in about 20 towns every month). Fiori began the magazine with Emily Schmall ’05 as a TLS project while an undergraduate at Bard. After graduation, Fiori was hired by the College to publish La Voz on a permanent basis. In 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011 the magazine received the Ippie Award for best overall design from the New York Community Media Alliance (formerly the Independent Press Association of New York). In 2008, La Voz was recognized by A.H.O.R.A. (Association for Hispanics to Obtain Resources & Assistance), a Poughkeepsie-based organization focused on aiding Hispanic residents. In 2010, La Voz was awarded a Special Citation from the Dutchess County Executive’s Arts Awards.
- New Orleans Exchange
Since 2005, the New Orleans Project has strived to empower New Orleanians working to rebuild their city as a more just, equitable, and sustainable place. An entirely student-run program, the Bard New Orleans Project’s members have traveled to New Orleans each year since Hurricane Katrina. More than 500 Bard students have worked to meet the needs of local communities through close partnerships with organizations such as the Broadmoor Improvement Association, McDonogh 35 High School, Andrew H. Wilson Charter School, and Bard Early College in New Orleans. Students have gutted buildings and provided summer remediation programs for high school students striving to make up for class time lost to the storm; have biannually surveyed existing property damage in the Broadmoor neighborhood and created geographic information system (GIS) maps of spatial concentrations of specific needs; have provided tutoring and facilitated arts workshops for children in elementary and middle schools; have worked at Andrew H. Wilson school as teachers’ aides and have begun a year-long Bard student–to–Wilson student dialogue that promotes literacy and cultural exchange. In addition, upwards of 30 Bard graduates have moved to New Orleans after their senior year to continue the work they encountered through this project.
- Nicaragua Education Initiative
The Nicaragua Education Initiative focuses on specific educational projects that empower youth and community members in the town of Chacraseca, a rural community in western Nicaragua. For the past 10 years, Bard students have been going to Chacraseca for three weeks in January and living with members of the community. Throughout our relationship with Chacraseca, this project has gone from hurricane relief to focusing on ways to create a form of sustainable education. We tutor community members ranging from 5 to 21 years old in English and organize art projects as a means of creative expression. We strive to maintain a presence within the community even when we are back at Bard, through continuous fund-raising for scholarships and supporting an English teacher in Chacraseca on the weekends. Our project endeavors to provide community members with the opportunity to achieve an education and gives Bard students a unique perspective on both the similarities and differences of a new culture.
- Old Gym Project
The Old Gym is Bard’s only multipurpose, student-run arts space. While Bard fully supports the arts, it can be hard for students of the performing and visual arts (majors and others) to find space for experimenting and taking risks. The Old Gym, which has the technical capabilities of a black-box theater, is open to any student who wants to explore performance or alternative installation projects. The space is run by a committee of students from every artistic discipline—theater, dance, studio arts, photography, and music.
- Red Hook English as a Second Language (ESL) Center
The Red Hook ESL Center brings English-speaking and immigrant community members together in Red Hook, New York, through free drop-in English classes. Organized and staffed by Bard students and community volunteers, the center serves a diverse and emerging population in the Hudson Valley. The project seeks to create a comfortable learning environment for community members who might feel isolated by limited English proficiency. By providing them with language skills, we support their efforts to participate in both the local community and the larger American society with greater confidence and knowledge. At the same time, the center creates a space in which students and tutors build relationships with members of their community whom they otherwise might not meet. The project also serves children of these community members as volunteers assist with the development of English and other skills that the children must learn in school. The volunteers are another resource, along with teachers and parents, trying to help these children achieve as much as they can.
- Red Hook Residential Tutoring Program
A group of Bard students holds weekly, one-on-one tutoring sessions with first-time youth offenders incarcerated at the Red Hook Residential Center in Upper Red Hook, New York. The subject areas include reading, writing, math, and GED prep. We tailor specific material to fit students’ individual needs and to align with the class curricula. Through this project, we hope to offer the students at Red Hook Residential the opportunity to meet or exceed their grade level, to enhance their understanding of fundamental academic material, and to foster in them an appreciation for continued education.
Contact(s): Anais Stambolis-D'Agostino
- Sister Cities Project
The Sister Cities Project works to strengthen the bonds between Red Hook, New York, and her sister towns: Kfar Tavor, Israel, and Mas’ha, West Bank. By working with local schools in these towns, the program will connect Israeli and Palestinian youth to the youth of Red Hook. The Bard College students will work with the Red Hook Town Sister Cities Committee to cultivate these relationships. This past September, Mayor Nedal Amer of Mas’ha visited Bard and Red Hook and participated in several events.
Contact(s): Jordana Rubenstein-Edberg
- Sounds of Social Change
The members of Sounds of Social Change believe that music builds strong bridges between people, communities, and countries and helps mitigate important societal issues. We are a group of Bard Conservatory dual-degree students interested in contextualizing our music education, and using it to inspire youth and build cultural bridges. In August 2014, we traveled to Cali, Colombia, and worked closely with the Orquesta de Siloé and Foundation Sidoc to teach and collaborate with young musicians living in the slums of Siloé. Our goal was to inspire these children to ignite change not only within themselves but also within their community. For more information, go to: www.facebook.com/pages/Sounds-of-Social-Change/693207624058541.
Student Leaders: Avery Morris and Daniel Zlatkin
- Surrealist Training Circus
The Surrealist Training Circus is a workforce for creative disruption of the public spaces in a private institution. Members believe that academic and rational training falls short in preparing students for the absurdities of today’s world; in response they pursue public theater and circus arts, and favor postapocalyptic lifestyles as modes of training for our futures. Through the presentation of the chaotic, emotional, sometimes frightening, sarcastic, and bizarre, the Circus suggests that the irrational is a goal to strive for. The Surrealist Training Circus welcomes the participation of all students, and sees spectators as ensemble members. The group’s semester culminates in a grand spectacle that has become a school tradition not to be missed.
Contact(s): Megan Snyder
- Young Rhinebeck Youth Program: Life, Learning and Language
Young Rhinebeck’s Life, Learning, and Language program provides a local support network for immigrant children and their families. Rhinebeck, New York, is home to a large population of ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers, whose academic and social needs are not always met by the school district alone. Young Rhinebeck strives to meet this need. Tutors from Bard work individually with elementary-school students to act as homework support, mentors, and models of higher academic goals. The program provides local family advocates and translation services to help maintain steady contact between the families and the school district. As advocates, mentors, and tutors, we are in constant contact with the Hispanic community in the Hudson Valley, and seek to raise social awareness of immigration and education issues.
Student Leader: Ivan Ditmars
Contact(s): Ivan Ditmars