What is the CWSP?

Introduction to Program

The Community Work-Study Program is sponsored by the Cornell University Public Service Center (PSC) to enable Cornell Federal Work-Study students to work for nonprofit organizations, schools, and municipalities in the Ithaca and Tompkins County region.  Opportunities are offered in a variety of areas, including the arts, education, daycare, environmental programs, health services, legal services, programs for the elderly, public works and engineering departments, women's organizations, and youth programs.


The U.S. Department of Education, which governs the Federal Work Study program (FWS), stipulates that colleges and universities must make students aware of community service opportunities by encouraging them to get involved in community service activities.  The FWS program participation agreement also requires the college or university to work with local nonprofit, governmental, and community-based organizations to identify community service opportunities, and inform FWS students of these opportunities.  The university must use at least 7% of its FWS allocation to employ students in community service jobs.  At least one of the FWS students the university employs to fulfill this requirement must work:
  • performing family literacy activities in a family literacy project that provides services to families with preschool-age children or elementary school children
  • as a reading tutor for children who are preschool age or are in elementary school. 
Employing FWS students in these positions serves the needs of the community and gives the students an enriching and rewarding experience.  To further encourage schools to employ FWS students in these positions and as mathematics tutors, the America Reads Challenge and America Counts Challenge (ARC/C) programs were created, through which FWS funds 100% of the students' wages.  In order to organize and develop the ARC/C programs, the Public Service Center created the REACH program (Raising Education Attainment CHallenge) in 1998.

Each year an average of 300 students are placed in work-study positions in the local community.  In addition to REACH, another 20 students are employed by the Public Service Center to implement student-run projects and programs, and assist with the other various services to students involved in community service efforts.  

How Are "Community Services" Defined?

"Community services" are defined as those services that are identified by an institution of higher education through formal or informal consultation with local nonprofit, governmental, and community-based organizations, designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income individuals, or to solve particular problems related to their needs.  These services include:
  • fields such as health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutorial services), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural     development, and community improvement;
  • support services for students with disabilities (including students with disabilities who are enrolled at the university).
  • activities in which a FWS student serves as a mentor for such purposes as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities, and counseling, including career counseling.