Community Engagement

Community Engagement for Local Impact in Providence and Rhode Island

​​Brown University is deeply committed to working together with and in support of community partners to make a positive impact in Providence and across Rhode Island and the region.

Brown is building upon a decades-long commitment to stewarding strong relationships with organizations and individuals across Rhode Island to make a positive impact in local communities. We are dedicated to long-term, sustained community engagement that reflects Brown’s mission to advance teaching, learning and discovery while creating positive community outcomes.

Community engagement is fundamentally aligned with Brown’s mission. Doing this work well, in some respects, is about being a good neighbor. But, more than that, community engagement recognizes and deepens our understanding that Brown’s academic and research excellence is tied to the mutuality of benefit we achieve with the people and communities of Rhode Island.

- President Christina H. Paxson

A Framework for Community Engagement

From improving medical care and public health, to supporting local schools and contributing to the regional economy, Brown’s community engagement and commitment to the success of the local community is reflected in many ways. Our research, expertise, teaching and learning, anchor resources and investments, and inclusive pathways are the core domains that make up a five-part framework for Brown’s community engagement. Acting together, these domains can amplify mutual benefit by reliably connecting people, ideas and efforts – across campus, institutions and sectors.

The Providence and Rhode Island communities and the University are interdependent. Brown disseminates, offers and/or provides resources that can bring benefit to Providence and Rhode Island in each of the five domains. At the same time, community organizations, leaders and residents inform, offer and/or provide resources that can bring benefit to Brown University in each domain.

We consult Rhode Islanders as engaged practitioners and participants in research on the causes of and solutions to pressing societal concerns, generating and sharing useful knowledge that is responsive and beneficial to community stakeholders.


  • Community-Engaged Research
  • Faculty & Student Research Aligned with Local Priorities
  • Translated & Applied Findings 

We invest in holistic engaged co/curricular student learning that develops foundational skills and habits to become informed, ethical and engaged community members.


  • Community-Engaged Courses 
  • Community Practitioners as Co-Educators
  • Engaged Student Organizations
  • Fellowships & Residencies 
  • Off-Campus Work-Study 
  • Practica & Internships 


Through our network of faculty and staff, we connect with community organizations, institutions, groups and residents to collaborate on areas of shared interest and public concern.  


  • Consultation & Training
  • Membership on Boards & Commissions
  • Public Speaking & Writing

We invest in college access, workforce development and local businesses to advance equitable educational outcomes and economic mobility for Rhode Islanders.


  • College Access & K-12 Partnerships
  • Hiring & Workforce Development
  • Supplier/Business Development



We contribute to local economic vitality, civic health and environmental sustainability through areas such as employment, procurement, facilities, arts and athletics.


  • Arts, Culture, Athletics 
  • Employment
  • Library & Technology Access
  • Purchasing/Procurement 
  • Space & Land Use 
  • Sponsorships & Funding
  • Transit & Infrastructure Investments 

Community Engagement Priorities and Impact

Each year, hundreds of Brown University students, faculty and staff work in partnership with local community organizations and groups throughout Rhode Island. These partnerships catalyze activities like after-school programming, tutoring and mentoring young people; supporting refugees and people experiencing homelessness; providing healthcare; contributing to arts and cultural exhibits and performances and much more to create positive impacts for Rhode Islanders.

Some of the many ways in which Brown programs and initiatives contribute locally are highlighted below.

Brown University plays a vital role in the economy of Providence and Rhode Island — as a top employer, community partner, and driver of economic vitality. With a deep and longstanding commitment to investing in the community it calls home, the University is the largest voluntary financial contributor to the city, injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy each year.
For decades, Brown has worked closely with school leaders in Providence to support K-12 education through teaching, training and mentoring, research, volunteer efforts and financial investments aligned with the priorities of those schools.
For more than two and a half centuries, Brown has been deeply connected to the diverse and vibrant City of Providence – as a neighbor, employer and institution dedicated to a mission of education, research and service.
As a research university with the state's only schools of medicine and public health, Brown contributes to world-class medical care, strong patient outcomes and innovative solutions for pressing health challenges facing communities across Rhode Island through its Warren Alpert Medical School, School of Public Health and affiliated programs.

Connecting with Brown

Brown University is committed to engaging with and supporting our local partners.

If you have questions or want to learn more about community engagement at Brown University, please reach out to us at

If you have a project, event, internship or even an idea in its very early stages, we invite you to connect with us to share more!

Connect with us

Central Engagement Offices at Brown

The Swearer Center catalyzes student learning and commitment to lifelong civic engagement, builds capacity among faculty and staff interested in community-engaged scholarship and action, and cultivates and stewards long-term partnerships with community organizations and groups.
Provides expertise and counsel to connect Brown University with the community and government. The OGCR provides strategic counsel to our Brown colleagues, represents Brown publicly in government and community forums, and is a hub for connecting and navigating Brown and external constituencies.