Project SERVE (Service and Education through Residential Volunteer Experience) is a unique, year-long opportunity for recent college graduates to dedicate a year to full-time service in Baltimore. Volunteers live in intentional community and explore a shared commitment to social justice and a simple and sustainable lifestyle.
Project SERVE volunteers serve full-time with one of Catholic Charities’ many programs in or around Baltimore. Placements vary from year to year, giving volunteers the opportunity to pursue passions in many areas, including immigration services, legislative advocacy, education, homeless services and working with adults with developmental disabilities.
For more information about this year’s available placements, contact our Social Ministry Coordinator.
Learn more about the programs Project SERVE members typically serve with:
Intentional community is more than simply being roommates with one another. As a community, Project SERVE volunteers come together from all different backgrounds to join in a shared life of common purpose. Drawn together by a common desire to work for justice, dismantle boundaries, and deepen understanding, they take part in each other’s experience, committing to a life of mutual understanding and support as they learn and serve together.
As a community, Project SERVE volunteers share in the following:
The community cooks dinner together at least twice a week. This becomes a time to laugh, to share the joys and struggles of the day and to be present with one another.
Community nights happen once a week and are a time for conversation and relationship-building in the community. These nights offer the opportunity to learn more about one another, to share reflections and insights from your daily experiences and to learn about issues facing the greater Baltimore community.
The community goes on three retreats together during the year, creating time to get away, reflect, pray and process their experience.
A simple and sustainable lifestyle
We encourage volunteers to live a lifestyle of simplicity in solidarity with the communities of people we work among. Volunteers live on a monthly stipend and seek to prioritize relationships in their daily lives. As a community, they participate in economically and environmentally sustainable practices, such as recycling, conserving electricity, purchasing locally-grown food, etc.
To be considered for Project SERVE you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
- Be able to pass a federal background check and pass the National Sex Offender Public Registry screening.
- Have a Bachelor’s degree.
- Be 21-30 years of age.
- Be able to commit to full-time service for 12 months without outside commitments.
Project SERVE does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender identity or expression, age, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation. If you have not already submitted your application, please refrain from submitting any marital status information or information related to religious affiliation at this stage. If you have already submitted this information, please note that Project SERVE does not consider this information in the admissions process.
We are excited you are considering a year spent in community to pursue a shared life of simplicity, social justice and spiritual growth.
We begin accepting applications February 1, and the priority deadline is March 30. After that, applications are accepted on a rolling basis through July until positions are filled. To download our application materials, click below.
Q. When does the service year begin and end?
A. The Project SERVE year runs from the 3rd week of August to the 3rd week of July.
Q. When is the application deadline?
A. We begin accepting applications on January 1. The priority deadline is February 1. After that, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through July until positions are filled. If you are considering applying after the priority deadline, contact our Social Ministry Coordinator to inquire about any open positions. Submitting your application closer to February 1 will allow you the opportunity to interview at the programs that are of most interest to you.
Q. What makes a good candidate for Project SERVE?
A. A strong candidate for Project SERVE possesses the:
- Willingness to learn new skills on the job.
- Flexibility at work and in community living.
- Desire to live with others working for social justice.
- Ability to get along with others from diverse backgrounds.
- Sense of humor.
- Willingness to try new things.
Q. Do I need to be Catholic to do Project SERVE?
A. We welcome volunteers of any or no faith background. We do ask, however, that you come open and willing to engage in dialogue with your community-mates as you each offer what shapes your spiritual lives.
Q. Where do volunteers live?
A. Project SERVE volunteers live in a house together in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore (near downtown). It’s a four-story row house that has individual bedrooms and bathrooms for each volunteer in the program.
Q. What types of job opportunities are available?
A. Each volunteer works in a Catholic Charities program providing service and support to the program and the clients the program serves. The placements vary each year, but past opportunities include working in immigration resources, education, and with individuals and families experiencing homelessness. For this year’s opportunities, see our “Placement Opportunities” section.
Q. What does the stipend include?
A. The stipend includes funding for transportation to and from work and funding for groceries, both of which the Project SERVE community pools together. It also includes funding for individual personal stipends. The volunteers do not pay rent or utility bills.
Q. Will I have health insurance in Project SERVE?
A. Yes! Health and vision insurance is included, with optional dental coverage.
Q. What does the community aspect of Project SERVE involve?
A. In addition to sharing living space and financial resources, the Project SERVE community shares support, time, and lived experiences with one another. Project SERVE volunteers get together once a week for a community night. This time is an opportunity to have fun together, to talk about how things are going in the workplace and/or to learn more about the surrounding community through invited guest speakers. Project SERVE volunteers also cook dinner together at least twice a week.
Q. What will transportation in Baltimore be like?
A. Volunteers get to work by walking, taking the bus, or driving. Project SERVE has two cars that are primarily utilized by the volunteers who work at placements that are outside of the bus lines. Some programs are close enough to walk from the Project SERVE house and others use part of the transportation stipend to purchase a monthly bus pass. There is also a free bus that runs in Baltimore called the Charm City Circulator.
Q. What can I do about my student loans during my year of service?
A. Most federal student loans are eligible for forbearance or deferment during a service year. Contact your loan holder about eligibility and necessary paperwork.