Holy Cross in the Community

Holy Cross is an integral part of the community of Worcester. We are actively engaged—particularly with our nearest neighbors on College Hill and in South Worcester—in making our city an even better place to live, work, and raise families. 

As a member of the Colleges of Worcester Consortium, we work collaboratively with the City of Worcester and the business community whenever possible to promote local economic development.  In addition, through a variety of academic, civic and service activities, our students, faculty, and staff are involved—on many levels—in the daily life of the City of Worcester.

The College’s work in this area has been formally acknowledged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which included Holy Cross as one of the 195 colleges and universities in the nation in its Community Engagement Classification.  The classification—which comes only after a rigorous application process—recognizes campuses for strong curricular engagement, outreach initiatives and effective community partnerships.

Every day, academic internships, summer internships, social justice opportunities, and community-based learning courses bring Holy Cross students Worcester’s into local churches, municipal offices, senior centers, museums, shelters, parks and recreational spaces, schools, and neighborhoods.   

Key Initiatives

The College undertakes major institutional initiatives, concentrating on areas in which we have significant experience, notably infrastructure development and education.

Community and infrastructure development

  • Joined with the 10 other members of the Colleges of Worcester Consortium in pledging $190,000 a year to support operations and secure the success of the newly restored Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Worcester.
  • Made a strategic investment of $25,000 to leverage City and grant funding to increase the capacity of the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corporation (SWNIC) to address housing, economic development, and quality of life issues; also guaranteed two loans totaling $1.4 million to SWNIC, enabling it to access capital to build 12 units of affordable condominium housing.
  • Contributed $20,000 to the City to develop a master plan for Cookson Park, an overgrown, underutilized 19-acre tract of urban open space in the College Hill neighborhood. Volunteer students and staff of Holy Cross also help with yearly cleanup and maintenance of Cookson Park.


  • Cofounded with the Society of Jesus of New England the Nativity School of Worcester, an all-scholarship middle school serving boys in grades 5-8 from the City's most vulnerable neighborhoods. The College and its students, parents, staff, and alumni have provided support on many levels, and cash contributions from the Holy Cross Jesuit community have totaled more than $713,000.
  • Holy Cross made a 5-year, $400,000 commitment to support the Library Express, a state-of-the-
    art mobile library serving Worcester’s communities.
  • Creating the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning, which since 2001 has offered more than 2,500 students the opportunity to integrate classroom study with immersion in the real world. Virtually every academic department has offered community-based learning courses ranging from environmental chemistry to public history to faith and social change.
  • Established a financial aid initiative for Worcester residents:  Enrolling students from households with annual incomes below $50,000 receive four years of free tuition. The program enhances the established program of alumni-funded scholarships for Worcester students.

2013 Holy Cross in the Community Report