Office of Community Engagement

Community Engaged Campus - The community engaged campus is driven by the value that arises from mutually beneficial campus community partnerships which incorporate diverse perspectives that strengthen the collective impact on the region. Through the utilization of the GivePulse (YSU PenguinPulse) platform, YSU will collect all community engaged experiential learning occurring both within and outside of the classroom. YSU PenguinPulse serves as the community engagement clearinghouse to enhance communication, collaboration and coordination. The YSU PenguinPulse newsletter showcases community engagement impacts and serves as the source of campus communication for community engagement and partnerships. The Community Partner Advisory Committee provides opportunities for input from community partners and adheres to the value of listening to the needs of the community and addressing needs collaboratively. The Community Engagement Council will lead the development of the YSU application to the Carnegie Foundation Elective Classification for Community Engagement. 

Group of volunteers from YSU

Empowering knowledge to serve the community

The Office of Community Engagement (OCE) is dedicated to the collaboration and creation of community partnerships to positively impact the region. OCE serves as the centralized coordinating structure to enhance communication, connect organizations with the appropriate campus resources to advance collaboration requests, and collect all of the community-based experiences from students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, the OCE works with organizations to secure external funds to support meeting community needs and the people they serve. Led by experienced professionals, the OCE provides support and a variety of services to community organizations and departments across campus.

Assistance to Community Partners

The YSU Office of Community Engagement values its partnerships between community organizations and YSU students, faculty, and staff. Community partners in need of assistance (i.e. volunteers, interns, committee members, etc.) can express their needs here.

To support Youngstown State University’s mission and core values, the goals of the Office of Community Engagement include:

  • Working with community partners to identify needs in the community and strategies for addressing such needs
  • Tracking the community impact of our students, faculty and staff via YSU PenguinPulse, our community engagement platform
  • Incorporating community engagement and experiential learning into the YSU curriculum
  • Communicating the value of community engagement for all participants
  • Pursuing and securing funding in support of university and community priorities
  • Leading the institutional goal to achieve the Carnegie Foundation Elective Classification for Community Engagement
  • Developing the framework to optimize, coordinate, and manage community engagement

Carnegie Foundation Definition of Community Engagement

Community engagement describes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.

Service Spotlight

Youngstown State University alumni chapters across the nation actively participated in National Volunteer Week, held April 20 - 27. Dedicated to giving back to their communities, YSU alumni and friends from various regions volunteered and showcased their penguin pride through various service...
The Office of Community Engagement and the Sokolov Honors College at Youngstown State University hosted a kickoff event for the new “Road to Carnegie” community engagement exhibit on Tuesday, March 26, at Maag Library on the YSU campus. The exhibit showcases current service initiatives of YSU...
Red Cross club hosts CPR training
FEATURE STORY Story by: Trey Turner, Master of Arts in Professional Communication At Youngstown State University, students are not only driven by academic goals, they’re also passionate about lending a helping hand to the Youngstown community. Jordan Pintar of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, a...
williamson college of business administration
Youngstown State University’s Lariccia School of Accounting and Finance will serve as a site for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and will begin Feb. 2. The program, in which YSU business students and community volunteers provide free tax preparation and filing, requires taxpayers to...
Financial Aid Night
Prospective students and their parents can learn the ins and outs of financial aid at Youngstown State University’s Financial Aid Night 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center on the YSU campus. The annual event prepares incoming college students for the February 1...

“Community engagement” is a broad term that encompasses all forms of collaboration between the university and the community toward a mutually beneficial outcome.

Students, Faculty and Staff:

Track Your Impact

Community Partners:

Request Assistance


YSU PenguinPulse is the university platform for tracking community engagement and connecting individuals with opportunities to serve the community. By joining YSU PenguinPulse, students, faculty, staff, and community partners can:

  • Track and reflect on their impact in the community
  • Organize service projects and events for their course, organization, or area
  • Match with community partners and volunteers that fit an individual’s interests and a partner’s needs

Community partners may request a free account for volunteer management by reaching out to or by using the link below.

Community Partner Assistance Request

How do I log into YSU PenguinPulse?

  1. Go to You can also find the link the Penguin Portal.
  2. In the top right-hand corner, click the user dropdown. Select "Log In."
  3. Click "Login via YSU" and use your YSU username and password (if you are a student / faculty / staff member. Community members will have their own login credentials).

How do I find volunteer opportunities?

  1. From YSU's PenguinPulse page, click on the Events tab.
  2. Click on "Type" and filter for "Volunteer / Service Opportunity."
  3. Scroll the list of opportunities or filter for more specific parameters.

How do I promote a community engagement opportunity on YSU PenguinPulse?

  • Go to, log in, then click on the "Submit Opportunity"" button to fill out a form for your event, or
  • Click on the "Subgroups" tab, search for your YSU college/dept./office/center page, and click on it. Find your page's administrator and click "Message" to tell them about your event to get it added to your area's YSU PenguinPulse page.

How do I track my community engagement?

After registering for a community engagement opportunity and volunteering, log your service by:

  1. Selecting the user dropdown in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Clicking "Add Impact."
  3. Following the prompts as necessary to find the organization you served, mark if your services was attached to a course, add your hours or donation, and reflect upon your experience.

Faculty and staff should also be logging their personal impacts; however, full-time faculty who are already using Watermark to track community engagement do not have to double-track in YSU PenguinPulse. Please just ensure you are checking the community engagement box in Watermark when applicable. 

As a faculty member, how do I track impacts from my courses?

If you'd like to add several impacts for multiple users (i.e., for a community-engaged learning experience in your course), you can bulk import the impacts:

  1. Create a spreadsheet that includes columns for student first names, last names, YSU emails, semester, and hours completed.
  2. Save as a .csv file
  3. Email the .csv file to, along with a description of the community engagement activity, and we will upload your impacts to YSU PenguinPulse.

What counts as an "impact" in YSU PenguinPulse?

An impact can be added for any community engagement activity or university service.

At YSU, community engagement is defined as: Collaboration between YSU and the larger community for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources; most often service toward a community partner or nonprofit.

e.g., Packaging food for families at United Way's Satur-Day of Caring event, serving on the Guinathon team to benefit Akron Children's Hospital, tutoring local grade school students, etc.

University service is defined as: Unpaid time helping YSU areas / departments execute programs for the benefit of the YSU community and its students.

e.g., Volunteering for Penguin Preview Day, showing students how to register during orientation, helping out at a YSU sporting event, etc.

What does NOT count as an impact?

Activities that fall under the category of on-campus involvement should not be added as impacts in YSU PenguinPulse.

On-campus involvement is defined as: Student organization participation / leadership or on-campus events NOT tied to service.

e.g., Attending student organization meetings, athletic events, theater productions, etc., taking on a leadership position in a student organization, planning an on-campus academic or social event with no service component. Such events may be posted as events in YSU PenguinPulse, but they do not count as community engagement.

Where can I find more help with YSU PenguinPulse?


Community Engagement Liaisons and Groups

Campus Liaisons

Campus Liaisons work collaboratively to coordinate community requests to engage.

  • Athletics - Tyler Mettille
  • Office of Community Engagement - Elizabeth Cianciola
  • Sokolov Honors College - Andrea Tharp
  • Student Experience - Caleb Queen
  • Center for Workforce Education and Innovation – David Janofa


Community Engagement Council 

The Community Engagement Council will lead the development of the YSU application to the Carnegie Foundation Elective Classification for Community Engagement.

  • Heather Belgin, Alumni & Events
  • Emilie Brown, College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • Jeff Buchanan, English & World Languages
  • Elizabeth Cianciola, Office of Community Engagement
  • Amy Cossentino, Office of Academic Affairs
  • Jaelyn Farris, Psychological Sciences & Counseling
  • Mollie Hartup, Sokolov Honors College
  • David Janofa, Center for Workforce Education and Innovation
  • Alison Kaufman, Institute for Teaching and Learning
  • Tyler Mettille, Athletics
  • Andrea Tharp, Sokolov Honors College, YSU PenguinPulse
  • Amy Weaver, Nursing
  • Jessie Wright, Lariccia School of Accounting and Finance


Community Partner Advisory Committee

The Community Partner Advisory Committee provides opportunities for input from community partners and adheres to the value of listening to the needs of the community and addressing needs collaboratively.

  • Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown
  • Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley
  • Mill Creek Metro Parks
  • OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children's Center for Science & Technology
  • American Red Cross
  • Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley
  • United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley
  • Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown
  • Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation
  • Youngstown Playhouse

Externally funded initiatives include community organizations and school districts. Through these partnerships organizations are provided with resources to better meet the needs of the people they serve.


The Office of Community engagement provides evaluation, grant, programming, and training services to help organizations grow in Northeast Ohio.

Contact Us

(330) 941-3427   ♦

Melissa J. Chizmar
Program Coordinator, YSU Explore

Kali Davies-Anderson, M.S.H.I.
Program Coordinator, Grants and Evaluation

Elizabeth Cianciola, MS.Ed.
Director, OCE

Amy Cossentino, Ph.D.
Associate Provost, Strategy & Engagement & Dean

Levi Smith
Budget Administrator

Andrea Tharp
Assistant Director, Sokolov Honors College
YSU PenguinPulse