New Phoenix Serve platform helps Elon students manage service opportunities

The community engagement platform is available for the campus community and is managed by the Kernodle Center for Civic Life.

At the beginning of the fall semester, the Kernodle Center for Civic Life launched its new volunteering platform, Phoenix Serve, to connect students, staff and faculty with service opportunities.

The community engagement platform can be used to create and find service opportunities, to approve service hours, and to track the impact of volunteer hours. The platform was created through GivePulse, a company that works with college campuses to connect students with their communities. The platform was launched at the start of the semester and branded as Phoenix Serve.

Kyle Anderson, assistant director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, explained the importance behind the name of the service.

“We’re calling it Phoenix Serve because it connects with Phoenix Connect,” he said. “It’s not a competing platform, but a complementary one. The platform allows us to go deeper and have some things tailored towards service and volunteering.”

The service opportunities that are published on Phoenix Serve are replicated on Phoenix Connect, which should make it easier for organizations to find volunteer opportunities.

Among the opportunities this fall was working with Elon Votes!, which promoted civic engagement and assisted with voter registration.

“There’s a lot of organizations that require students to track their service hours,” said Anderson. “This electronic process is way easier than the traditional pen and paper system. There’s an app attached to the platform as well, so students can track their hours from their phone.”

Faculty or advisors for student groups are able to approve students’ hours, when in the past, all service hours had to be approved by the Kernodle Center.

Another purpose of the platform is to eliminate potential barriers that may inhibit students from volunteering. Students who are not directly involved with volunteer organizations are able to search and sign up for service opportunities on the platform, which previously was not possible.

Anderson emphasized the importance of making service opportunities widely available, especially in a semester where they were not as common.

“Unfortunately, there were not as many in-person service opportunities available this semester,” he said. “A lot of the events that did happen had to look different because we want to protect our students and our community.”

Many of the volunteer events this semester took place outdoors or virtually. In September, Campus Kitchen organized a Rise Against Hunger meal-packing event, which allowed volunteers to package meals in a physically distanced setting.

The Center also works with America Reads, an organization that gives Elon students the chance to mentor and tutor K-12 students in nearby schools. As many schools have transitioned to virtual learning, the mentorships have also moved to an online setting.

“We’re trying to help kids and their families as much as we can,” said Anderson. “We’re offering support and helping where we can, but our first priority is safety.”

The Kernodle Center also focused on the election this year. It partnered with Elon Votes! to host educational events surrounding the debates and the lead up to the election and worked to emphasize the importance of civic engagement and registering to vote.

The Kernodle Center is enthusiastic about Phoenix Serve and the variety of opportunities that it will provide the campus community to serve Elon, Alamance County and beyond.