This group of students is doing something amazing

IvyCORPS is the next big thing at Cornell – and the students involved are just getting started

It really is no surprise that Cornell has no shortage of community organizations, from the ever-present APO to College Mentors for Kids, but there’s a new organization on campus that’s filling a different niche.

Ivy Community Outreach and Public Service (IvyCORPS), is a student-run, inter-Ivy initiative that was created as the philanthropy division of the Ivy Council, a student union for all eight Ivy League schools. IvyCORPS was first founded in 1999, but it has been dormant in recent years until it was brought back earlier this school year. Alyson Kim, the junior who is currently spearheading IvyCORPS, recreated IvyCORPS because she thought that the resources available to Ivy League students should be used for  a greater purpose and to benefit the public.

IvyCORPS will be kicking off in Manhattan this summer

This June, IvyCORPS will be launching its first annual Summer of Service in New York City, and it will consist of multiple events, from college workshops and SAT tutoring to the Days of Service, where participants will be working with different agencies in New York to deliver food and care packages to people who are homeless around the city.

I spoke with Alyson and George Mao, who is organizing the Days of Service, about IvyCORPS.

Why did you decide it was time to bring back IvyCORPS?

Alyson Kim: IvyCORPS is a very special project for me, because I have spent the entirety of my college career with the Ivy Council, uncertain of its purpose. Why do we bring together 8 of the most prestigious universities in the country every year? For me, to come together to empower those around us was that purpose. Our respective institutions provide us with a plethora of resources to better ourselves.

Why did you choose to join IvyCORPS?

George Mao: After serving as a leader in multiple community service clubs throughout high school and my first few years here at Cornell, I have raised money for so many charities I’ve lost count and contributed to my local communities through many small events. But I never got to see exactly how this money affected lives, and I yearned for an opportunity to make a large-scale, direct impact on my society. The IvyCORPS has been this opportunity. We are enacting a massive service initiative by helping not only the homeless but also high school students and pediatric patients all across Manhattan, the bustling heart of America whose famed lights overshadow the underlying needs of many who live there. Surrounded by fellow students who have hearts larger than life and relentless initiative, serving in the IvyCORPS has inspired me to do better for the world and be fearless in achieving my goals.

What do you hope for IvyCORPS to become in the future?

AK: I hope that IvyCORPS and the Summer of Service will become a tradition among students, alumni, and faculty of the Ivy League, to come together every year to take what we have to help our communities propel forward.

GM: I would love to see IvyCORPS expand across the nation so that students and alumni from all over can participate. DC and Philadelphia would definitely be two prominent locations for events in the near future. I hope IvyCORPS can be a medium through which people rekindle their service spirit, something I think is so often lost once people get to college and lose sight of the world outside of campus. Especially at the Ivy level where students are so career-driven, we take for granted just how privileged we are and just how many resources we have to make a real change. Even a little effort from many individuals would make a big impact on those who need it the most.

Cornell is home to the flagship chapter of IvyCORPS

The spirit of service and initiative are at the heart of IvyCORPs, which will be expanding to the other seven Ivy schools in the fall. There are also plans to further expand IvyCORPS later on down the line, to include events across the nation, to cities like Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles. Lofty goals? Perhaps, but also a testament to the dedication to public service.

Any Ivy League students or alumni who will be in or around New York City this summer are encouraged to apply and participate, and more information can be found on the IvyCORPS website.