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York Road Initiative offers local service opportunities to Loyola students

Loyola students abandon their numerous homework assignments and extra curricular activities to travel around Baltimore, participating in service opportunities to aid those in need.

One community service program is the York Road Initiative. The program was organized as a result of President Brian F. Linnane’s desire for Loyola students to be better connected with their surrounding community. This desire came after seeing the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrina.

The York Road Initiative is part of a group of initiatives that are a part of working toward accomplishing Loyola’s goal of becoming “the nation’s leading Catholic comprehensive university.”  Marie McSweeney, program coordinator, said, “Loyola is only one of many voices working together in a strong network of partners that connect and share resources to grow a healthy York Road.” The plan for initiatives, Grounded in Tradition and Educating for the Future, includes programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. The initiatives include the establishment of living learning communities for all first years, enhancing and enriching natural sciences, enhancing the global studies program and more. Not only does the plan encompass student activity, but faculty involvement, community service and athletic program involvement as well. The plan for the initiatives began in 2008.

The York Road Initiative, directed by Erin O’Keefe, strives to improve the lives of people living and learning in the York Road area. Loyola students and faculty (especially those from the Sellinger School of Business and Management, the School of Education, the Clinical Centers at Belvedere Square and the Center for Community Service and Justice), collaborate to develop ways to help those living in the neighborhoods along York Road. McSweeney said “We’re not here to say, ‘Hey, we’re academics up here in our ivory tower, don’t worry, we got it’ we’re here to ask how we can serve the wants and needs of the community as an institution. Our mission at the York Road Initiative is to collaborate with neighbors and partners to produce positive change in our York Road community.”Our university is situated closely to the area, granting us a certain obligation to reach out and try to make as much of a difference as we can.

Over these past few years Loyola students have achieved many accomplishments through the York Road Initiative. The achievements include, but are not limited to: rebuilding over 20 homes, implementing technology into the lives of senior citizens with the Senior Network of North Baltimore, saving containers of landfill on Earth Day and brightening up the community by painting fire hydrants and planting a variety of beautiful flowers. McSweeney said,

“Many students don’t realize just how much there is available in our neighborhood and how kind and appreciative community members are of the service we do to help beautify the corridor.Neighbors will stop to say ‘Thank you’ or go home, grab some tools and jump right in!”

This semester, the York Road Initiative is focused on three volunteer activities including planting flowers, involvement with local churches and schools and maintaining an urban forest. All who are interested must attend a Community 101 session, which are to be held on March 24, March 26, April 7, April 14 and April 22.

McSweeney explained, “I said it before, and I’ll say it again – while students are here on campus at Loyola, they’re a part of not only the Loyola community, but the communities and neighborhoods of Baltimore City. There is so much opportunity to explore Baltimore outside of the Inner Harbor and the Towson Town Mall, and some of the best stuff is right around the corner from campus!” Getting involved with this program will not only better the lives of those who are less fortunate, but will enable us to explore the Baltimore area and remind us of what it means to exercise and practice the very values we learn everyday here at Loyola.

More information can be found at


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York Road Initiative offers local service opportunities to Loyola students