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Center for Civic Engagement Chronicle 2020-2021

The official newsletter of Salem State University's Center for Civic Engagement!

2020 Voter Engagement

Election 2020 was like none we’ve experienced before. With SSU operating largely remotely and a new vote-by-mail process in Massachusetts, the CCE needed to pivot our voter engagement strategies. We partnered with MASSPIRG and helped over 500 students register to vote. Through class visits, tabling, and phone banking, talked to over 1,500 students about voting and making a plan to vote. Over 65% of students voted early and 220 students voted on Election Day.Our first ever SSU Votes Challenge involved 13 student organizations competing for the most voter engagement among their members.

Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics and Civic Engagement

In its second year, the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics (Berry IOP) awarded eight students with a Summer 2021 Public Engagement Internship Stipend of $3,500. The opportunity was available to any SSU student completing an internship or similar experience in politics or public service during the summer of 2021.

On May 4, 2021, the Berry IOP hosted its inaugural event: "The Future of Our Democracy," with CNN’s Abby Phillip and moderated by Karen Andreas, the CEO of  the North Shore Chamber of Commerce. Over 130 people attended the talk and through strategic fundraising, the Berry IOP Board raised more than $42,000 from corporate sponsorships and personal donations. We are grateful for this support and excited to continue to host meaningful political discussions, offer scholarships, and other programs that will prepare students for a career in politics or public service.

Civic Engagement Hall of Fame

The Civic Engagement Hall of Fame is an annual ceremony sponsored by the President’s Office and the CCE that recognizes a Salem State undergraduate student, graduate student, alumna/us, faculty, and staff or administrator who demonstrates sustained commitment to civic action and strengthening the community by identifying and addressing issues of public interest. The 2020 HOF ceremony was sidelined due to the pandemic, so this year we hosted a webinar ceremony to honor our 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees. A $200 donation was made to the community partners our honorees work with.

2020 Inductees include Abigail Mariano, Cleziane Oliveira, Gretchen Sinnet, Provost David Silva, and Pedro Soto.

2021 inductees include Toiell Washington, Sam Lim, Jayashree Ranga, Ronnette Wongus, and Rosario Ubiera-Minaya.

Advocacy in the Classroom 

During the 2020-2021 academic year, the CCE supported faculty interested in addressing social justice issues by presenting workshops in person and virtually that reached over 225 students. These workshops helped students connect course content to their lived experiences, develop a sense of civic agency to influence decision making in their communities, and learn how to connect with elected officials in the advocacy process. The CCE brought these workshops into the community by presenting to several youth organizations as well. If you’re interested in having this presentation done with your class, student group, or youth organization, please email

Advocacy Week 2021: How to Get In Good Trouble

In April we celebrated our 4th Annual Advocacy Day, reimagined into Advocacy Week! The theme of this year’s Advocacy Week was inspired by the late John Lewis, a civil rights activist and Congressman for Georgia. More than 350 people attended, including those from our Salem State community as well as other colleges, high schools, middle schools, and beyond. Advocacy Week included advocacy education, exploration, and action around mental health, immigration, climate justice, gender discrimination, and sexual violence on college campuses. Participants heard from elected officials and advocates from the Massachusetts National Alliance on Mental Illness, Welcome Immigrant Network, Boston Sunrise Movement, End Rape on Campus, and Building Movement Project. The CCE partnered with faculty to host Advocacy Week events during virtual classes and with student organizations to host advocacy programs throughout the week.

2020-2021 Civic Fellowship: Combatting Campus Hunger

This year the Civic Fellows launched a campaign to address food insecurity on campus by researching campus hunger; meeting with campus partners and members of a statewide Hunger-Free Coalition, and connecting with students in other states to learn how their institutions are addressing campus hunger. 

Their efforts included advocating for the Hunger-Free Campus Bill; contacting elected officials; collecting over 100 petition signatures requesting the university’s public support for the bill; meeting with the SSU President who agreed to support the bill; developing student resources; and encouraging faculty to include food insecurity resources in their syllabi.

CCE Grant: Building on the Cultural Wealth of Minoritized Students

The CCE, along with its Equity and Engagement Consortium partners, received a $132,000 Higher Education Innovation Fund grant to build capacity for our campuses to implement practices, pedagogies, and programming for anti-racist community-engaged teaching. A team of faculty and staff, in consultation with students and community partners, are conducting research to develop a statement of anti-racist principles and create corresponding professional development trainings.

Civic Engagement in High Schools

In 2018, an MA State bill (S2631) was passed to promote civic engagement in middle and high schools. The CCE conducted a survey of schools in Massachusetts in order to learn about the next generation of incoming students; identify their civic knowledge, skills, and interests; and help recruit students who are interested in deepening their civic identity. Over 125 people participated in the survey representing 89 schools and 64 towns.

Department of Higher Education: New Undergraduate Experience

The Department of Higher Education is developing a guiding document, currently titled the New Undergraduate Experience, that clearly expresses their collective vision for the cultural, curricular, pedagogical, and structural changes needed to dismantle barriers, recognize students’ cultural wealth, and advance racial equity. It aims to transform Massachusetts public higher education. Salem State and our community partners are playing an active role in this initiative including Cynthia Lynch (CCE Executive Director), Tiffany Chenault (Sociology Professor and MSCA President), Linda Saris (LEAP for Education Executive Director), and Samantha Giffen (CCE Graduate Fellow + Student, HESA M.Ed.).

Thank You!

We are so grateful to everyone who supported the CCE in making this such a successful year. Everything we accomplished was made possible because of our dedicated and talented student staff, Ethan Dean, William Scanlan, Alexis Thomas, Hannah Levine, and Lillien Kelley. Thank you Sara Moore, our faculty fellow, for being a devoted member of our team and driving so many of our initiatives this year. We would also like to thank our Community Partner Advisory Board for continuing to advise us on  community issues that inform our programming and outreach. Thank you also to our Civic Engagement Committee for driving the development of our new strategic plan. Finally, we would like to thank our Berry IOP Board members for their dedication to the mission and development of the new Berry IOP. Our inaugural event was successful because of you.



William Scanlan and Ethan Dean were the Center for Civic Engagement’s first student staff members. This year we say goodbye to them as they graduate, having worked with us all four years of their SSU career. We will miss you and can't wait to see you change the world!


Learn more about the Center for Civic Engagement at Salem State University.

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