Student Involvement

This is the real stuff, you know? It really does feel like my second home.

- UNC Junior

The Jackson Center, in guidance and vision from Northside neighbors, has been doing work to connect students and long-term residents since the late 2000’s. We have expanded and deepened partnerships with student organizations to build opportunity and capacity, allowing organizations to create more leadership opportunities for students to connect other students in service with Northside. Year after year students participate in dynamic and immersive learning of the history and legacy of Northside; a classroom without walls. Students have been part of the neighborhood for decades including standing alongside neighbors in the fight against Jim Crow segregation of the 1960’s. Students have planned celebrations in honor of neighborhood service leaders, raised funds to support our local food ministry, and developed the record high participation of students at neighborhood events. So many times we here from our neighbors “I don’t know what has happened but these students this year have been the best we have ever had!”

Each year the Jackson Center works with over 300 UNC students who volunteer their time and service in Northside/Pine Knolls. We call our volunteers “service partners because they are truly or partner with the Jackson Center staff and neighbors to achieve community goals. Service and helping your neighbor is in the spirit and history of Northside. UNC students serve in a variety of opportunities such as:

  • Direct Service fighting food insecurity in our local community at Heavenly Groceries/Comida Celestial Food Ministry at St. Joseph’s C.M.E church. Service partners participate in food pick-ups, sorting and unloading food, and distribution to 60+ patrons Monday-Friday.
  • Processing the over 200 Oral Histories in the Marian Cheek Jackson Center Oral History Trust.
  • Hand delivering the Northside News, our community newsletter, to the over 800 households in Northside and Pine Knolls.
  • Participating in home repair builds in partnership with Habitat for Humanity “A Brush With Kindness” program.
  • Partnering in completing our Neighborhood Census via door-to-door conversations with the diverse population of neighbors at over 600 households.
  • Organizing community clean-up days.
  • Assisting with planning and supporting our annual Northside Festival celebration, a neighborhood festival with 400 of our closest neighbors in late April/early May on the lawn of St. Joseph C.M.E.
  • Volunteer support with the Good Neighbor Initiative Walk-Around, Block-Party, and newly formed Late Night Neighborhood Advocacy.

"My motivation was that I wanted to come back and serve, not with any expectation but just to meet some of the people that are part of the Chapel Hill community. I’m not saying students ignore Northside, but sometimes we can look over and act like the neighborhood isn’t part of what Chapel Hill is."

- UNC Junior, Focus Group Member, and Heavenly Groceries volunteer

SLG members Kevin Giff and Carson Ellerby with 2016 Jackson Center Americorps VISTA Zach Kopkin celebrate the success of the 2016 May Day Celebration.

The Student Leadership Group (SLG) is a coalition of student residents and partners dedicated to realizing and sustaining the  power of the UNC Student Body to connect, engage, and mobilize shared interests of Northside Neighbors.  These 12-15 students focus on three priorities:

  • Share our experiences and perspectives as UNC students living in Northside and Pine Knolls
  • Learn the history, challenges, and current pressures that historically and currently affect Northside
  • Conceive role students play and have played in fighting  for the sustained well being of this community.

The student leadership group has taken on leadership as members of the planning team for the  Northside Festival, hosting block parties and pop-up cookouts at their homes in Northside, attending and organizing other student neighbors for community meetings around housing and development that affect Northside, and building partnerships with their own landlords for the shared interest of Northside Neighbors.

Information about the 2018-2019 Northside Student Leadership Group and an online application are available by clicking on "Jobs and Opportunities."

2016 Summer Fellows: Naomi Robalino, Gizelle Weathers, Sam Christensen, William Page, and Sierra Dunne

Jackson Center Summer Fellows: The Jackson Center had its inaugural student community engagement fellowship program in the summer 2016. Fellowship positions aimed at improving off-campus housing relations, planning the Good Neighbor Initiative events, building student systems of support for student volunteers and student residents, and growing the unique university-community partnerships.  Summer Fellows are committed to deepening UNC’s ties to Northside and strengthening support for our ongoing student engagement work. Our 2016 Summer Fellows have remained significant student leaders in Northside.

"I hope that more students in the future know about the existence of this place and take the time to learn about it because I think it's really important to know the history of where you are."

- Heavenly Groceries Volunteer

Every year, the Jackson Center partners with dozens of UNC departments to provide students with concrete, real-life opportunities to apply the skills they learn in the classroom. In 2016-2017 academic year we partnered with over 10 successful partnerships.  Students in these courses received training and class sessions at the Jackson Center. They then worked together with staff and intern leaders to complete projects throughout the semester. Each project was supplemented by critical reading and reflection support provided by both their professors and our staff team. The students’ work this year focused on Food Justice, Oral History, Community Engagement, and Student-Tenant support and safety.

Course Partnerships in 2016-2017

  • American Studies 398
  • Communications 625
  • English 271
  • History 070
  • Journalism 272
  • Public Policy 393
  • Nutrition 245
  • Sociology 273
  • English 129
  • Honors 353

"If I hadn't signed up for that one class and I hadn't chosen the Jackson Center then my entire first year at Carolina and my entire time at Carolina would have been completely different..I think I've just been really incredibly lucky to get to know what Northside is: where it is, what it is, and what the Jackson Center has done to try to preserve the history here. And I'm excited to help continue that and help other students learn about it for the next few years."

- UNC Sophomore Communications Major