Chico: Community Action Volunteers in Action (CAVE)
Founded in 1887, CSU Chico is the second oldest CSU campus, offering over 100 undergraduate majors and options. The university is a popular Northern California residential campus, with 90 percent of its more than 16,200 students living within a one-mile radius of the campus. With a faculty of more than 1,000, CSU Chico emphasizes academic excellence and close interaction with professors.
Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) is an Associated Students program located at CSU Chico that has been serving the community since 1966. This student-run nonprofit agency offers more than 20 community-based programs to choose from, including those that serve children, the elderly, special populations, adult nonreaders, English as a Second Language learners, and low-income residents in the Chico area, as well as state parks and institutions throughout Northern California.
CAVE is a hierarchical organization where student leaders have increasing responsibility and supervise one another in specific community engagement projects. Most students begin as Group Leaders who recruit, screen, supervise, and evaluate the volunteers enrolled in their specific projects (i.e., Special Pals, Yountville Veterans Home). Coordinators oversee specific projects, supervising group leaders, providing overall direction for the project, and facilitating communication with community partners. Because of the size and scope of CAVE—80 student leaders and over 2,500 volunteer and service-learning students placed annually—an additional level of leadership was established around “program areas” such as Kids Programs, State Facilities, Adult Programs, Service-Learning, Clerical and Events. Student directors oversee each of the program areas within CAVE, providing overall direction and support to all the student leaders in their area.
CAVE is a member of the Associated Students family of programs and, as such, operates as an auxiliary to the university. However, three of the four CAVE professional staff members work closely with campus departments in both the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost to support a range of community engagement opportunities on campus. Student activity fees fund the majority of CAVE’s $384,000 budget; however, the professional staff also seek grants and fee-for-service contracts from sources such as the United Way, Chico Unified School District, Academic Affairs, and more.
The CSU Center for Community Engagement gratefully acknowledges the Surdna Foundation for its generous and visionary support of The Next Stage: Boosting Service Learning to New Heights, three-year grant initiative.