The SEEDS Project is a diverse, student-run organization that examines the complexities of American society through service, dialogue, and reflection in order to cultivate lives of active citizenship.
What do we do?
The SEEDS Project Leadership Team is fully responsible for planning the recruitment and orientation of participants and developing the alternative break experience for our four annual service-learning trips. We travel to the Gulf Region of Louisiana, the Appalachian Region of West Virginia, and the Detroit area of Michigan over spring break and head into our very own city of Richmond over Fall Break for a week of hard work, thought-provoking education, meaningful reflection, and new friendships. Our trip to Louisiana began in the spring of 2006, in response to Hurricane Katrina, and has continued every year since. In the spring of 2012, we expanded The SEEDS Project to add a second trip to West Virginia, and in March 2017, we were thrilled to add our third trip to Michigan! Each trip now takes about 20-25 students to do service projects, engage with community members, and learn about the local and national social and environmental justice issues that plague people in these communities.
Before the trips we seek to prepare the participants with a general understanding of the issues and areas we are visiting through videos, readings, speakers, and discussions. Through our trips, we aim to combine the knowledge and understanding we have gained on the different trips and share it with our fellow SEEDS members as well as our campus community. The objective of our four trips is to use our model of service-learning and reflection to understand the complexity of social and environmental justice issues in different contexts around the United States. Ultimately, we hope to foster intentional dialogue and active citizenship in the lives of our participants that will positively impact their communities for years to come.
How does our program benefit the university?
We build a community of students who care about a diverse set of social issues in fields such as healthcare, education, politics, economics, and the environment and provide them with an experience that allows them to work alongside the communities who are impacted by these issues. The students are ambassadors of the University of Richmond and bring their experiences in various communities around the United States back to our campus community in the form of conversations and actions. Our mission is to reveal the complexity of the issues plaguing communities in the regions we visit. We are then able to return to campus with a more holistic understanding that we can share with our friends and classmates in an effort to foster dialogues and movements around the issues we explore.
In addition, each year since 2011, we have produced a professional journal publication as a way to compile all of our participants’ final reflections from their trip experiences. We share this journal with our participants, their families, our community partners, donors, and our campus community at large.
How does our program benefit Richmond?
The SEEDS Project’s Fall Break trip is in the city of Richmond itself in order to allow past participants to make connections between the issues prevalent in the communities we visit over spring break and the issues that impact our own city. Our goal is to apply our service-learning and reflection practices to understanding our individual relationship with on our own community.