Announcing the 2020 Community-Engaged Learning Award Winners

The Community-Engaged Learning Program in the Center for Social Impact is delighted to announce the 2020 recipients of individual achievement awards. Each year, the Center for Social Impact honors a faculty member, community partner, and student to recognize outstanding achievement and dedication to community engagement and community-engaged learning. Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

The Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx S.J. Award for Faculty Excellence in Community Engagement is presented to Dr. Peter Bayers, PhD, Professor of English and Director of the American Studies Program. This award is named in honor of Fr. von Arx, Fairfield University’s eighth president, in recognition of his commitment to advancing community engagement in higher education. The award acknowledges the outstanding work of a member of the Fairfield University faculty whose efforts have advanced the collaborations between our institution and the broader communities of which it is a part, “for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity” (NERCHE).

Dr. Bayers’s community-engaged work has focused on his partnership with Simply Smiles, a nonprofit based in Connecticut with deep ties to communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota. Since 2014, Dr. Bayers has led groups of students, fellow faculty, and staff on community-engaged learning experiences to work with the Lakota community in La Plant, South Dakota. Dr. Bayers has dedicated a remarkable amount of personal and professional time and energy to the community on “the Rez” and to Simply Smiles as an organization, currently serving on their Board of Directors.

As a former student and current colleague wrote, “[H]e is an indefatigable ally to indigenous communities and a passionate defender of equity. By sparking lively classroom discussions and leading engaging hands-on service experiences, Peter encourages his students to become curious, empathetic, and active citizens of the world.”

Click to learn more about the work of Simply Smiles and Fairfield University on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation.


The Outstanding Community Partner Award is presented to the Green Village Initiative, a Bridgeport-based non-profit whose mission is “to grow food, knowledge, leadership and community, through urban gardening and farming, to create a more just food system in Bridgeport.” The Outstanding Community Partner Award recognizes a particular partner organization or individual who has advanced the mission of community engagement at Fairfield University in an exceptional way.

Since 2015, Green Village Initiative (GVI) has partnered with multiple community-engaged learning courses and has welcomed numerous volunteers from the Fairfield University community. More recently, GVI has been an integral partner in the establishment of the Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) Program in the Center for Social Impact. In 2017-2018, students and faculty partnered with GVI to analyze and quantify the impacts of community gardens in urban neighborhoods. This project resulted in the establishment of the partnership Community Agriculture Research: Raising Opportunity Together (CARROT). In 2020, students and faculty collected oral histories and recipes from community garden leaders throughout Bridgeport, resulting in a digital archive of articles and an interactive cookbook.

This award recognizes in a particular way the work of Cristina Sandolo, GVI’s Executive Director. Cristina has served on numerous committees and has been a dedicated thought partner and advisor to community engagement initiatives at Fairfield.

Click to learn more about the economic impacts research or the oral history and cookbook project.


Luckario Alcide ’21 has been selected as the 2020-2021 Fairfield University Newman Civic Fellow. The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year experience that provides students with training and resources that nurture their assets and passions to help them develop strategies for social change. Through the fellowship, the national organization Campus Compact provides in-person and virtual learning opportunities focused on the skills fellows need to serve as effective agents of change in addressing public problems and building equitable communities.

Luckario, a communications major and humanitarian action minor, is one of the Humanitarian Action Fellows, and serves on the executive board of the Humanitarian Action club, where he has organized multiple programs and campaigns to raise awareness of crises around the world. Most notably, he leads the club’s annual service immersion program to Abilene, Texas, where Fairfield students serve with the International Rescue Committee and work with recently resettled refugee families. During his fellowship year, he hopes to further develop these service immersion experiences for Fairfield students, to include more rigorous academic content, reflective practice, and advocacy and activism efforts.

In addition, through Center for Social Impact’s Community-Engaged Research program, Luckario currently supports data collection efforts for a large-scale community needs assessment in partnership with the United Way. In the summer of 2018, Luckario worked in Brazil with the rainforest conservation NGO Iracambi as part of the International Internship program. His nominator wrote, “Those who are seeking social justice or are touched by disaster have found a champion in Luckario, who truly embraces the Jesuit ideal of ‘women and men for and with others.’ His passion to work for the underserved and to seek justice has made a strong impact in our community.”

Congratulations to all of our award winners!

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For more information, contact Andrea Canuel / Ext. 3393 /