Civic Programs and Initiatives

Columbia Community Service

Columbia Community Service (CCS) is one of the oldest organizations on campus.  Its yearly campaign is a means for faculty and staff to Columbia University to support soup kitchens, after-school programs, and more critical services, through direct financial contributions.  With the University covering all administrative expenses, 100% of the contributions go directly to services.  The grants awarded by CCS are for direct services only, and not for salaries.


During World War II, the Columbia University Committee for War Relief made critical contributions to the United States war effort, including the United War Fund and the American Red Cross. After the war, this group began to focus on helping the local community surrounding the University, which led to the formation of Columbia Community Service. Since its inception in 1946, CCS has helped countless people in the Columbia area by giving substantial grants and providing valuable resources to local community organizations. 

To learn more, please visit the Columbia Community Service Website.

Economic Development

The cultural richness of Harlem, Washington Heights, and surrounding neighborhoods is an essential part of what makes Columbia a great place to work and study.  As the seventh largest private employer in the City of New York, Columbia University recognizes its role as an engine of urban growth.  The Office of Government and Community Affairs maintains relationships with community-based organizations, government officials, corporations, minority entrepreneurs, developers, and related departments within the University.  We work to maintain and expand our knowledge of existing businesses in the local marketplace, and to support area enterprise development in our neighboring communities.  Currently, our economic development work is largely focused on activities related to the University's expansion into Manhattanville.

GCA also works in tangent with, and in support of, the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center, a program of the U.S. Small Business Administration that provides technical assistance to small businesses and non- profits, as well as workforce development for youth and veterans.  The real world experience of the Columbia Harlem SBDC provides Columbia’s student body and faculty members’ opportunities to assist the thousands of small businesses and non-profit organizations within the upper Manhattan community, in addition to providing the Harlem community the benefit of the resources and brain power of a top ranked university.  

Additionally, we collaborate with several community organizations, government entities and University partners to support economic development related programming at Columbia.

Workforce Development

As part of Columbia’s commitment to community engagement, the Office of Government and Community Affairs provides workforce development related technical assistance to community based organizations in support of their missions and objectives.   GCA contributes to and supports capacity building for workforce providers through program enhancement and guidance.   Much of this community capacity building involves staff development, consultation on grant development, and the development of original curriculum materials related to workforce development and emerging career training opportunities.  GCA tracks city, state and national employment projections and hiring trends.  Likewise, we monitor potential city, state and local funding opportunities to strengthen the area’s workforce and to support the creation of job opportunities. 

For information regarding job opportunities at the University-at-large, please visit Employment at Columbia. Information related to Manhattanville-specific jobs and opportunities can be found here.


Together with Columbia University School of the Arts, the Office of Government and Community Affairs, works to enhance community arts partnerships through a number of outreach and education initiatives.  These initiatives include an art exhibition program for local artists, programming with local public and private schools, and many additional collaborations with the rich arts and cultural communities and organizations of upper Manhattan.  Additional information about these programs and initiatives can be found by visiting the School of the Arts Office of Community Outreach and Education.