Dwight Hall is introducing several initiatives this fall to increase service opportunities and strengthen the relationship between Yale students and New Haven.

In addition to expanding its FOCUS on New Haven preorientation program to include freshmen, Dwight Hall is launching the Dwight Hall Social Innovation Laboratory this fall to provide support for individuals or groups of students looking to develop projects that address a social need. Dwight Hall will also be working with Yale College Council to host a New Haven Fair to introduce students to local organizations where they may volunteer.

“We want Yale students, and especially freshmen, to understand the incredible opportunities that many New Haven organizations offer,” Dwight Hall Co-Coordinator Anthony D’Ambrosio ’18 said. “We’re lucky to spend time in such a vibrant and innovative city, and that sentiment infrequently prevails on campus.”

Through the lab, which launches Sept. 7, students interested in developing their own innovative projects for addressing community needs can apply for funding and mentor support from Dwight Hall. Mentors from the Yale School of Management, Yale Entrepreneurship Institute, Dwight Hall and other local organizations will help lab members plan and execute their ideas, as well as provide specific training for their proposed projects.

The idea for the lab stemmed from an agreement between Dwight Hall students and leaders, as well as other campus partners, that undergraduate students should be able to pursue social entrepreneurship projects with resources from the organization, said Social Innovation Lab advisory board member Simone Seiver ’17.

“Social Innovation Laboratory is Dwight Hall’s way of acknowledging that social innovation is a unique value-add that students can provide to their community,” Dwight Hall International Network Coordinator Keniel Yao ’19 said. “We want to create a culture of serious intellectual and compassionate engagement with the world around us, and a community that is dedicated to more deeply understanding and serving these efforts.”

Lab members will have access to benefits including workspace, grants, regular consultation from an advisor and a showcase event to present their progress to potential investors. Throughout this fall, the lab will host a series of Wednesday evening events and workshops featuring distinguished speakers.

To gain admission to the lab, prospective members must submit a written application and attend several interviews with Dwight Hall staff and student leaders. The first members will be accepted during the spring semester, and students do not have to be affiliated with Dwight Hall to apply.

“Through the incubation and guidance of admitted lab projects during the spring semester, we hope to ensure that students with creative ideas have the opportunity to experiment and even succeed,” D’Ambrosio said. “The lab has been made possible by our fantastic staff and generous donors, and we’re all excited to see what the coming year brings.”

The New Haven Fair, set for Sept. 10, is the product of collaboration between YCC and Dwight Hall after the organization endorsed YCC President Peter Huang ’18 for the position, D’Ambrosio said. On Sept. 10, between 35 and 40 New Haven groups with interests ranging from community service to theater and biking will gather on Old Campus to connect with each other and Yale students.

Dwight Hall Institutional Service Coordinator Abby Troy ’18 and YCC Student Outreach Director Diksha Brahmbhatt ’18 both said it was exciting for the two organizations to collaborate on the fair, as so many of their goals align.

With help from administrators and the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, members of YCC and Dwight Hall reached out to community groups, as well as Yale groups that work in the city, to disseminate information about their goals and meet students at the fair.

“We thought it would be so cool if we had a New Haven fair like the extracurricular bazaar or academic fair, invited New Haven groups on campus for students to feel like the groups are welcome to Yale and show them there are meaningful ways to get involved with them, as you would with any Yale group,” Brahmbhatt said. “Our goal is to combine the spaces and try to merge the two, and this is just one step towards something we hope will continue for a very long time.”