Published: March 3, 2010

The INVST Community Leadership Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder has been involving CU students in community service since 1990, and on March 12-14, alumni of the program will gather in Boulder for a 20th anniversary reunion weekend.

INVST combines community service with challenging courses and practical skills training to help offer a positive professional path to young people interested in social justice, according to Sabrina Sideris, program director of INVST.

"Not too long ago in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama spoke of young people choosing careers in public service after their graduation from college," Sideris said. "And recently at CU-Boulder, Chancellor Phil DiStefano mentioned the importance of CU students serving their communities in the state of Colorado and beyond during his ‘State of the Campus' address. Community service continues to gain recognition on our campus and in our nation as a practice of the responsible citizen."

Up to 16 CU-Boulder students are admitted each year into the two-year program, which is geared toward preparing young people to work to oppose injustice and inequality in political, social and economic structures and institutions. During the program, students serve at least six hours each week with community-based organizations during the first year, and then design, implement and evaluate a community leadership project the second year.

Students in the program also participate in two month-long summer service learning experiences, one domestic and one international, to help them gain "on the job experience" as community leaders.

"In 2002, during a time when war was on our radar and the world seemed a bit topsy-turvy, I discovered the INVST Community Leadership Program, which changed my life and helped me choose my career," said Sara Ford, a CU-Boulder alumna who completed the INVST program and graduated in 2005. Ford now works as a case manager at Ecumenical Refugee Services, a refugee resettlement agency in Denver. "Since its inception, hundreds of students with a vast variety of backgrounds have spread out over the globe with the knowledge and practical skills to be effective and respectful beacons of positive change."

The reunion weekend will include a fundraising gala on Saturday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hotel Boulderado. Hunter Lovins, founder and president of Natural Capitalism Solutions and co-author of the book "Natural Capitalism," will give the keynote address.

Visit for more information about INVST. For a complete schedule of reunion events or to R.S.V.P. for the gala visit or call 303-492-7719.

Sharon Waisman (INVST Class of 2005, left) and Averi Johnson (INVST Class of 2005, right) with a farmer from Tierra Lucero, a non-profit organization in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. (Photo courtesy of INVST).