UMass CESL promotes learning for life-long, engaged citizenship, partnering with communities on and off campus to work collectively for a more just society.

The Boltwood Project

The Boltwood Project, is a student facilitated Civic Engagement program that partners with 14 local organizations serving community members with disabilities. It has been part of UMass for 44 years and is overseen by UMass CESL.

Each semester over 100 UMass students, from many different departments and majors, enroll in the Boltwood Seminar course and participate in weekly service at community sites. In addition, 18 student leaders enroll in the Leadership in Service-Learning course and act as Site Supervisors for their service groups. 

The Boltwood Project Leaders Fall 2015

To apply for the Boltwood Practicum you must attend one of the Info & Interview Sessions

Spring 2016 sessions will be announced in December 2015. They are generally on 2 evenings during the second week of the semester. 

If accepted you will need to agree to:
1. attend the the Orientation Session on Monday evening, date TBA
2. attend all 3 of the Saturday Boltwood sessions, 10:30AM to 2:30PM 
The Fall 2015 sessions are on:
Saturday, October 24
Saturday, November 14 
Saturday, December 5 
3. participate fully with your group, one afternoon or evening each week, in community service at one of Boltwood's community partner service sites. The day and time varies for each site. More details about the site options will be provided at the Info and Interview Sessions.

Click here to read about The Boltwood Project Community Sites for 2015-2016

Questions? Contact us~

The Teaching Team

Boltwood Program Coordinators
Shelby Ripa


Kathleen Burke


Boltwood Graduate Teaching Assistant
Julie Jyringi


Boltwood Project Faculty Director 
Carol Soules, Associate Director of UMass CESL 

Student Leadership in Boltwood
Site SupervisorsReturning Boltwood students can apply to be one of the Site Supervisors who organize and oversee the 18 teams that go to 14 community partner sites weekly, plan the 3 Saturday Boltwood Practicum sessions for over 100 students, and enroll in the Boltwood Leadership course. 
Program CoordinatorsEach year two students, who have previously served as Site Supervisors, are selected to be Program Coordinators. They work with the Faculty Director to oversee the program, oversee the Site Supervisors, and work with the Site Supervisors to plan and lead the seminar sessions. 
Graduate Teaching Assistant: UMass CESL employs a graduate student to work the the Faculty Director to support the Boltwood student leaders and the Boltwood Practicum course, teach the Boltwood Leadership course (Fall) and oversee the Boltwood Leaders' Team Project Independent Studies (Spring).
Over 250 UMass students participate in The Boltwood Project each year!
Over 11,000 students have been a part of this program over 4 decades!  

History of The Boltwood Project

Professor Merle Willmann, founder of the Boltwood Project
For over 40 years UMass has been home to The Boltwood Project, a Civic Engagement course that partners with 12 community programs for people with disabilities. 

Since its inception, the project has been directed by the now retired Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning (LARP) professor, Merle Willmann.  Dr. Willmann initiated the program when he was a young professor who could often be found with students at the café on Boltwood Walk (near the current Rao’s). The first 6 participants in the program were students with whom Merle drank coffee and talked about world affairs, such as the Vietnam War and the student led events surrounding it. In honor of their café association, they named their initiative The Boltwood Project and began their service at the now closed Belchertown State Hospital.  
In May 2012, Professor Willmann, long since retired from LARP, retired from directorship of The Boltwood Project.  UMass CESL is proud to be taking up the mantle from Professor Willmann.  Along with the 20 student leaders of this program we look forward to many more years of continued partnership between The Boltwood Project and the local community.