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 organizations serving community members with disabilities. It has been part of UMass for 44 years and is overseen by UMass CESL.

Boltwood students enroll in a Civic Engagement seminar course and engage with local community members weekly, at community partner sites.

Interesetd returning students can apply to be Site Supervisors, who organize and oversee the weekly site visits and enroll in the CESL leadership course.

Each year, two students, who have previously served as supervisors, are selected to be Program Coordinators. They work with the Faculty Director to oversee the program, and work with the site supervisors to plan and run the seminar sessions. 

Over 200 UMass students participate in The Boltwood Project each year! Over 11,000 students have been a part of this program over 4 decades!  Check here to read about the  

Boltwood Community Partners

The required Spring 2015 seminar sessions for the Boltwood course will be between 10AM and 2:30PM, on 

Saturday, February 28
Saturday, March 28 
Sunday, April 26 

You must be available to attend these 3 sessions in order to be enrolled in the Boltwood course.

You also need to be avialable one evening a week during the semester to participate in community service at one of Boltwood's community partner service sites, with your team. 

For information about this and other Boltwood activities contact one of the Program Coordinators.

2014-2015 Boltwood Coordinators -

Hannah Michlmayer


Shelby Ripa 


History of The Boltwood Project

For over 40 years UMass has been home to The Boltwood Project, a Service-Learning course that partners with 14 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 16 student leaders of this program we look forward to many more years of continued partnership between The Boltwood Project and the local community.