Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL)

The mission of COOL is to educate, connect and mobilize college students and their campuses to strengthen communities through service and action. Through volunteer service, students learn lessons that are difficult to convey in the classroom--values such as service, commitment to society, and a sense of community.


Campus Outreach Opportunity League was founded in 1984 by a recent graduate of Harvard University. The organization is commonly referred to as the COOL club on college campuses. The major premise was that college students are not as apathetic as commonly perceived by the public. Instead, Cool´s founder believed the majority of students want to get involved in the community but lacked the support from their respective campuses. There are three values that guide COOL: student voice, social justice, and inclusiveness. For 20 years COOL has been a major force behind improving civic engagement on college campuses at a student level (COOL).  

COOL's Mission

"The mission of COOL is to educate, connect and mobilize college students and their campuses to strengthen communities through service and action (COOL)." This nonprofit organization works to encourage development of campus infrastructures, resources, and support for civic engagement. COOL aims to mobilize institutions of higher education and students to "truly engage their physical, intellectual and material resources in building strong, safe, and healthy communities with equal opportunities for all (COOL)." The organization is based at a student level to impact and connect institutions of higher education and the committee (COOL).

Action Without Borders runs a web site located at Soon COOL´s website will be located at there as well. In fact, Action Without Borders and Campus Outreach Opportunity League have merged (COOL). Action Without Borders runs an online network of nonprofit and volunteer resources that connects people, organizations, and resources and these are the key components of the Action Without Borders mission. The staff at has been serving this mission since 1995 when they were commissioned to build a "one-stop shop" for the nonprofit and volunteer communities (idealist). This is an important merger because it exemplifies a trend in the entire nonprofit sector that will allow less money to be spent and more students to be helped.

Historic Roots

Campus Outreach Opportunity League was one of the first organizations to recognize the need for the campus and the community to encourage and become actively involved in student activism and engagement. Wayne Meisel, COOL´s founder, wanted to develop an organization equivalent to an NCAA for service (COOL). Wayne Meisel believed that students were not apathetic or lazy; instead he believed students were unsure of how to become involved in the community (Krehbiel and MacKay). In 1984 Meisel started the COOL initiative with the grand gesture of walking from Maine to Washington D.C. On his travels he visited over 70 college campuses. Meisel saw a need and a potential for a national student movement (COOL).

In 1985 there was a surge of organizations whose goals were and are to support an organized student voice. These organizations are some of the very familiar names we hear today, such as Campus Compact, Oxfam America, and Youth Services America. By 1987 COOL had connections and was working with over 450 intuitions of higher education. Early on, COOL developed model programs, resources, curriculum, and strategies to encourage service on campus. Publication of materials, resources, and curriculum still remains a priority for COOL (COOL).

As the Civic engagement movement continued to grow, its administration, various universities, and communities began making bigger steps towards the growth of volunteer programs. In 1999, the presidents of several colleges and universities participated in a bold and important move for COOL and other organizations in the service genre. "The Presidents fourth of July Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education" was an initiative of Campus Compact to articulate the commitment of higher education to service (Caron 1999).

In early 2004 COOL took advantage of the growth within the sector and merged with Action Without Borders "Helping students get engaged in improving communities and considering ways to stay involved throughout their lifetime (COOL)" is the common purpose between the two organizations. COOL´s experience in resource development and training will form a successful marriage with Action Without Border´s vast on-line network. COOL´s resources, web-tools, national network, and curriculum are now provided free of cost as an attribute to the merger with Action Without Borders (COOL).


COOL provides technical assistance to universities starting volunteer programs, awards/grants/fellowships, and workshops/conferences (Krehbiel and MacKay). The COOL Engagement Curriculum provides administrators and students with the tools needed to begin the process of social change. Advocacy 101, Acting Up: Action Plan Development, and Dimension of Leadership: Negotiating Choices and Relationships are just three examples of the over 50 curriculum modules COOL has developed over the course of its existence. One of COOL´s publications, the Five Critical Elements of Community Service, has been incorporated and used as a shaping device for many existing campus programs (COOL).

COOL, Campus Compact, and other community service organizations are a part of what many call the main charge of American education--cultivating the character and civic commitment of students. Through volunteer service, students learn lessons that are difficult to convey in the classroom--values such as service, commitment to society, and a sense of community (Krehbiel and MacKay). The potential of a national student movement that Wayne Meisel saw and helped build in 1984 seems to have been a prophetic vision of what was to come in civic engagement.

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

The Carnegie Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trust are examples of some of the major philanthropic funding sources involved in service learning and civic engagement movement in higher education. Organizations like the Campus Compact, that include COOL as one of their resource/national affiliate organizations, must receive grant monies to fulfill their mission (Compact). These national trusts are leaders in funding of education and civic responsibility initiatives. For example the Carnegie Foundation has a project dedicated to "Higher education and the Development of Moral and Civic Responsibility (Carnegie Foundation)."

As a nonprofit organization COOL itself offers scholarships to students and institutes of higher education. The COOL Community Service Award is given to five students and/or campuses across the nation who show a true dedication to student involvement in community service (Coll2Serve). Campus Compact offers two major awards yearly. The Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service Learning, which is given to one faculty member a year as well as the Howard R. Swearer Humanitarian award that five students receive each year. The Campus Compact website also provides a list of other organizations that offer grant money and scholarships (Compact).

Key Related Ideas

Civic Engagement on college campusesis phenomenon that has grown rapidly since the early eighties. An engaged campus creates an environment that encourages service and uses a reflective element so faculty and students learn from their community service actions. Success is possible when there is a commitment from the administration, students, and community members to collaborate (Campus Compact).

Service-Learning is an initiative that has grown in recent years. By connecting service objectives with learning objectives, service learning hopes to make both components stronger. Active learning, skill usage, out of classroom opportunities, and a sense of caring are the major concepts employed in service-learning programs (Service Learning).

Community Service is an idea and expression that seems to define itself. However, Campus Outreach Opportunity league defined "Five Critical Elements" in 1991 to help develop thoughtful service. The five elements adopted are community voice, orientation and training, meaningful action, reflection, and evaluation (Cool2serve).

Important People Related to the Topic

  • Wayne Meisel was the founder of Campus Outreach opportunity league in 1984. Meisel´s work to engage college students civically and politically started a trend that is alive and well today. He has since written two books both on the subject of student service"Building a Movement: Students in Community Service" and "On Your Mark, Get Set, Go: From Student Ideas to Campus Action (Bonners)."

  • Frank Newman (1927-2004) wasthe co-founder of the national Campus Compact (Campus Compact.). Newman worked his entire life to reform higher education and strengthen opportunities for students and communities to collaborate. There has recently been a leadership fund set up to encourage continuation of his life´s mission.

  • Howard R. Swearer (1932-1991) was the 15 th president of Brown University and a Co-Founder of Campus Compact (Compact). Not only did Swearer play a large part in the development of the Campus Compact, he founded a Center for Public Service that holds his namesake at Brown University. Swearer has devoted his career to developing programs that strengthen leadership skills and connect students with the community (Brown).

  • Thomas Ehrlich was part of the initial "Presidential Fourth of July Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education" in July of 1999 (Caron 1999). Ehrlich served as President of Indiana University, Campus Compact Co-founder, and most recently as a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching where he continues his work to advance service learning and civic responsibly (Compact).

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • Campus Compact is made up of a membership of close to 1,000 colleges and universities. Member schools participate in a wide range of activities from collaboration with the community, conference hosting, receiving grant monies, and other state branch activities. Campus compact seeks to not only engage the students but they strive to involve the faculty and administration in a new vision for higher education (Campus Compact).

  • Youth Service America (YSA) is a resource organization that has established partnerships with thousands of other American organizations. Their main objective is to increase the quality and number of volunteer opportunities available for the youth of our country. Every year YSA sponsors the largest service event in the world, National and Global Youth Services Day (YSA).

  • National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness (NSCAHH) was established shortly after COOL in 1986. One of the NSCAHH goals is to help students, communities, and universities collaborate on effective campaigns. NCSAHH has been an important helping agent behind campuses in sponsoring National Hunger and Homeless awareness weeks.

  • The American Democracy Project was created by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The project works to promote undergraduate community engagement. Extracurricular involvement, community service, and voting are some of the activities the project sponsors and advocates (AASCU).

  • Alpha Phi Omega is a co-edservice based fraternal organization.They strive to assemble college students in a fellowship built around leadership development, providing service to humanity, and to acknowledging our national freedoms. Alpha Phi Omega is currently the "single most representative undergraduate intercollegiate organization "as well as being able to boast a 75 year history ( APO).

  • AmeriCorps proudly serves over 50,000 Americans a year in service programs. College students may apply to be part of the AmeriCorps Vista program, which is an intensive service opportunity that last a full year. AmeriCorps is also part of the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps).

Related Web Sites

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) can be accessed at It provides resources for administrators, faculty, and student affairs personnel. The site has much related information and provides an actual civic engagement page.

National Service-Learning Clearinghouse provides a service learning glossary, history lesson, list serve, hot topics link, and more. The resource and tools that make up this clearinghouse are located at

The National Service Resource center is located at This site is another great resource site and tool for those interested in service and engagement. The highlight of this site is an incredibly powerful search engine of national service and volunteer organizations.

The Civic Education Network is part of the American Political Science Association. This network was developed as a way to assist fellow professionals in finding essays, organizations, teaching resources, and data on civic engagement. These resources and more are available at Without Borders is the website as well as the organization in this case and can be found at This organization/website has countless tools including job searches, articles, and products. This is a very important link because of COOL´s recent merger with Action Without Borders.

Bibliography and Internet Sources

Action Without borders/ How we got here. Accessed 2 October 2004.

Action Without borders/ Mission. Accessed 2 October 2004.

Brown University . Swearer Center for Public Service. Accessed 2 October 2004.

Campus Compact. COOL Community Service Awards. Accessed 2 October 2004.

Campus Compact. Our Funders. Accessed 2 October 2004.

Campus Compact. The Howard R. Swearer Student Humanitarian Awards. Accessed 2 October 2004.

Campus Compact. The Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning. Accessed 2 October 2004.

Campus Outreach Opportunity League. About COOL. Accessed 1 September 2004.

Campus Outreach Opportunity League. COOL Merges with Action Without Borders/ . Accessed 1 September 2004.

Campus Outreach Opportunity League. Timeline Accessed 1 September 2004.

Campus Outreach Opportunity League. Tool and Resources. Accessed 1 September 2004.

Campus Outreach Opportunity League. Thoughtful Service. Accessed 2 October 2004.

Genereux, D., Huntsburger, B. "Service Matters the Engaged Campus." Campus

Compact Higher Education in Service to the nation, by Barbra Caron. Campus Compact, 1999.

Krehbiel, Lee, MacKay Kathleen. "Volunteer Work By Undergraduates. ERIC Digest." ERIC clearinghouse on Higher Education [Database online]. accessed 26 September 2004. Available from the Catalog at Grand Valley State University Libraries.

Service Learning Clearinghouse. Service-learning. Accessed 2 October 2004.

The Bonner Foundation. Wayne Meisel Profile. Accessed 26 October 2004.

The Carnegie Foundation. Higher Education and the Development of Moral And Civic Responsibility . Accessed 2 October 2004.

This paper was developed by a student taking a Philanthropic Studies course taught at Grand Valley State University.