Civic Engagement

The VMI experience emphasizes the value of service by encouraging cadets to serve their communities. Classroom experiences combined with regular participation in community projects develop a strong sense of charity and service to others.

VMI's mission is to produce cadets that "possess a high sense of public service." In pursuit of this mission, VMI cadets, faculty and staff engage in a multitude of civic engagement opportunities through academic, military, and club projects. 

Our aim is that during their time at VMI, cadets will develop a diverse array of experiences and abilities in their academic, extracurricular, and institutional life that will fully prepare them as civic participants in local and global communities.

This mission unfolds in three distinct ways – through the VMI educational model, through community work of clubs, teams and ROTC divisions, and through academic work.

  • VMI’s educational model is unique. The Corps of Cadets are responsible for enforcing and defending the Honor Code, with all cadet activities being lead and determined by regimental and battalion staff.

  • Working with members of the local community is another integral part of the VMI experience. Cadets can participate in service clubs on Post that works with non-profit organizations in the Rockbridge area and beyond. The ROTC branches and various NCAA teams also initiate projects with the local community.

  • Academic departments also maintain working relationships with various community partners to offer fieldwork, research and internship opportunities for cadets throughout the school calendar.

 Two cadets nail a roof truss down during a Habitat for Humanity buildA group of cadets stand behind a sign titled Rockbridge SPCAA group of cadets stand in front of the wooden-frame of a house

Shepherd Poverty Program

The Shepherd Poverty Program is a joint effort by multiple schools to educate their students and to help them actually do something, about poverty in the United States. At VMI, you can learn about poverty by taking the course "The Economics of Human Capability and Civic Engagement." The objective of this class is to use economic reasoning and analysis to understand and evaluate solutions that enhance and develop the human capacity to deal with social issues and the role of civic engagement therein. Interdisciplinary perspectives will be weaved into every aspect of the class content. Topics covered will include domestic and international issues of poverty, education, health, crime & justice, equity, immigration, the role of economic and political institutions, and the arts. To learn more, email Col. Tinni Sen at

Once you have taken this course, you can apply for a paid summer internship working in one of many fields (e.g., law, healthcare, and education) in various parts of the country helping people in poverty. For more information, email Dr. Sabrina S. Laroussi

Fieldwork by Major

Offered by VMI's Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies, ERH 411W Fieldwork projects give cadets an opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom, and to gain experience in either a service-learning project or an internship with a professional or non-profit organization.  In consultation with a faculty sponsor and the outside agency, Fieldwork requires the cadets to create projects that are of both educational value to them and practical use to the organization, business, or agency. This requirement also allows cadets to practice good citizenship and professional responsibility, as well as to learn by doing. Fieldwork is open to all cadets but is required for English majors. 

Featured Stories

Cadets Partner with Community to Create Memoirs 

Fieldwork Puts Cadets in the Community

Cadets, English Faculty Lead Girls' Leadership STEAM Camp

Cadet's fieldwork leads to Fulbright grant and trip to Africa: Ivory Coast Learning: A March Towards Solidarity

Other Civic Engagement-related projects

Applied and Industrial Mathematics


Community service in VMI Athletics' programming

  • Habitat for Humanity: Two separate outings to help build a local home

  • Headlock/Hoops on Hunger: Canned food drive benefitting the Rockbridge Area Relief Association. The Headlock on Hunger and Hoops Against Hunger non-perishable food donation campaigns yielded more than 200lbs of food donated to our local food pantry

  • Hour of Power Relay for Sarcoma Research: Supporting research into the causes and treatment of sarcoma and other rare pediatric cancers
  • Read Across America: Reading to local fourth grade and preschool students

  • Rockbridge SPCA Dog Walking and Cat Socializing: Giving necessary time and attention to our local SPCA animals available for adoption

  • Rockbridge SPCA Cleanup Day: Cleaning the grounds of the local SPCA who relies on the assistance of volunteers to help maintain their property

  • Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Campaign Bell Ringing: the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee manned the Salvation Army Red Kettle for one day at the local Kroger in Lexington.  Groups of two and three worked one-hour shifts to help the longest-running and most successful campaign of its kind raise funds for our local community.
  • South Augusta Youth Baseball Cleanup Day: Painting, washing, organizing and preparing youth baseball fields and facilities for the upcoming season

  • Winter Storm Cleanup: The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams blanketed the community after a big winter storm hit Lexington, shoveling barracks courtyard at VMI and joining the local fire and rescue department shoveling driveways and sidewalks of the elderly and select local businesses.

  • Youth Lacrosse Clinic and Youth Soccer Clinic: More than 200 young athletes have been given the opportunity to learn skills and interact with their favorite athletes through VMI’s free preseason youth clinics.

  • VMI Athletics Participates in YMCA Sports Week

  • SAAC Participates in Local Community Service

The VMI Center for Undergraduate Research (VCUR) is both a program and a centralized office at the Virginia Military Institute with the mission of promoting and facilitating faculty-mentored undergraduate research and fostering the development of a culture of undergraduate research at VMI.  Today’s leaders are increasingly expected to be focused on both globally and civic scales, and to embrace diversity and collaboration.  Consequently, VCUR encourages interdisciplinary undergraduate research endeavors that broaden the perspectives of students and mentors and enable them to make connections they may not otherwise make and, consistent with the “citizen-soldier” aspect of VMI’s mission, endorses service-oriented student projects that benefit society.

For more information, email the Director of VMI Center for Undergraduate Research Col. Scott Frein

When our cadets graduate, they join the ranks of VMI alumni around the world. Our Alumni Association works with over 80 alumni chapters across the United States and abroad. Occasionally, our chapters are involved with community service and philanthropic projects, and we hope that this platform will inform cadets about the opportunities to partner with our alumni volunteers to demonstrate the good that VMI people represent in their communities.

For more information, email Tyler J. Lighton ’15 at