Pursue Your Passions

Community Engagement  
We're all connected to each other. Volunteering is so much more than "giving back" to someone "less fortunate"; it's about empathizing with fellow members of our shared community.

Community engagement enables us to grow as individuals when we acknowledge others as fellow members of a shared community, not as those less fortunate than us. We encourage our students to reflect mindfully about their place in the world and how to engage with community members in need.

Community engagement is a vital, integral part of a Branson education. We value not only lessons learned in the classroom, but also those learned through real-life experiences. Community engagement requires one's mindful awareness, openness, and willingness to learn from others in order to practice empathy. We hope, through his or her four-year community engagement experience, each student fosters a continuous, empathic awareness of the communities in which he or she lives and strives to make a better world. Practice empathy, mindfulness, and engagement in your local, national, and global communities. 
Click here for a list of student-led programs we offer.  
  • Family Community Engagement Day

    Posted by Bijani Mizell at 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
    Join Branson parents and students this Saturday, March 21st at St. Anthony's (San Francisco) to engage with our homeless community. From 9-11am, volunteers may help the St. Anthony's chef and Dining Room staff prepare the meal of the day, or volunteers may assist the staff at our Free Clothing Store in preparing garments for store display.
    St. Anthony's encourages "solidarity experiences, which will, hopefully, deepen awareness and compassion for the plight of poor and homeless persons. [They] hope to encourage your desire to [engage] and also nourish your commitment to 'create a society in which all persons flourish'" (St. Anthony’s Mission Statement).
    Contact Kim Ghitalia (Parent '18) for more information.  
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  • March Event of the Month: Tennessee Valley Trail Clearing

    Posted by Bijani Mizell at 3/7/2015


    The March community service event of the month will be held on Saturday, March 28 from 10am-1pm, and it will be in coordination with the Golden Gate National Park service in the Tennessee Valley trail area. 

    Sign up here!

    Project Description: Create a world-class trail system for our community to enjoy today and for years to come. Activities include repairing and maintaining trails, constructing new routes, and protecting sensitive natural habitat.

    Meeting Location: Tennessee Valley Parking Lot

    What to Bring:

    • Volunteer Services Agreement: (download here): Please have one person who is over 18 complete one agreement form for the entire group (I will take care of this). Volunteers under 18 require additional Volunteer Services Agreement forms with parent/guardian signature —> ****(If you are under 18, please fill out a form, have a parent or guardian sign it, and bring it to the event.)
    • Bring a reusable water bottle. We’ll have water stations for refills.
    • All necessary tools, supplies, gloves, and training will be provided.

    What to Wear:

    • Wear comfortable work clothes, long pants, and sturdy shoes or boots (NO shorts or sandals).
    • We’ll be working rain or shine. Please be prepared to get dirty and dress in layers for various weather conditions.
    • Bring a hat and wear sunscreen.
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  • February Event of the Month: GLIDE Memorial

    Posted by Bijani Mizell at 2/7/2015


    In addition to serving daily hot meals in their dining room, GLIDE’s Daily Free Meals Program also prepares and distributes bag lunches for community members who may not be able to make it to our meal times. 20 Branson students assembled sandwiches and bagged them up with other goodies like fruits, vegetables and snacks. All together, we made 500 bagged lunches for San Francisco's homeless community. We had a wonderful time working together (in a fun, meaningful way) to address San Francisco's growing hunger problem. If you're interested in volunteering at Glide Memorial on a regular basis, please contact Bijani Mizell, Sam Wilkins or Grace Wilkins to join their program. 
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  • January Event of the Month: Homeless Sandwiches

    Posted by Bijani Mizell at 1/24/2015


    We had a huge turnout for January's Event of the Month: Homeless Sandwiches in SF's Tenderloin. A dedicated group of students (and teacher-extraordinaire Jonas Honick) hand out bagged lunches every Saturday to homeless residents, so contact Mr. Honick if you'd like to join them this weekend. 


    In partnership with her organization Warm1Body, senior Bianca Capretta hosted a fleece scarf-making session during Friday's lunch. 20 students hand-made 42 scarves, which were a much-needed gift to our homeless residents in January. Bianca also packed 50 bags of gloves, hats, and socks. 


    Thanks to everyone who participated!
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  • December Event of the Month: Branson Community Meal

    Posted by Bijani Mizell at 12/19/2014


    Thanks to Grace McCamy-Miller and her family, Branson students and parents organized a fun, healthy meal for 30 members of Marin's homeless community at the Mt. Tam United Methodist Church. In addition to bringing delicious potluck dishes, students got a chance to eat a meal and talk with many of the residents. We learned about their life experiences and discovered how tight-knit the friendships within their community are. 


    If you're interested in participating in the next community meal, please email Grace McCamy-Miller to express interest.
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  • November Event of the Month: Alameda County Food Bank

    Posted by Bijani Mizell at 11/25/2014


    On November 25, our group of twenty students and six teachers/staff members visited the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which services 1 in 5 residents in Alameda County. 


    We packed 26,000 pounds of pears, 5,000 pounds of carrots, and 4,000 pounds of cabbages to the dulcet tones of 70s funk music.


    Most families who need food assistance have at least one working parent or steady income; the gap between living wages and the cost of living in the Bay Area affects more and more families each day. 


    Every $1 you donate turns into $6 for the food bank to spend on local produce and fresh food. You can help make the Bay Area a hunger-free community by volunteering or donating to your local food bank today! 
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  • October Event of the Month: Friends of the Elderly

    Posted by Bijani Mizell at 10/25/2014


    Grace McCamy-Miller, Rosie Hart-Owen, and Bijani visited a lovely woman, Estella Frey, at her home in San Francisco's Richmond district. Despite being 89 and having cerebral palsy (which made it occasionally difficult to understand her speech), Estella was lively, hilarious, and reflective about her rich life. She enjoys taking walks with a friend each Sunday in the SF Botanical Gardens or Golden Gate Park, she plays bingo every Friday, and takes art classes when she can. She's busier than most of us! 


    Friends of the Elderly is a wonderful organization with relatively low commitment. Estella, an SF resident for more than 60 years, has experienced the city's diverse and complex history - it was fascinating to hear her perspective on how our beautiful city has changed. Spend an hour a month with a elder and hear for yourself what wonderful stories they have to share. 
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  • September Event of the Month: Rodeo Beach Cleanup

    Posted by Bijani Mizell at 9/20/2014


    On September 20, 2014, along with other local volunteers, our group picked up 219 lbs of trash and 79 lbs of recycling from the Marin Headlands as part of California Coastal Cleanup Day. Even though we got a little dirty, we had a fabulous time laughing and bonding. Check out that view! 
    Thanks to Surfrider Foundation for inviting us to participate in their beach cleanup. If you're interested in future cleanups, contact Marin Surfrider
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Student Reflections

“I cherish the connections I had with our regulars. Our conversations weren't just passing salutations, but genuine interest in each other's lives."
 *   Michael Petruzzelli ’15, Homeless Sandwiches
“I brought them a meal, but the kindness, politeness, and appreciation that they brought meant so much to me.
 *   Grace Dailey ‘18, Glide Memorial Church
"I helped [teach] a [developmentally disabled] girl, Teagen [how to ride a horse]; she has huge, hopeful dreams for the future. Kind of reminds me of a younger me!"
 *   Chantal Wang ’17, Giant Steps

CE Requirements

Freshmen must complete 5 Core and 10 Support hours, and sophomores, juniors and seniors must complete 15 Core and 10 Support hours each year.

Core = hours spent working directly with people in need
Support = hours spent indirectly helping those in need
Solidarity, not charity.
Engagement means empathy.
"After four years of coaching [my Special Olympics tennis team], I have developed extremely close relationships with two athletes named Quame and Amy. Quame and Amy don't let their [develop]mental disabilities get in the way of anything they do. I have seen them progress into talented tennis players; both have become good friends of mine over the past four years. Each week when I drive away after trainings, Quame yells, “Only a few more days until we get to see each other again!”
 *   Natalie Yates ‘15, Special Olympics 
"Whether it's helping peel an egg for a man with no hands or serving food to a deprived family, I feel an enormous connection and am proud to help out. The “thank yous" and smiles we got really make it feel special."
 *   Max Brenner ’15, Glide Memorial Church
"Over my four years with the program, I have developed friendships with the regulars, which makes the experience more meaningful than just passing out food."
 *   Josh Khoo-Miller ’15, Homeless Sandwiches
"Meeting new people who have been on this world for several of my lifetimes gave me a continued expansion of perspective on how to treat others."
 *   Jack Weinstein ’16, Sonoma Hills Retirement Center

Important Dates

Community Engagement Deadline
Friday, May 8, 2015

Important Downloads

Contact Information

Elizabeth Siarny
Director of Community Engagement
(415) 455-7161
c/o The Branson School
P.O. Box 887
Ross, CA 94957

Branson Coordinated Programs

  • Homeless Sandwiches

    With Homeless Sandwiches, students have the opportunity to make and deliver food to people in the Tenderloin of San Francisco

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  • Sustainable Seas

    Sustainable Seas is a community service program that monitors the rocky intertidal ecosystem at Duxbury Reef in Bolinas, CA.

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  • Vivace

    Vivace is a group of prize-winning classical musicians at Branson who wish to give back to their communities by performing classical music for the elderly and raising funds for children’s organizations.

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  • Canal Childcare Center

    Help kids with their homework, play with them out in the yard, read them stories, play board games, and take field trips to San Rafael High School.

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  • Branson Tutoring

    The Branson Tutoring program is a chance for Branson students to work with elementary and middle school students in San Rafael & Marin City.

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  • Best Buddies

    Best Buddies High Schools pairs students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-to-one friendships with high school students.

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  • Glide Memorial

    Serving a meal in the Daily Free Meals Program is a transformative experience. Volunteers assist with everything from serving food, to bussing tables, to handing out silverware and condiments for up to 2,400 meals per day. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves, and make some beautiful human connections!

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  • Friday AIDS Meals

    Friday AIDS Meals is a program in which Branson students cook and deliver food to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and mental health problems.

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  • Interact

    Each year, Interact clubs complete at least two community service projects, one of which furthers international understanding and goodwill.

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  • LEAP Dance Program

    LEAP is dedicated to providing quality dance instruction to youth ages 5 to 10 years.

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  • SummerAde

    SummerAde pairs high school volunteers with special needs children to aid them during their week at a summer day camp.

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  • CONNECT eTutoring

    CONNECT eTutoring is a program at Branson that wishes to reach out to kids in less fortunate areas around the world and help tutor them in English and math.

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Affiliated Programs