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Five Ways Drexel Students Can Get Involved with the Community, as Seen at Civic X EarthFest

April 22, 2024

USGA at Civic X EarthFest

USGA representatives operated tables and handed out flyers. 

The Undergraduate Student Association (USGA) and the Climate & Sustainability team both focus on helping the Drexel University and Philadelphia communities, so this year they merged their spring festivals to create Civic X EarthFest.

In the past, both organizations have hosted their own events, but on April 18, they came together to host a block party on the University City Campus. In total, 31 tables represented organizations, initiatives, Drexel units and community partners who welcomed students wanting to get involved in civic and environmental endeavors.

“There was so much overlap with EarthFest,” USGA Civic Engagement Chair Joelyne Jacob, computer science ’26, said. “We [USGA] are handing out flyers about getting registered to vote and we’re all celebrating sustainability because the best way to keep the community together is to talk about issues and how best to address them.”

Despite moving the combined festival to its rain date, plenty of students and community members turned out on Lancaster Walk to learn more about how they can get involved on campus and around the Philadelphia community. USGA brought in musicians who helped get the block party atmosphere going and students sampled snow cones and other treats as they browsed the tables.

“It’s all community and it brings everybody together,” Jacob said.

Looking for a way to get involved in the community? DrexelNow visited Civic X EarthFest and learned about the ways Drexel students are getting involved — and how you can, too.

Kacy Gao giving announcement

Kacy Gao announces the move to organic turf management. 

1. Toxic Free Philly DrexelEcoReps

The biggest news of the day was the announcement that all Drexel green spaces will be transitioning to be maintained organically rather than with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

The group Toxic Free Philly Drexel, which is currently a committee under Drexel EcoReps, has been working with Drexel Grounds for the past two years to eliminate synthetic chemicals on campus, including a 2023 organic pilot, and several students have been researching the progress and results of the project. There have been promising results, including improved grass health, over the past year.

The student group partnered with Toxic Free Philly and Re:wild Your Campus to help make the research and expansion happen. Now, all campus green spaces will be maintained without synthetic weedkillers, fertilizers and pesticides, said Toxic Free Philly Drexel leader Kacy Gao, biological sciences ’25. The goal is to naturally outcompete weeds with biannual aeration, overseeding and more frequent organic fertilization.

Straws in pouches

Plastic-free Philly handed out metal straws. 

2. Plastic-free Philly

This is an initiative launched at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University during the Water Year in 2022. It’s aimed at promoting clean water and replacing single-use plastics with more environmentally friendly options, like metal water bottles and straws, and Plastic-free Philly can often be seen at events around campus handing out metal straws and information about reducing plastic use like they did at Civic X EarthFest.

To help Philly go plastic-free, ANS co-ops Hannah Dominguez, environmental science ’27, and Victoria Rodriguez-Villareal, public health ’25, said being aware of single-use plastics and how you can avoid them is a good start, and you can volunteer at ANS to help their environmentally friendly mission.

students decorating recycle bin

Students decorate recycling bins.


The Sanitation Health Aid Relief Project, or SHARP, is a Drexel student organization that works to raise awareness and ease issues around water, sanitation and hygiene for marginalized populations in Philadelphia and worldwide. Typically, throughout a quarter, SHARP hosts fundraising and kit-packing events, like a recent collaboration with USGA to provide hygiene kits locally in Philadelphia.

Currently, SHARP is hosting a jeans drive, so you can donate a pair of jeans and receive a $20 coupon to Madewell.

4. NextGen America

You’ve probably seen NextGen America’s voter registration setup on campus before — the organization sets up by the Mario the Magnificent statue at 33rd and Market streets to help students register to vote. NextGen America focuses on making voter registration easy and straightforward and works to educate college students on how to register where they go to school. The organization is developing a Drexel chapter, which is planned to be up and running on DragonLink by fall. If interested in learning more, or getting involved with Nextgen America at Drexel University, contact Hank Greenberg at 973.650.1293, or

5. Cradles to Crayons

Cradles to Crayons isn’t specifically on Drexel’s campus, but students are encouraged to volunteer by themselves or with a group — community engagement coordinator Emily Jones said they’ve organized clubs and Greek Life organizations in volunteering at The Giving Factory in East Falls.

Cradles to Crayons is a nonprofit that serves kids in the greater Philadelphia area by collecting and providing everything they need to thrive at home, at school and at play. Volunteers are often working at The Giving Factory checking the quality of donations like books, clothes, toys and other items. They receive a lot (but they’re always accepting new and gently used clothing of all sizes!), and it needs to be turned around quickly.