Just as the cold weather started to blanket over Syracuse in October 2007, the idea for a club that would have a profound impact on the Syracuse community and Syracuse University student body was just heating up. After learning about a friend’s involvement in a club formed in the Whitman School of Management where students help local businesses, student Tessa Kurman realized that a similar opportunity for communications students was not available. After sharing the idea with friend Carissa Matthews, the two decided that this void needed to be filled, and spent the rest of the semester laying out the plan for their new student organization, “Communications for the Community,” more commonly known as comm.UNITY.

While starting a new club is not the easiest process, Carissa and Tessa networked across campus, speaking with professors, deans, student affairs, and heads of different academic departments to reach out to the student body to see who would be interested in gaining communications experience while helping local non-profit organizations. During spring 2008, many leaders emerged out of the group to help formulate a constitution, application process, structure for the organization, and more.

It was then that the first order of business was decided: to have a meeting with local non-profits to ask them how exactly we can help, instead of just making assumptions about what kind of services they need. In Early September 2008 comm.UNITY held their first set of forums hosted at the local Syracuse branch of the United Way. The forums helped both comm.UNITY as well as the non-profits better understand one another and the potential benefits of working together in the future. Following the forum the prospective non-profits filled out applications to work with comm.UNITY.

After many eyes reviewed the applications, seven project leaders were matched up with seven local non-profits. Soon after the non-profits were chosen the project leaders formed committees of passionate students eager to help the non-profits of their choice with their respective communications needs and so began the first set of comm.UNITY projects! The next semester two more projects were taken on board, ending comm.UNITY’s first year with nine clients and more than 70 active members.

Since comm.UNITY’s founding year, the organization has helped an additional 10 nonprofit clients, grown in numbers to 100+ active members and made an even greater impact on the Syracuse comm.UNITY. After winning the Macy’s Rising Star Award in April 2009, comm.UNITY has become a student organization to be reckoned with on campus, drawing the attention of Student Association and other organizations interested in collaboration. comm.UNITY has also expanded their services offered to Syracuse nonprofits. In addition to the regular client contracts, comm.UNITY also held two social media workshops open to all nonprofits during the 09-10 school year.

Going into comm.UNITY’s third official year, the organization is looking to expand both across campus and across the city of Syracuse. The future of comm.UNITY is only looking brighter.



At the 44 Stars of Excellence Celebration in April 2011, comm.UNITY was awarded the Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service Award. It is presented to student organizations that have exhibited exceptional effort in planning and implementing significant service projects to the University and Syracuse community.


At the 44 Stars of Excellence Celebration in April 2009, comm.UNITY won its first-ever award: the Macy’s Rising Star Award! It is presented to a recognized student organization that has made the most significant impact through their innovative programming, membership recruitment, service, and commitment to the university and the Syracuse community.

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