Campus Outreach Opportunity League

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The Campus Outreach Opportunity League (C.O.O.L.) was a United States national, non-profit organization founded to promote and support college student involvement in community service and social action. It was founded in 1984 by Wayne Meisel and Bobby Hackett.[1] For twenty years COOL carried out a number of programs and strategies to fulfill its mission. COOL played a critical role in building the community service movement among college campuses throughout the United States. COOL worked with hundreds of colleges and universities to build, develop, and/or strengthen community service programs and service-learning efforts.

In addition, many of the individuals involved with COOL—particularly as staff—went on to play critical leadership roles throughout the national and community service movement. This movement or field was particularly boosted by federal policy to invest more in national and community service.

Throughout much of COOL's history, and due to a combination of factors, the organization frequently had difficulty securing sufficient financial resources. It faced near bankruptcy on a number of occasions. In 1994 the organization nearly ran out of funds. The entire national headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota was shut down approximately three weeks before the 1994 National Conference. A small group of conference staff based in Boston, continued to work through the conference. These were John Sarvey, Dawn Hutchison, Kim Lovelace, and Joel Jason Rodriguez. Ironically, the 1994 National Conference achieved the highest level of participation ever and ended with net revenues of $50,000.

As the board of directors of COOL weighed whether or not to close the organization in 1994. They decided to move it to Washington, DC. Youth Service America [1] provided office space and some key administrative support. The board appointed one of its own members, Jennifer Bastress as executive director and charged her with rebuilding the organization.

Melissa Kendrick period
Ariane Hoy and Dawn Hutchison period
Ariana Hoy period

In 2004, the leadership of COOL entered agreed to have the organization be acquired by Action Without Borders/[2] Although it was characterized as a "merger," it was in fact, a full acquisition. Financially COOL had more debt than assets. It lived on as the Idealist On Campus program of Action Without Borders. In 2007, Action Without Borders decided to discontinue the program.

The COOL National Conference[edit]

The only COOL program that continued throughout its twenty-year history was its National Conference on Student Community Service, more commonly known as "the COOL Conference." Its first few years, it attracted a couple hundred students and administrators and it grew large when hosted by Fordham University, with more than 1,200 students and administrators attending. In similar years at UCLA, in New Orleans and then Orlando, multiple campuses hosted this large and dynamic event. The largest COOL Conference may have been in 2000 at Saint Anselm College when over 2,000 students attended the event.

This program also continued as part of the Idealist on Campus program within Action Without Borders.[3] After AWB/ decided to discontinue the program, a group of volunteers stepped forward to continue the conference as an all-volunteer organized event. Heather Cronk,[4] who had served on the staff of Idealist On Campus and planned a number of conference in that capacity, and Abby Kiesa,[5] from CIRCLE led the volunteer organizing effort. John Sarvey,[6] who had served as the National Conference Director for COOL from 1991 to 1994 joined the volunteer effort and arranged to have Northeastern University hosted the next conference. The planning committee re-branded it "IMPACT: National Student Conference on Community Service, Advocacy, and Social Action."[7] In 2009 the conference was hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park and in 2010, the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. The next conference, in 2011, will be hosted by Stetson University.


1985: Harvard University—Cambridge, Massachusetts

1986: Brown University—Providence, Rhode Island

1987: Georgetown University—Washington, DC

1988: Stanford University—Palo Alto, California

1989: Fordham University—Bronx, New York

1990: University of California, Los Angeles—Los Angeles, California

1991: Dillard University, Tulane University, Xavier University, SUNO, others—New Orleans, Louisiana

1992: Rollins College, University of Central Florida, Valencia Community College—Orlando, Florida

1993: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign—Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

1994: University of Massachusetts Boston – Boston, Massachusetts

1995: Arizona State University—Tempe, Arizona

1996: George Washington University—Washington, DC

1997: Case Western Reserve University—Cleveland, Ohio

1998: University of South Carolina—Columbia, South Carolina

1999: University of Utah—Salt Lake City, Utah

2000: Saint Anselm College—Goffstown, New Hampshire

2001: Harvard University—Cambridge, Massachusetts

2002: Morehouse College—Atlanta, Georgia

2003: Cleveland State University—Cleveland, Ohio

2004: University of Pennsylvania—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

2005: University of California-Berkeley—Berkeley, California

2006: Vanderbilt University—Nashville, Tennessee

2007: DePaul University—Chicago, Illinois

2008: Northeastern University – Boston, Massachusetts

2009: University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

2010: University of Arkansas, Little Rock – Little Rock, Arkansas

2011: Stetson University - DeLand, Florida

Other Significant Programs[edit]

  • "Road Warriors"
  • Mixing It Up
  • Teaming Up
  • Into the Streets, which many college campuses still do in the Fall
  • Road Scholars Program
  • COOL Leaders
  • COOL Cities

Executive Directors of COOL[edit]

  • Wayne Meisel[8]
  • Julia Scatliff
  • Bill Hoogterp[9]
  • Kristen Parrish
  • Jennifer Bastress[10]
  • Melissa Kendrick
  • Ariane Hoy[11]

Board Chairs of COOL[edit]

  • John Wallace
  • Maura Wolf
  • John Beilenson
  • Bobby Hackett
  • Robert Gianinno

Other Notable Former Staff Members of COOL[edit]

Frank Barnes [2] Developed and led a national affinity group of African American student leaders at COOL

Carol Bowar Edith Buhs [3]

Arrington Chambliss served as Outreach Director, and Valerie Gamache Outreach Intern ('90) led launch of Into the Streets program. Arrington developed and managed the Road Scholars Program

Adam Grauer served as COOL Cities Coordinator and led its pilot in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, from 2001-02 prior to the merger with Idealist.

Dawn Hutchison

Lloyd Jacobson, National Programs Director (1995-1998) - Oversaw creation of COOL's initial online strategy and the development of COOL Leaders training program.

Louisa Meacham

Marc Osman, Director of Administration and Technology (1998–2000) improved the organization's infrastructure and promoted the COOL website and various publications

Tobi Bennington, National Meetings Director (1999-2000) - Encouraged student activism as part of COOL's dedication to service, thus influencing the expansion of the 2000 COOL Conference to highlight the importance of student political activism as a means of volunteerism.

Jackson Miller served as National Conference Director (1999-2000) - Added a focus on student political activism to the COOL Conference. He brought the controversial William Upski Wimsatt to give a keynote address at the 2000 Conference where he likened community service to a temporary fix like "chap stik" causing several students to turn their chairs to the back of the room in protest.

Joel Rittle served as Associate Programs Director (1993–1994) and National Meetings Outreach Director (1995)

John Sarvey Served as National Meetings Director (1991–1994), Managing Director (1993)[4](Executive Director, School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs, Northeastern University)

Karen Young Served as National Meetings Director (1990–1991), Communications Director (1991–1993)Youth On Board (Founder and Director of Youth on Board)

Papers Written About COOL[edit]

Stern, Rachael. "Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL)."[12] Graduate Student, Grand Valley State University.

Papers and Books with References to COOL[edit]

Krehbiel, Lee E. and MacKay, Kathleen. "Volunteer Work by Undergraduates 1988 - ERIC Digest."[13] (ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education, Washington DC, 1988)

Crews, Robin Jeffrey. Higher Education Service-learning Sourcebook.[14] (Oryx Press, 2002)


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  8. ^ Official biography posted on the website for the Bonner Foundation
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  11. ^ Official biography posted on the website for the Bonner Foundation
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