Office of Civic Engagement

Office of Civic Engagement

About the Office of Civic Engagement

The Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) works with students, faculty, and staff at Cleveland State University to encourage citizenship and strong communities by building partnerships within CSU, with public, nonprofit community-based organizations, and governmental institutions. These partnerships enhance student learning by engaging students in civic, employment, experiential, leadership, and co-curricular involvement opportunities and experiences while contributing to the civic, academic, social, and economic well-being of Cleveland, its neighborhoods, and the Northeast Ohio region. The CSU Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) has a vast network of strategic civic and community partnerships. Each of our partners play a pivotal role in connecting and engaging CSU, our students, and the Greater Cleveland Community.

From one-time volunteer experiences for students to service-learning projects embedded in the curriculum to long-term collaborative partnerships that tackle the community's toughest challenges, the Office of Civic Engagement helps campus and community maximize the benefits of their interdependence.  

Recent News

OCE invites CSU Students to take a Voter Issue Survey

The OCE is asking CSU students to take a short civic engagement survey. With the 2024 Election Cycle in full swing with caucuses and primaries underway and just coming off the busy 2023 Ohio Election Cycle where Ohio voters focused on ballot issues around reproductive freedom, cannabis, and attempts to change the percentage of votes needed to pass any proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of Ohio, we are hoping to get a snapshot of CSU's students voting priorities in 2024. 

As nonpartisan advocates for civic education and engagement on campus, the purpose of this survey is to engage CSU students in thinking about the upcoming Ohio Presidential Primary on March 19th and the General Election on November 5th and its importance around issues that resonate with them. 

Please complete this survey by March 19, 2024. » 

Exploring Cleveland: OCE Collaboration with CSU Men's Basketball Team




The CSU Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) and the Men's Basketball Team enjoyed serving together again in Cleveland at the St. Augustine Hunger Center on December 11, 2023. Together, we decorated for the holidays, prepared meals, and sorted donations of towels and bedding. These players are great on the court and serve with the OCE with HEART!

St. Augustine served 11,745 hot meals in October 2023 and 7,907 hot meals in November 2023. They are always looking for volunteers and donations! If you are looking to get involved or can make a donation, visit their website,, to find out more!

The OCE and the CSU Men's Basketball Team will be back out in the community serving together in 2024!

Spring Semester 2024 OCE Voter Information Tables 

The Office of Civic Engagement will be hosting Voter Information Tables to get CSU students vote ready by offering them the opportunity to register to vote, update registration information, and apply to vote by mail. Learn more. » 

America Reads and Viking Corps student jobs are available for Spring 2024!

The Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) has several community service-learning job opportunities available for CSU students. The job opportunities are offered through OCE's America Reads and Viking Corps (Federal Work Study) programs, pay $15 per hour, and are located around the Cleveland areaLearn more. »  

Make a plan to voteResearch Your Ballot with All In To Vote's Website

The Office of Civic Engagement encourages Vikes to do research prior to casting their ballot on November 7, 2023. To learn about the upcoming election type in your zip code on the All In To Vote Research Your Ballot website to see what measures and candidates are going to be on your ballot!

Learn more. »

groupAnita Ruf-Young Featured in Ideastream Public Media Article about Challenges Facing College Students Voting In-Person in November's 2023 Election

Anita Ruf-Young, the director for the Office of Civic Engagement, is featured in this Ideastream Public Media article about House Bill 458 which requires voters to have a photo ID with them when going to the polls and what this means for college students.

Learn more. »

Vikings! Take the ALL IN Democracy Challenge PLEDGE to VOTE!


The Office of Civic Engagement is a Proud Participant in the All in Democracy Challenge. Throughout each year, not just around elections, we aim to encourage active citizenship and civically engage our campus community through a variety of nonpartisan initiatives.
Part of being civically engaged is for students, faculty, and staff to make a PLEDGE and a PLAN to VOTE. Many studies suggest that having individuals pledge to vote is an effective way to increase voter turnout and that you are more likely to complete an action that you have previously committed to doing. 

We encourage all Vikes to take the pledge to vote for yourself and to show that Vikes Vote!
There are important issues on the ballot for the upcoming election on November 7, 2023, including Issue 1: The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety, Issue 2: Marijuana Legalization Initiative, and Cleveland, Ohio Issue 38: People's Budget Initiative are just a few examples of why it is important for all eligible voters to take the pledge to cast their ballot on November 7th. 

 Vikings: You can take your PLEDGE to VOTE here.

Job Posting

Posting Date: 10/17/2023
Position: Election Night Job Opportunities 
Company/Organization: The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (CCBOE) needs to hire 100 individuals to work as Election Night Ballot Box Openers for the November 7th Special Election for $20 per hour | 4 hours of work. This is a great opportunity for CSU students to see democracy in action. It is a behind the scenes look at the election process! It is a great way for students to be civically engaged, earn some extra money while building their resume, networking, and representing Cleveland State University. 

Students will need a social security number to participate (for payroll purposes), be over 18, and cannot be a convicted felon.

Sign up to become an Election Night Ballot Box Opener for November 7th Special Election:

Learn more about these opportunities. » 

The Kindland Summit


OCE CSU Kindland Summit 2023  OCE CSU Kindland Summit 2023  OCE CSU Kindland Summit 2023  OCE CSU Kindland Summit 2023

OCE CSU Kindland Summit 2023  OCE CSU Kindland Summit 2023  OCE CSU Kindland Summit 2023  OCE CSU Kindland Summit 2023



The Kindland Summit was held on Friday, September 22, 2023 in CSU's Student Center Ballroom from 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. The event was organized by Values in Action, the CSU President's Office, the CSU Office of Civic Engagement, the Levin College of Education and Public Affairs, and Campus Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

The Kindland Summit had 250 attendees. The panelists were Northeast Ohio leaders from major sectors of our community including business, schools, government, faith, and media. The Office of Civic Engagement asked attendees to start the Summit off with an intentional act of "kindness" by donating items to CSU's Lift Up Vikes! "The record amount of donations received for Lift Up Vikes! was a true reflection of the kindness that we have in our Cleveland community." said Anita Ruf-Young, OCE director. Shoes and Clothes for Kids donated 6 pallets of much needed supplies a week after the Kindland Summit. Lift Up Vikes! Coordinator, Megan Ashwill, commented to the OCE, "The donations we've received of hygiene products from the Kindland Summit have been so impactful for our patrons. We often struggle to purchase these items because they are very expensive, and it can be rare for us to have an overflowing cabinet of options for our patrons. The items we received will go a long way in helping our community." 

It's a great day to BE KIND!

If you are interested and able in donating to Lift Up Vikes!, the following items are always needed and appreciated:

  • Boxed/canned pasta, ramen, instant noodles,
  • Canned vegetables and other nonperishable canned food
  • A variety of spices
  • Cooking oils
  • Any assortment of quick handheld snacks (chips, pop tarts, granola bars, popcorn)
  • Baby and Infant food and snacks

The Office of Civic Engagement celebrates National Voter Registration Day!





On September 19, 2023, OCE with the help of Alpha Kappa Alpha, NOVA, Cleveland Votes, Campus Engagement, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion registered 50 new voters, collected 27 vote-by-mail forms, and engaged with hundreds of students. Special guests at the event included the CSU Men's Basketball Team, CSU PD Officer Jones with Rune, and Erica Jarrett from CSU's Human Resources. What a day for democracy!

The Office of Civic Engagement and the CSU's Men's Basketball Team Volunteer at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank




The CSU Office of Civic Engagement and the CSU's Men's Basketball Team had a great time teaming up again on August 3, 2023 at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to repack 10 pallets, 400 cartons, and 12,000 pounds of food for the Cleveland community. OCE director, Anita Ruf-Young stated, "It is an honor to serve our community with these great young men who train hard, work hard, and serve with passion!" The OCE and the Men's Basketball Team plan on making this a regular service activity to help address the food insecurity many families face in our community.

Each year, Cleveland State University's Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) hires and places 80 students in service learning opportunities. Over the past five years, 30,228 youth and other community members throughout Northeast Ohio have benefitted from the work of these students. For 14 years, with generous grant support provided by the Cleveland Public Library, Director Anita Ruf-Young and her team have helped to build CSU’s America Reads/Viking Corps programs. Recruiting and placing CSU students in community service-learning positions, children from kindergarten through high school are tutored and mentored, free of cost, within CPL branches. CSU tutors gain real-world work experience developing soft skills, building their resumes and networks, while earning stipends to defray their educational expenses. In March 2023, the Ohio Campus Compact honored Ruf-Young with their annual David Hoch Memorial Award. In her role, Ruf-Young works with students, faculty, and staff at CSU to encourage citizenship and strong communities by building partnerships within CSU, with public, nonprofit community-based organizations, and governmental institutions.


Office of Civic Engagement Director, Anita Ruf-Young Interviewed by Axios Cleveland 


Office of Civic Engagement Director, Anita Ruf-Young was recently interviewed by Troy Smith at Axios Cleveland about House Bill 458, which requires an Ohio driver's license or photo ID to vote in person. The bill goes into effect this week. Read more. »  



Office of Civic Engagement Staff Interviewed by Signal Cleveland


Office of Civic Engagement Director, Anita Ruf-Young, and OCE Democracy Fellow, Justin Samsa, were recently interviewed by Amy Morona at Signal Cleveland regarding House Bill 458. The article New Ohio Voting Law Could Add Another Barrier for College Students mentions that, “[t]here will be fewer types of identification accepted at election polls in Ohio, potentially making it more difficult for college students to cast ballots and be civically engaged.” Read more. »

    Cleveland State University Designated a Voter Friendly Campus Again by NASPA and Campus Vote Project

    NASPACleveland State University, was recently named a Voter Friendly Campus by the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The initiative recognizes institutions that have planned and implemented practices that encourage their students to register to vote and vote in future elections.

    The mission of the 2023 Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster colleges and universities’ efforts to help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. The CSU Office of Civic Engagement was evaluated based on their Democracy Action Plan to register, educate, and turnout student voters in 2022.

    As part of our effort to be designated a Voter Friendly Campus, The Office of Civic Engagement commits to intentional activities throughout every election year, not just during national election years, to civically educate and engage Cleveland State University students, says Anita Ruf-Young, Director, Office of Civic Engagement.

    Anita Ruf-YoungAnita Ruf-Young Receives Prestigious David Hoch Memorial Award 

    Ohio Campus Compact has honored Anita Ruf-Young, Director of Cleveland State University’s Office of Civic Engagement, with their 2023 David Hoch Memorial Award. In her role, Ruf-Young works with students, faculty, and staff at Cleveland State University to encourage citizenship and strong communities by building partnerships within CSU, with public, nonprofit community-based organizations, and governmental institutions.

    OCE Vikes! VOTEView Voter Information from the Office of Civic Engagement





    Dream Team: The OCE & CSU Men’s Basketball

    CSU Mens Basketball Team Huddle OCE Anita Ruf Young with CSU Mascot MagnusOCE CSU Mens Basketball Team Selfie

    OCE CSU Mens Basketball Team Slide Image from Greater Cleveland Food BankOCE with Members of CSU Mens Basketball Team OCE with Players Assistant Coach of Mens Basketball Team 

    On Tuesday, January 24, 2023 The Office of Civic Engagement and the CSU Men’s Basketball Team teamed up to volunteer at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s new facility on Coit Road. Our day of service came at the request of Assistant Coach Travis Lewis, who approached OCE Director Anita Ruf-Young for assistance finding a volunteer opportunity for the team. Coach Lewis expressed this interest after our first successful activity with the team in October at our Civic Engagement: A Dialogue event with students and local leaders. Since that time, The OCE  provided the team with nonpartisan voting resources and walked to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections with the team. Some players even voted for the first time!
    At the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, we participated in one of their repack shifts. This shift begins with assembling the boxes that will be filled through an assembly line where each teammate adds a particular food staple into the box. In the two hours we were there, we packed up 240 boxes of shelf stable foods filling 6 pallets that weighed 7,200 pounds. The OCE gives a HUGE shout out to the staff at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank! They made the work fun with their playlist of upbeat music, and we all appreciated their patience onboarding us as well as the efficiency with which they run these shifts.
    Later that week, The OCE wanted to support this great team on their court next! We got to be their guests at the team’s game against Purdue Ft. Wayne on January 27th. The OCE was finally able to witness these young men and their coaches in their element and they did not disappoint. They played a fast paced game with an ultimate win of 79 to 74.
    It was a great week to be a Vike!

    Cleveland State University Recognized as a 2022 ALL IN Most Engaged Campus for College Student Voting

    Most Engaged Campus Post 

    Cleveland State University is one of 394 colleges and universities recognized for its efforts to increase nonpartisan democratic student engagement in the 2022 election.

    Cleveland State University has been recognized by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) as a 2022 ALL IN Most Engaged Campus for College Student Voting. The ALL IN Most Engaged Campuses for College Student Voting recognizes colleges and universities for making intentional efforts to increase student voter participation. Cleveland State University joins a group of 394 colleges and universities recognized by ALL IN for completing these four actions:

    CSU President Dr. Laura Bloomberg remarked, “Cleveland State University and our Office of Civic Engagement are committed to providing our students with the information they need to become registered voters and active citizens. We stress to our students the importance of their participation in the voting process. CSU is honored to receive this recognition from ALL IN and proud that our students are voicing their opinions with their votes."

    “The Office of Civic Engagement is honored to again have our nonpartisan democratic student engagement efforts recognized by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. The OCE works all year long to ensure our campus community is registered to vote and informed on local, state, and national voting issues. Our engagement is successful because we go beyond one off interactions. We are embedding civic engagement into the DNA of CSU by institutionalizing it in campus events and in the curriculum that reaches the desks of every first year student. Our work is made possible through our civic and academic allies such as Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Campus Vote Project, CSU’s First Year Experience program, the Michael Schwartz Library, our Athletics’ Department, and CSU President Dr. Laura Bloomberg,” said Anita Ruf-Young, Director, CSU’s Office of Civic Engagement. “Our annual submissions to receive these designations provides us opportunities to sharpen our Campus Democracy Action Plan to increase CSU student voter turnout. With 89% of our student body registered to vote, we look forward to receiving our Midterm 2022 Election data.”

    For more information on the CSU Office of Civic Engagement, please visit our website,

    OCE Director, Anita Ruf-Young is featured in this Northeast Ohio Boomer article

    Image 3161OCE Director, Anita Ruf-Young is featured in this Northeast Ohio Boomer article September/October 2022 about the relationsship between grandparents and grandchildren. Learn more. » 



    Gabi Pridemore, former Office of Civic Engagement America Reads Tutor, is featured a Vindicator article

    Gabi Pridemore, former Office of Civic Engagement America Reads Tutor, is featured a Vindicator article about her experience working for the OCE. Learn more. » 

    The Office of Civic Engagement is Partnering with the Michael Schwartz Library to Promote Civic and Voter Engagement 

    Setting Reliable Voting Image

    The OCE has partnered with the Michael Schwartz Library heading into the Midterm Election to bring nonpartisan, reliable voting information to CSU students! Check out MSL's Democracy 101 Guide and Voting Research Guide as you prepare to exercise your most important right, casting your ballot this November. 

    More news from the Office of Civic Engagement. »