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PBHA is a student-run, staff-supported nonprofit organization based on the Harvard campus and operating in the community. For more than a century, PBHA has offered vital experience to generations of leaders in service while strengthening partnerships between students and local communities. Today, 1,400 volunteers participate in more than 80 programs serving 10,000 low-income people throughout Greater Boston. PBHA brings the creativity and enthusiasm of students together with the guidance of professional staff and the knowledge of community members to offer inspired and effective year-round and year-to-year programming.
Among its accomplishments, PBHA volunteers were pioneers in working with the mentally ill in the 1950s - PBHAers testified before Congress on those issues, and later, the Mental Health Committee, which partnered college students with patients in mental health facilities, was a model for President Kennedy's VISTA. Around the same time, PBHA developed a volunteer teacher's project in Africa that was studied in the creation of the Peace Corps (Project Tanganyika). PBHA's Undergraduate Teachers Program (UTEP) was one of the first attempts to utilize student volunteers to support understaffed schools, and PBHA continues to innovate in the relationship between students and public housing communities, particularly through the Summer Urban Program, or SUP.