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FOCUS: Focusing Our Conscious Urban Service on New Haven

FOCUS takes first-years, sophomores, transfer students, and Eli Whitney students on a 6-day exploration of the urban landscape that exists within and beyond the Yale campus. Students will make new friends as they get to know the beautiful city of New Haven, from fun city-wide events to local art and architecture to community organizing efforts. Through a guest speaker series, guided discussion, and daily engagement with local community organizations, FOCUS also encourages students to think about ways in which they can understand and have an impact on the city Yale calls home.

It is important to note that the first-year program is separate from the sophomore/transfer/Eli Whitney program, but they run parallel to each other. The two concurrent programs have different themes and are framed specifically for these different populations with distinct perspectives on Yale and New Haven.

Poke around our website for more information! Incoming first-years, please apply here. Rising sophomores and incoming transfer and Eli Whitney students please apply here. We will accept people on a rolling basis until all spots are filled, so apply as soon as you can! If you have any questions, please email Olivia and Margaret at

Portal Information


Established in 1991, FOCUS on New Haven is an end-of-summer, weeklong preorientation program designed to introduce incoming first year students to the city of New Haven and help returning upperclassmen take a closer look at the city they’ve already lived in. FOCUS encourages students to step outside of the boundaries of the Yale bubble and explore their place in the greater community. FOCUS participants, along with their upperclassmen leaders, meet with local leaders and examine controversial issues in a wide breadth of urban issues, including immigration, education, politics, race, economic development, and town-gown relations. They learn about New Haven as a whole, taking part in tours of neighborhoods, discussion panels, and meetings with community leaders. In addition to this general view, FOCUS participants also get to engage directly with individual local non-profit organizations through small group service projects at a local non-profit. Having viewed New Haven from multiple perspectives over the course of the program, FOCUS challenges participants to reflect on their present and future roles in their community, gaining a better sense of both the city in which they live and the role they can play in it.