IMPACT was launched in the Fall of 2014 as a course designed to enhance college student engagement and academic achievement by offering active and experiential learning opportunities through near peer advising and service learning. Service-learning courses involve reflection as well as action and combines community work with classroom instruction and course requirements (Schutz & Gere, 1998), and to that end IMPACT engages and connects undergraduate students who attend the University of Texas at Austin to youth at the middle school and high school levels in the Central Texas community through near peer advising and mentoring (Schmidt & Moust, 1995).
IMPACT provides students with first-hand experiences working within local schools in the Austin Independent School District, Del Valle Independent School District, East Austin College Prep, and Texans CAN Academy Austin to advise and mentor young middle school and high school students about college pathways (e.g., tracks), and the importance of learning the necessary soft-skills that will make them successful students whether they are transitioning from middle school to high school, or high school to a higher education institution. Students also engage in leadership training with emerging and established community leaders. Overall, this service-learning course focuses on leadership development, mentoring theories, research presentations and discussion.