Sharpe Community Scholars

Our Program Mission

The Sharpe Community Scholars Program strives to support the development of select first-year students through the integration of academic studies, research and community engagement. 

Why combine research and academic study with community engagement?  Relevance.  Because knowledge matters in the real world.  Sharpe Community Scholars take advantage of W&M’s liberal arts education with a committed goal from the start:  putting their learning to work in the world and in communities around them.  

Each year the program selects between 60 and 75 applicants to enroll in courses that are specifically designed to prepare students for engaged learning with and within communities.  Sharpe Scholars live together in Spotswood Hall (which is designated especially for the program) and work closely with faculty and peer mentors to develop community-based research skills and form action plans for community engagement throughout the year. 

Some scholars advance to completing independent and Honors community-based research.  All Sharpe and Scholars are eligible to apply for Sharpe summer research funding

Check out what Sharpe Community Scholars say they've gained in previous years.

Community-Based Learning and Research

Sharpe Scholars receive extensive support from William & Mary professors, upper level Teaching Fellows, and community professionals who are committed to developing student leaders prepared to take-on new challenges and to promote transformative social and structural change.  Students learn to develop community-based action and research through mentorship, collaboration, and learning experiences structured by our curriculum. 

Please note that Sharpe Scholars spend an average of 5 hours each week outside of class in meetings, dedicated to community action with and within communities. Often, these meetings lead to the development of collaborative research-based projects.


Spotswood Hall is the first building within the larger all-freshman Botetourt Complex. It is located within easy walking distance of the William & Mary Commons dining hall and Rec Center, and includes a classroom for class and small-group meetings.

Summer Research Grants

Sharpe students are eligible to apply for summer research grants of  $3,000 to support self-designed, community-based research. These competitive grants are restricted to Sharpe Scholars and may be used in the U.S. or abroad. For a list of sample projects please go to Summer Grants.