Alternative Reading Week (ARW) takes place during February Reading Week. During ARW week, hundreds of U of T students immerse themselves in three days of volunteering on various projects with local community organizations. Students make meaningful contributions, build relationships, and learn more about the City of Toronto.  

Our annual ARW is made possible by local community-based organizations. Up to 30 community organizations welcome us to their spaces and communities.

The fundamental aim of ARW is to contribute positively to a community-identified need. For you, the student, ARW is an opportunity to:

  • deepen your sense of community on campus
  • work collaboratively with a group of U of T students
  • apply and develop your unique skills and knowledge
  • engage with social dynamics and issues in our city
  • contribute positively to a community-identified need
  • explore your identity and perspectives as they relate to the broader Toronto community
  • build your Co-Curricular Record (CCR)
group of students posing in front a blackboard


Register Register for Alternative Reading Week 2018
Schedule Alternative Reading Week schedule
Contact us Questions? Contact Amina Farah at amina.farah@utoronto.ca.
Student testimonials Stories from participants
In the news Media coverage of Alternative Reading Week

Register for Alternative Reading Week 2018

ARW2018 THEME: Learn With, and Grow With

Our theme aims to honour and value the knowledge of the communities we engage with.  A lot of us think of community engagement and/or volunteering as an opportunity to 'help'/'give-back' and yet there is so much we 'get' when we engage and volunteer in local communities.  Learning from and with our communities is a respectful approach to the work that honours reciprocity. Our focus on 'Learn With' is about encouraging participants (all of you) to respect and appreciate the knowledge held in the community where we volunteer and come from. and to respect different kinds of knowledge and grow in that knowledge 

Registration for Alternative Reading Week, 2018 (ARW2018) 


Take a look at some of the projects and themes that we have lined up:

  • Youth Engagement
  • Art Based Projects
  • Planning, Research or program Support
  • Community Engagement & Outreach


Depending on the projects your schedule may vary, but here is what a typical Alternative Reading Week looks like:


Friday, February 2, 2018, 3 – 8 p.m.

Alternative Reading Week Orientation and Meet your Team.

Location: OISE, 252 Bloor St. West inside the Auditorium on the main floor.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

9 a.m.      Registration and welcome

12 p.m.     Lunch and travel to projects

1 - 5 p.m.   Participate in projects


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Participate in projects*


Thursday, February 22, 2018

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Participate in projects*


Monday, February 26, 6-9 p.m.

Alternative Reading Week Reflection and Celebration


*Please note: projects may start later than 9 a.m. and subsequently end later (e.g. 12 – 6 p.m.) 

students with camera


Questions? Contact Amina Farah at amina.farah@utoronto.ca.

Student testimonials

Read student reflections from last year’s Alternative Reading Week on the CCP Blog.

I really enjoyed participating in this project not only because I love what ArtHeart does for children and adults in this community, but I also really liked the people I worked with. My team members were really sweet people, and I felt very lucky to have met and worked with them. My team leader, was also a very nice person who was a great leader because she was so organized and supportive of the entire group. Finally, Judy, the director of ArtHeart was a really lovely woman who was so passionate about the project. I could see that she really loved the project and she does a tremendous amount of work for them. I hope to volunteer for ArtHeart again in the summer. – ARW Participant 2017

"I’ve learned so much about the community centre I was at, including how hard-working all the members are and the programs that the community offers. The reflections have led me to discover more about myself as a leader and also as a team member. I wish to volunteer more in communities.” – ARW 2016 Participant

“ARW is a great opportunity for us to learn.  When I arrived at Culture Link, my first impression was “This is REAL!” Yes, realness is what I learned from ARW. People who need help are real, issues existing in our city are real, our knowledge is real...” – ARW 2016 Participant 

“Alternative Reading Week program is one of my favourite volunteer opportunities in my university life! It has enriched my life a lot. This is where I met awesome people who have the same goal of making it a better place to live in!” – ARW Days of Service Participant 2013

“My experiences with the projects, and the community as a whole, made me feel that I still wanted to be part of the process of contributing to society and keep in contact with some of the amazing people I had the opportunity to get to know.” – ARW Days of Service Participant 2012

“After participating in the ARW, I feel that I have learned the art of understanding, patience, and acceptance. Toronto is a diverse city, hosting a variety of ethnicities, religions and cultures. Working in the Mount Dennis community helped me realize that an understanding of these diversities go hand in hand with what it means to be a Torontonian.” – ARW Days of Service Participant 2011