USF Engage San Francisco – Working with the Western Addition

Karin CottermanKarin Cotterman
Director, Engage San Francisco

It is just over a year since USF launched Engage San Francisco, a place-based initiative that partners USF with the Western Addition to respond to community identified needs. More than partnering to support the provision of direct services, the vision of Engage San Francisco is one of transformation through engagement. Through Engage San Francisco, we work in partnership with community-based organizations, schools, the City and County of San Francisco, business entities, and other partners to respond to community-identified needs while keeping in mind the assets of community.

This means we are leveraging resources from all the Schools at USF, and the College of Arts and Sciences as well as co-curricular resources, even looking at our business practices, and asking ourselves, how do we conceptualize our work through the lens of this commitment to the Western Addition? How do we embrace this notion of service as wholly transformational, not only for our students, but for our institution? 

We know that powerful learning can take place inside and outside of the classroom. We know that powerful connections to USF can evolve from our shared commitment to a more just world. We also know that as an institution committed to life-long learning and creating a more just world, we can embody these values in our day to day operations as well as in our classrooms.

In concrete deliverables, this means we are entering our second round of community engagement grants. Last year’s grants supported the creation of study guides for the African American Shakespeare Company; music education for youth at the Church of St. John Coltrane; student internships with Handful Players; program assessment for the Village Project and the beginnings of a PhotoVoice project. These grants help support one of the best practices of campus-community partnerships by providing continuity in relationships and building capacity of community partners who are co-educators.

Also, after a successful pilot mobile health clinic in February, the School of Nursing and Health Professions is gearing up for a second mobile clinic at Ella Hill Hutch June 20th, with a third clinic planned for August. These clinics allow USF faculty, staff and students to work in partnership with community based organizations and offices of the City and County of San Francisco. Services provided included health screenings, Covered California enrollment, vision exams, nutrition counseling and more.

Engage San Francisco allows the entire university to participate collaboratively in research, reflection, dialogue, and learning that tries to find solutions for some of the most stark inequities that currently face San Francisco.

Join us.

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