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CommUniverCity San Jose: A Partnership for Service and Learning
Unformatted Document Text:  grade students but the program could not be implemented due to budget constraints. I contacted CommUniverCity and in a matter of two weeks, they had contacted Olinder Elementary and provided them with tutors for this target group. Also, I would cite the Day of Service Event 2006 – This was the one day when volunteers worked on different projects to better the neighborhood. They cleaned our streets, painted homes in our neighborhood, painted a mural in our Community Center and painted the outside of our Community Center. In addition, they held Domestic Violence Workshops, and provided the participants with Health information.” Challenges: Involving Residents and Funding. Turf wars, siloed city and university bureaucracies, institutional self-interest, personal ambition, and the simple failure to produce can all be challenges to undertakings like CommUniverCity, but they haven’t been for us. That’s because the people who have chosen to participate or who have been recruited to work with CommUniverCity—faculty, city staff, residents, and others—through self-selection or by other means, have been collaborators. The commitment of top city and university leaders to collaboration also helped. The real challenges for CommUniverCity have been getting residents involved and, inevitably, funding. Residents of FWBT are poor and working class; many do not speak English; most work hard and have little free time. Getting them to meetings is tough, but we’re learning how to communicate through the schools, by canvassing door- to-door and by phone tree as well as email, although the latter is limited in FWBT. Person-to-person contact always works best and we’ve learned when to schedule meetings for the convenience of this community. We also always make sure to have food and translators at meetings and to make every one feel welcome when they arrive. Involving residents will continue to be a challenge, but we’re making progress. Funding is another matter. Despite their enthusiasm for CommUniverCity, funds are tight for both the university and the city and a collaborative project isn’t as important as providing classes or police protection. CommUniverCity doesn’t cost a lot (the 29

Authors: Christensen, Terry., Jackson, Melinda. and Agredano, Ricardo.
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grade students but the program could not be implemented due to budget constraints. I contacted
CommUniverCity and in a matter of two weeks, they had contacted Olinder Elementary and provided
them with tutors for this target group. Also, I would cite the Day of Service Event 2006 – This was the
one day when volunteers worked on different projects to better the neighborhood. They cleaned our
streets, painted homes in our neighborhood, painted a mural in our Community Center and painted the
outside of our Community Center. In addition, they held Domestic Violence Workshops, and provided
the participants with Health information.”
Challenges: Involving Residents and Funding. Turf wars, siloed city and
university bureaucracies, institutional self-interest, personal ambition, and the simple
failure to produce can all be challenges to undertakings like CommUniverCity, but they
haven’t been for us. That’s because the people who have chosen to participate or who
have been recruited to work with CommUniverCity—faculty, city staff, residents, and
others—through self-selection or by other means, have been collaborators. The
commitment of top city and university leaders to collaboration also helped.
The real challenges for CommUniverCity have been getting residents involved
and, inevitably, funding. Residents of FWBT are poor and working class; many do not
speak English; most work hard and have little free time. Getting them to meetings is
tough, but we’re learning how to communicate through the schools, by canvassing door-
to-door and by phone tree as well as email, although the latter is limited in FWBT.
Person-to-person contact always works best and we’ve learned when to schedule
meetings for the convenience of this community. We also always make sure to have food
and translators at meetings and to make every one feel welcome when they arrive.
Involving residents will continue to be a challenge, but we’re making progress.
Funding is another matter. Despite their enthusiasm for CommUniverCity, funds
are tight for both the university and the city and a collaborative project isn’t as important
as providing classes or police protection. CommUniverCity doesn’t cost a lot (the
29


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