CommUniverCity San Jose: A Partnership for Service and Learning
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executive director’s half-time salary, the VISTAs, office space, supplies, and, ideally
released time for faculty to develop and implement service learning projects) but too
often we rely on faculty members and others to contribute time on top of their regular
duties rather than as part of them.
The prospects for external funding seem good, although many foundations are
leery of funding what they think should be the responsibility of universities (teaching)
and cities (public services). Similarly, most corporate donors have their own agendas, for
which CommUniverCity may not always be a good fit. Whether foundation or
corporation, applying for restricted grants or gifts requires advance planning that
CommUniverCity hasn’t caught up with yet. Our projects vary from semester to semester
and we haven’t yet been able to plan years into the future. Fortunately our first and major
funder, Pacific Gas and Electric, had the wisdom to see the overall benefits of
CommUniverCity and provided an unrestricted grant which, along with university and
city support, has provided a solid foundation for our first years.
Replication: You Can Do It. CommUniverCity may seem like the result of a
“perfect storm” of factors, but it’s not beyond replication without such substantial levels
of university and city collaboration—without a “Beyond MLK” initiative or even a
Strong Neighborhoods Initiative. A single faculty member could start such a project with
his or her own service learning projects, but it would be best to find a few colleagues with
whom to collaborate, simply by concentrating your projects in a selected neighborhood.
Try to find an existing community or neighborhood organization to work with so that
residents can be involved in the selection and implementation of projects. You don’t
necessarily need to go through the yearlong priority-setting exercise that
Authors: Christensen, Terry., Jackson, Melinda. and Agredano, Ricardo.