Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 67.47
Liaison Aaron Klemm
Submission Date Aug. 26, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

San Jose State University
EN-9: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Michael Fallon
Center for Community Learning and Leadership
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “supportive”?:

A brief description of the institution’s supportive sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

In 2014, SJSU's College of Engineering launched an EPICs (Engineering Projects in Community Service) Program with partners with regional community-based organizations, based on the model developed by Purdue University. The EPICS program reaches out to community partners to build a multi-year partnership in areas such as human services, access and abilities, education and outreach, and the environment. SJSU coordinates student volunteers and works with community partners to identify and provide design parameters for projects. An examples of recent project is Hygiene for the Homeless (designing and building a mobile shower unit using green design principals). The community partner for this project is the Gilroy Compassion Center. As Associate Dean from the College dedicates part of her time to supporting this effort as well as one College of Engineering faculty member who directly supports student work. Additional subject matter faculty experts also provide advice to small teams of engineering students.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “collaborative”?:

A brief description of the institution's collaborative sustainability partnership(s):

In April 2014, SJSU's Center for Community Learning & Leadership commenced a partnership with the Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition/Friends of the Coyote Creek Watershed that in July brought a partner/liaison on campus at SJSU. This liaison promoted creek restoration across various disciplines and recruited hundreds of SJSU students (and community members) to participate in monthly Creek Clean-ups. Faculty and students also organized a Coyote Creek HOWL Conference for campus and community members which drew 150 persons to workshops ranging from Fish & Game to Water Quality to Homelessness on our Creeks. CCLL provides office space, faculty and students collaborate with community members on a range of ecological projects.

The Coyote Creek Restoration Project continues this Academic School Year as "Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful" with the same partner/liaison. The partnership is overseen by the City of San Jose Environmental Services Department, includes the South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition, and interfaces with the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Hundreds of tons of legacy trash has been removed from the creeks. Monthly creek clean-ups continue; and a 2nd annual HOWL Conference is set for April. A Veteran Fellow from The Mission Continues further assists this long term initiative. Another leadership team of students are now working to shelter homeless off our waterways and into homeless villages. Project leads attend monthly meetings with a collaborative of agencies. This partnership is firmly established, has earned 2 state and 1 national award. As "Sustainability" is now a General Education Track, this initiative will be central in systemic change by direct education and civic engagement of students in ecological preservation.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “transformative”?:

A brief description of the institution's transformative sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

Description: Established in 2005, CommUniverCity San Jose is a partnership of the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace communities, San Jose State University (SJSU) and the City of San Jose. SJSU concentrates service-learning classes in these neighborhoods in cooperation with the Neighborhood Advisory Council and the City. The broad goal of CommUniverCity is to build community in the neighborhoods and engage students in civic life while addressing the community development priorities identified by neighborhood residents. This is done by matching SJSU faculty and students who take their classes up with projects in the community that neighborhood leaders identify as important and that align with City objectives.

Below we provide evidence that CommUniverCity fits the criteria for a transformative sustainability partnership:
1) Scope: The 40-50 projects CommUniverCity spearheads each year are organized around three themes: community health, community building (both in terms of infrastructure and social capital), and creating a college-going culture in the local community. We focus our work in the underserved neighborhoods of District 3 of San Jose, which has a population of over 100,000 people. Sample program and projects include adult and youth financial literacy, in-class garden and environmental education classes for elementary school students along with cooking and nutrition classes and an extracurricular garden club program, and efforts to clean Coyote Creek through education and engagement of local residents, neighborhood leaders and residents, and City of San Jose departments. Recently, we launched a neighborhood leadership training program aimed at bring emerging and established community leaders together to build leadership capacity within the District's 25 neighborhoods as well as disaster preparedness project in Japantown.
2) Duration: CommUniverCity was established in 2005 and is going strong. It has the support of top leadership at the City of San Jose and San Jose State University. For example, in November 2015 the City and University signed a memorandum of understanding that sets aside $270,000 over the course of three years for both organizations to work on projects of joint interest.
3) Commitment: CommUniverCity's budget is approximately $800,000. Of that amount, approximately 1/3 is provided by SJSU as a budget line item, about 1/3 comes from the City through a combination of budget line items and fee-for-service work, and 1/3 comes from foundations. SJSU provides for a staffing level that including 2 faculty members, a community liaison, an administrative staff person, and about 6 part-time students.
Governance: One third of CommUniverCity's steering committee is composed of community members and community-based organizations working in our service area, one-third comes from University stakeholders including faculty, students, administrators, and staff, and one third from various City and county departments, including elected officials. These stakeholders play an important role in project identification, project screening (e.g., does this benefit the community? does this benefit students?), implementation, and assessment. A sub-committee of the steering committee made of up of a cross section of our stakeholders helps determine what projects will be implemented every semester. A recent internal analysis of CommUniverCity operations was undertaken in Spring 2016 and the results were shared with the steering committee. CommUniverCity is currently in the process of integrating consultant and steering committee suggestions into a restructuring of management. Stakeholders are identified and recruited through a variety of mechanisms including local neighborhood association meetings, door-to-door surveys, focus groups, university courses, faculty meetings, and City meetings.

Below are additional examples of the community-based projects CommUniverCity supported within the past year:

• Growing Sustainably - Between late February and early June 2010, members of the Silicon Valley HealthCorps of The Health Trust collaborated with CommUniverCity, members of the McKinley/Bonita Neighborhood Association, and San Jose State nutrition students to create the Growing Sustainably project. The mission behind Growing Sustainably is to increase access of healthy and fresh foods within a local neighborhood which lacks access to fresh produce markets. Projects included a six-week long cooking and nutrition workshop in the McKinley/Bonita and Olinder Park neighborhoods, a series of gardening workshops at the McKinley/Bonita Community Garden, and a community garden celebration in the same neighborhood.

• Safe and Green Halloween: Each year CommUniverCity organizes a Safe and Green Halloween festival for the families of local elementary school students. Participants enjoy Halloween games, learn about energy efficiency and safety, and either receive gently used Halloween costumes or make their own using recycled materials.

• Bringing Elementary Weather and Climate Change Education to the Classroom: Students from SJSU’s Meteorology Department conduct a number of hands on demonstrations and workshops for elementary school students at Catholic Charities’ CORAL (Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning) afterschool program at McKinley Elementary. SJSU students use digital media, satellite imagery, posters, arts and crafts and other methods to demonstrate how climate and climate change can affect the everyday life of the students, and what they can do to learn more. The project aims to not only teach elementary school children about climate change, but, most importantly, to promote an interest in science among low-income, minority girls and boys.

• Rails to Trails: The recently formed Rails to Trails Task Force (now Friends of Five Wounds Trail) successfully advocated the designation of the abandoned railroad right-of-way in the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace neighborhoods for inclusion in the Envision 2040 draft general plan as “parkland/open space,” achieving the primary goal of the task force. Friends of Five Wounds Trail is now established as an on-going community group and the city, county and VTA now recognize the goal of converting the railroad right-of-way into a trail. Two trail walk/clean-ups have been completed and an additional two are planned. Community advocates participated in a workshop with the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and are now focused on funding acquisition of land for the trail.

• Walk-a-thon and Community Fair: Students and parents from Anne Darling elementary gathered to get exercise and information on nutrition and services offered by public agencies. Interactive booths with information on nutrition were organized by SJSU community nutrition students. Students also led a stretching session for walk-a-thon participants. Six other SJSU students worked as volunteers through CCLL/AmeriCorps helping with registration and counting laps completed by participants in the walk-a-thon. The City of San Jose participated through its Parks and Recreation department. Other participants in the event included the American Red Cross and the California Highway Patrol.

A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with distant (i.e. non-local) communities:

Restore Coyote Creek was a national finalist in the Service-Year & Higher Education Challenge last April and as such presented its work to a national audience. Partners (campus, community, City) presented a cluster poster at the San Francisco Estuary Conference and was awarded outstanding environmental project in the South Bay. Last month KCCB was recognized by the John Muir Society for its achievements. As SJSU is a part of the California State University System, this "civic engagement" initiative is shared with 23 other campuses.

The website URL where information about sustainability partnerships is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.