Seattle University, Seattle, WA
Special Focus: Promise Neighborhoods Model
Drawing upon its Jesuit Catholic tradition, Seattle University’s mission and values speak to its commitment to “empower leaders for a just and humane world.” The University places a major emphasis on connecting classroom and co-curricular learning with service and justice opportunities in the wider community.
Seattle University focuses much of its community engagement efforts on Seattle’s Central District, a neighborhood adjacent to its campus with one of the highest rates of child poverty, youth violence, and juvenile incarceration in the city. The University’s commitment to the Central District is reflected in its strategic plan and academic programs, as well as its $1.2 million annual community engagement budget.
Launched in 2010, with inspiration from the Harlem Children’s Zone—the model which inspired the Promise Neighborhoods—the Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI) is a partnership of the University, Seattle School District, City of Seattle, and more than 30 community organizations.
The SUYI Fund for Engagement made $50,000 available for college faculty and staff to implement projects and engage volunteers in providing multiple facets of support to the Central District neighborhood.
Among the projects supported by the Fund for Engagement were a college visit program, a tutoring project in which University law school students provided free citizenship classes, and a summer robotics program offered by the College of Science and Engineering.
University staff and local teachers developed an afterschool program, the “Brain Train,” for kindergarteners and first-graders, who were not meeting academic benchmarks. Four afternoons a week, the students engaged in literacy activities and computer skills. Students improved homework performance and readiness for the next grade level.
The University has established a Leadership Seminar that enrolled 30 university students in the 2010-2011 academic year. Through the seminar, student leaders coordinated immersion trips to local neighborhoods, connected with residents, led advocacy trainings and cultural outings, and developed service projects. The Seminar has created a network of co-leaders who can continue to build the capacity of community organizations.
*The estimated dollar value of volunteer time for 2010 is $21.36 per hour according to the Independent Sector.