Campus: San José State University -- November 15, 2004

"Town And Gown" Partnership To Enhance San José Neighborhood

Residents in the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace Strong Neighborhoods area are the first to benefit from a new Service Learning "Town and Gown" collaboration initiated by San Josť State University. More than 300 SJSU students are working on an ambitious series of service learning projects aimed at strengthening neighborhoods while building closer ties to the university.

The "Town and Gown" partnership involves San José State University, the City of San José, San José Redevelopment Agency, the HealthTrust of Santa Clara County and several neighborhood-based organizations. The collaboration provides innovative, quality learning opportunities for university students and additional resources to help advance neighborhood projects.

"People in our neighborhoods will gain from the energy, creativity and enthusiasm of university students committed to making a difference in our community," said San José Mayor Ron Gonzales.

"Students will benefit from the priceless experience and skills that come from working on real projects that impact real lives. Together we will strengthen the valuable relationship between the university and the city that will pay long-term dividends for both of us," Gonzales said.

According to Susan Meyers, dean of the College of Education, "Service learning allows students to participate in projects that incorporate academic learning into practical, real-world application. Unlike community service, the process includes an element of reflection and classroom discussion that encourages ongoing civic engagement on the part of the students," Meyers said.

SJSU's colleges of Business, Social Work, Social Science, and the Center for Service Learning are also involved in the partnership, which will initially focus on the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace Neighborhood, one mile east of downtown San José.

"Innovative collaborations like this one are a great way to pool the creativity and resources of many different segments of the community for a common purpose," said Councilmember Cindy Chavez, a San José State University graduate whose district includes the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace Neighborhood. "This partnership is an exciting opportunity for students to invest their time and attention in a community in order to improve the quality of life of city residents."

This neighborhood is one of 20 areas of San José participating in the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative, created by the city in 2000. SNI is a partnership between the City of San José, Redevelopment Agency, and residents to build clean, safe, and attractive neighborhoods and empower neighborhood leadership. The partnership seeks to improve neighborhood conditions, enhance community safety, expand community services and strengthen neighborhood associations.

"We chose the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace Neighborhood to launch the partnership for many reasons," continued Meyers. "Primarily, it has a close proximity to campus and there are a variety of improvement projects for our students to undertake, which will make a real difference in people's lives. By focusing on a geographically limited section of the city, it will be possible to document the improvements as a result of the collaboration."

Some of the projects include:

  • Students studying child development are implementing an emotional literacy program at partner elementary schools in the greater downtown area including Olinder, Anne Darling, McKinley, Horace Mann and Peter Burnett. The program will serve to reduce students' aggression and bullying. They are also working on a reading program to bring students up to a certain grade level.
  • Management information students are working with the HealthTrust of Santa Clara County, a non-profit organization focused on community health issues. They will create personal health and fitness profiles to help community residents create their own goals.
  • Other projects will bring mobile technology to local health fairs and the greater downtown community through a Hewlett-Packard mobility grant, and help establish a school-wide Health Olympics program for next spring.
  • Students studying quantitative methods and statistics will assist in developing and administering a health survey, which will determine health care needs, proximity to health care services and use of services. They will also look for correlations with transportation options for the community.
  • Anthropology students are exploring ways to complement the annual City of San José Quality of Life Survey through follow up interviews on perceptions and realities with living in San José.
  • Students in urban and regional planning classes are working with city planners to help implement community redevelopment plans and to beautify and improve the safety of key intersections and shopping plazas.
Contact: Nancy L. Stake, SJSU, at 408-924-1166, Jim Holgersson, City of San José at 408-277-5441

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