Campus: CSU Northridge -- July 1, 2005

$125,000 Grant Funds CSUN Gang Prevention Program

Cal State Northridge's Center for Community Service-Learning received a $125,000 grant to help combat the lure of gang life in the San Fernando Valley.

The gift will fund the Mentoring to Overcome Struggles and Inspire Courage (MOSAIC), program which partners with the LAPD and the Jeopardy Foundation to support after-school gang prevention programs in the San Fernando Valley. The money will fund such things as program field trips for youths in the program, materials and instruments.

"The goal is to really change the lives of kids who are on the periphery of gang involvement and to show them that there is a lot of hope and that a lot of good things can happen if they pick a different road," said Maureen Rubin, director of Northridge's Center for Community Service-Learning.

The award is the third annual renewal of an initial $175,000 Learn and Serve America Program grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

MOSAIC integrates 40 work-study students, 20 graduate students and 150 service-learning students into existing after-school prevention programs throughout the San Fernando Valley. The Northridge students provide homework assistance and a wide variety of enrichment projects that will connect with the youth's interests and allow them to experience success and challenge their ideas about what the world holds for them.

The after-school programs offer gang-prone youngsters from ages seven to 17, young people released from probation camps and youth who failed in academia an opportunity to invest their energy and time into constructive programs and activities. The programs encourage literacy, and curricular and co-curricular activities like dance and sports that are led by CSUN community service-learning students.

Through the Community Gang Prevention class offered by Northridge's Sociology Department in conjunction with MOSAIC, CSUN students are able to tie theoretical concepts learned in class to the reality of the field of study in the community.

"We want to give them an opportunity to do something other than just hang out. We want to help them find something to do that interests them," Rubin said noting that the San Fernando Valley has 80 gangs and 15,000 gang members.

While enrolled in the class, CSUN students learn anger management, conflict resolution, drug prevention, stress management, communication skills and how to teach youth about anger management. While working with the youth, the students can apply what they have learned.

The program benefits CSUN students by giving them a sense of community and by promoting civic engagement, Rubin said.

Students' interest in getting involved increases along with an acceptance of diversity that evolves when they are forced to leave their comfort zone, she added. The field experience attained through service-learning allows students to understand if the field in which they are volunteering is the field they want to work.

The center has received "glowing reports about the program," Rubin said. "The kids are bringing friends into the program and they see the CSUN students as role models. The kids see that the same type of kid who made it to college is giving back to kids who are just like them."

CSUN offers 75 community service-learning programs--such as MOSAIC--each semester that stem from all aspects of academia. Northridge students mentor gang-prone youths, work with participants of the Special Olympics, assist the elderly, conduct physical and occupational therapy, and perform other services.

Launched in 1998, CSUN's Center for Community-Service Learning aims to inspire, encourage and support students and faculty in their pursuit of academic excellence through involvement in meaningful community service.

Contacts: Marc Tolentino or Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, marc.n.tolentino@csun.edu


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