The University High School Community Engagement Program connects student learning, the notion of social responsibility, and meaningful service.understanding (1) the social, political, and economic contexts of issues such as poverty, health, education, urban life, or the environment; (2) the meaning and role of active citizenship and engagement in one's society; and (3) the needs of the Bay Area community, students' service work will go beyond mere charity to be useful, authentic, and educational.
Students begin their Community Engagement learning in the ninth grade with the San Francisco Neighborhood Investigation Unit. The goal of this unit is for students to gain a better understanding of the city through exploring a particular neighborhood through in class research, an all day field trip for community based learning, and presentations for their peers. Through this unit, students attain a deeper understanding of the seven different neighborhoods that they are most likely to volunteer with during their involvement in the UHS Community Engagment Program. The ninth-graders go on to engage in a second unit of learning about poverty and homelessness in San Francisco. Students examine various root causes for poverty and homelessness, as well as various demographics of people who face these challenges in their lives. The culmination of this unit is a day-long service-learning/volunteer experience with St. Anthony’s, an organization in the Tenderloin neighborhood “committed to providing the poor of San Francisco with the basic needs and services as a gateway to reclaiming their sense of dignity and progressing toward stability,” (taken from stanthonysf.org).
The Sophomore Community Engagement Program gives students a chance to participate in various group volunteer activities as students continue in class learning about core concepts related to community engagement, which include root causes of a social issue, examining systemic inequity, and learning about different approaches to addressing social issues. The activities sophomores participate in are an opportunity for students to get exposed to different types of community engagement work, with different organizations working to address different social issues. These activities are designed to be engaging, productive, and enjoyable. Through this work, sophomores should get a better idea of what type of work and issues they would like to explore further in their junior and senior years.
In the junior year, students are expected to go deeper in their commitment to addressing the issue. By taking their work into the realm of public policy, or assuming more leadership or responsibility in their agency, students continue to develop the skills, expertise, and attitude to make a difference. Seniors propose a project that will further their development as active citizens. The project may continue with their area of expertise or take them on a new path they are now interested in pursuing. The ultimate goal is to graduate a group of seniors who feel connected to the world about them, see themselves as active citizens, and are equipped with the skills and attitude to effect change where they see it is needed.
(The Community Engagement Program is now part of our Human Development Department.)