Campus, Town, Schools Join In Berkeley Alliance

by Irene Hegarty

The Berkeley City Council and School Board, at a joint meeting Nov. 19, unanimously endorsed plans to form a community-wide partnership with the university to address specific community needs.

Under the umbrella of the Berkeley Alliance, the city, school district and the campus will work to link Berkeley's academic and technical resources to projects benefiting the city's youth, community programs and other issues of mutual interest. It is expected that other partners, such as community-based organizations and businesses, will also become part of the program.

Building on collaborations that already exist between the campus and the city, the Berkeley Alliance will link faculty research, undergraduate and graduate student interns and volunteers, and university class activities with identified projects that would benefit from a community-wide approach.

Some potential projects include:

  • Developing a Disaster-Resistant Community: Providing research assistance to quantify and map hazards, develop mitigation programs and design a sustainable emergency readiness program.

  • Adolescent Health Initiative: Supporting and expanding medical and mental health services to adolescent and pre-adolescent youth.

  • School-to-Career Programs: Connecting academic, community and business resources with Berkeley High School to develop new programs and evaluate existing ones.

  • Youth Services Data Integration Project: Improving services to youth and families through inter-agency collaboration and data sharing.

  • Prenatal to Kindergarten Services: Preparing Berkeley children for school success through a comprehensive prenatal through preschool program serving Berkeley children and their families.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the university, city and school district to work together to make a difference in the community, particularly in the lives of young people," said Chancellor Robert Berdahl.

"It also offers hands-on, real world experience for our students and a chance for them to give back to the community."

Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean cited the critical need for community support of projects such as the Berkeley High School Health Clinic and the Prenatal Through Preschool Initiative. She spoke of the safety benefit for everyone in making Berkeley a "disaster-resistant" community.

"It is imperative that the city, the university and the school district direct resources where and when they can do the most good," Dean said. "The Berkeley Alliance will make this a reality."

School Board President Miriam Topel was similarly enthusiastic.

"There are a number of potential projects that would benefit from this collaboration, such as coordinating services to support our students' educational achievement and developing a comprehensive school-to-career program," she said.

The campus's Institute of Urban and Regional Development will coordinate the Berkeley Alliance, which has received initial funding support of approximately $100,000 from the university, including staffing costs.

The city has pledged staff support and in-kind contributions. In addition, outside funding will be sought to support the partnership and its projects.

The Berkeley Alliance proposal had previously been reviewed and endorsed by the city's 2x2 Committee, a liaison between the city council and school board, and was presented to the full council and board in November by IURD Director Elizabeth Deakin; Irene Hegarty, the campus's director of Community Relations; and Arrietta Chakos, assistant to the city manager.



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