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Berkeleyan

The campus’s next-door neighbor, Stiles Hall, turns 120

| 28 January 2004

Compared to its expansive neighbor across Bancroft Way, Stiles Hall is decidedly modest in size. Even though its scrappy staff of seven gets by on an annual operating budget of half a million dollars, the nonprofit community service agency has made notable contributions to Berkeley during its 120 years.

“Historically, Stiles Hall has had a profound influence on the community and individuals who have been a part of it,” says Assistant Vice Chancellor Steve Lustig. “My own history is a case in point: I mentored a 15-year-old in 1965 who had been in prison since age 10. Knowing him influenced my choice to work with youth throughout my career.”

Lustig also pointed out that “Stiles has a reputation for incubating and then spinning off projects, including the university co-ops.” He adds that the nonprofit also functioned as a politically neutral space where controversial speakers like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X spoke before the Free Speech Movement came to Berkeley.

Today, Stiles Hall provides a mix of mentoring and tutoring programs that commit to serving youth for up to 10 years, as well as a companionship program for the elderly, a mental-health internship, training for students to coach local youth-sports teams, and internships for students who assess the flight risk of defendants new to the Berkeley-Albany Municipal Court.

Envisioning alternatives
“Through the programs we offer, school-age students get to be mentored by students who have backgrounds similar to their own,” says Jerlena Griffin, board president of Stiles Hall. “Hopefully, this helps them envision an alternative to their current situations and will motivate them to positive changes.”

Griffin has been affiliated with the organization for eight years. “When I came here from Los Angeles, I was impressed by Stiles Hall’s history,” she says, “and was amazed that it has been very vibrant and a part of the community since its founding in 1884.”

“Stiles offers Cal students opportunities to connect with the larger community: to give back by giving forward,” says Christina Maslach, Berkeley’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. “The sustained mentoring students do through local schools helps bring the next generation to Cal. It also provides current Cal students with a transformational experience that can be one of the most meaningful aspects of their education.”

On Friday, Feb. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m., Stiles Hall is hosting an anniversary celebration and fundraiser at the International House, featuring an address by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Those who purchase a $1,000 table may invite seven guests and will be seated with three low-income students whose attendance they will be underwriting. A single seat can be reserved for $100.

For information, call 841-6010 or e-mail info@stileshall.org.