UC Berkeley News


 The UC Botanical Garden and the Lawrence Hall of Science partnered with local schools and community groups to develop outdoor gardens as "labs" in which kids can study environment, nutrition, math, and science. (Lauri Twitchell photo)

Teaming up to tackle local problems
The campus and its East Bay partners, working closely together

| 22 September 2005

The sixth annual University/Community Partnerships recognition reception was held Wednesday, Sept. 14, at University House, to honor the achievements of individuals and groups from the Berkeley campus and the community whose joint efforts benefit local residents. Through creative collaborations, university and community members share information, research, and expertise as they work to address a variety of pressing problems.

Hosted by Chancellor Birgeneau and his wife, Mary Catherine, this year's reception honored five programs that promote literacy, nutrition, physical fitness, access to vision screening, and a range of goals in the areas of urban redevelopment, environmental stewardship and education, math, and science.

"The importance and mutual benefits of our university and community partnerships cannot be overstated," said the chancellor. "UC Berkeley participates in more than 200 community services programs, which originate through faculty research, individual volunteer efforts, as part of service-learning courses, or through requests from community agencies and nonprofits. For students, volunteer service augments their learning and research, builds leadership skills, and teaches them important lessons about civic engagement."

These five projects were recognized at last week's event:

Summer BUILD Project: Building Healthy Minds and Bodies - This literacy, nutrition, and physical-fitness program is a multi-partner effort to help low-income children in South and West Berkeley. About 80 Berkeley students tutor up to 1,000 children as part of the program. In addition, the School of Public Health gives the students pedometers and provides them with health and nutrition information. Campus sponsors include the Cal Corps Public Service Center, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Public Health, and the UC Retirement Center, joined by community partners Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Berkeley Alliance, several City of Berkeley departments, Bay Area Hispanic Institute for Advancement, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, Extended Day Care at Washington Elementary and Rosa Parks Elementary, Frances Albrier Community Center, James Kenney Recreation Center, R.I.S.E. at Berkeley High, and the Young Adult Project.

History/Social Science Project: Oakland Unified Collaboration - In this professional-development project now in its ninth year, faculty and graduate students from Berkeley's history department train Oakland history and social-science teachers in up-to-date methods and curricula, expanding the teachers' skills and improving their classroom performance. In the past year the program began providing professional development in expository writing for two Oakland elementary schools. The Department of History is joined by community partners Cleveland Elementary, Montclair Elementary, Thornhill Elementary, Glenview Elementary, and Oakland Technical High School, all in the Oakland Unified School District.

Vision Screening for Berkeley Unified Students - In this project, the School of Optometry provides state-mandated vision-screening services to the Berkeley Unified School District. In exchange, Berkeley municipal employees increase their patronage of the optometry clinic at a 20-percent discount - thus offsetting the cost of delivering screening services to Berkeley schoolchildren. Joining the School of Optometry are community partners Berkeley Alliance, Berkeley Unified School District, City of Berkeley, Berkeley Arts Magnet at Whittier School, City of Franklin Microsociety Magnet School, Cragmont School, Emerson School, Jefferson School, John Muir School, LeConte School, Malcolm X Arts and Academic Magnet School, Oxford School, Rosa Parks Environmental Science Magnet School, Thousand Oaks Arts and Technology Magnet School, and Washington School.

Growing Learning Communities - This collaboration between the UC Botanical Garden Education Program, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and 18 local elementary schools in five East Bay school districts strengthens the teaching skills and leadership abilities of K-6 teachers through professional development linked to school gardens as outdoor science and mathematics laboratories. The resulting vegetables and flora are just a bonus: Community members and parents are drawn into the schools as project participants, teachers gain new teaching and leadership skills, and young students learn lessons about the environment, nutrition, and collaboration in addition to science and math.

Community groups that support the venture include the Hayward Nutritional Learning Communities Project, Willard Lesson Study Team, Santa Rosa Lesson Study Team, Joaquin Miller Hillside Garden Club, Laurel Neighborhood Group, Cherryland Garden Committee and Parent Group, Snow School Parent Garden Committee, Ruus-Peixoto School PTA, and Franklin Garden Collaborative.

Y-PLAN (Youth - Plan Learn Act Now) - Graduate students in this interdisciplinary course mentor 10th- and 11th- grade high-school students on varied urban-revitalization projects. Last semester's project, a redesign of the historic West Oakland Central Railway Station, involved more than 35 students from McClymonds High School in researching and developing a vision for the Beaux-Arts building that was once the Oakland terminus of the Southern Pacific railway and the site of the first black union. At the end of the course, the students presented their ideas for the train station and its plaza to a jury at Oakland's City Hall. In voting to approve a developer's proposal for the station, the City Council voted to review several of the students' ideas.

The Institute for Urban and Regional Development's Center for Cities and Schools, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Walter Hood, Dean Harrison Fraker of the College of Environmental Design, and UC Office of the President's UC Links were joined by community partners McClymonds High School, BRIDGE Housing and other West Oakland developers, Oakland Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, and the West Oakland Neighborhood Association.