Skip to main content

October 2014

Thriving Neighbors Initiative Bonds Santa Clara University and Its Neighbors

The Thriving Neighbors Initiative is a one-year-old partnership between Santa Clara University and the Greater Washington community in San Jose. A celebratory Open House will be held at Washington Elementary School on Oct. 28.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 13, 2014  -- Santa Clara University will celebrate the Thriving Neighbors Initiative (TNI), a one-year-old partnership between Santa Clara University and the Greater Washington community in San Jose, at an Open House at Washington Elementary School on Oct. 28.

The TNI  is a project to promote strategic ties between Santa Clara University and the Greater Washington neighborhood in San Jose. The partnership also is a means of expanding educational choice and resources for members of the Greater Washington neighborhood, where one in five residents live in households below the poverty line. The partnership also seeks to create new pathways to higher education for students of the tight-knit, vibrant, and motivated community.

Santa Clara has for more than 30 years sent upwards of 1,200 students a year into numerous neighborhoods in the greater San Jose area, for eight-week community-based learning experiences.

TNI is different, involving multiple departments on campus working alongside the community on projects selected by the community as high priorities, many of which are more open-ended in duration.

“With our Thriving Neighbors Initiative, we were seeking to immerse the whole university in something more lasting and intimate, which we can build upon as time progresses,” said Michael McCarthy, S.J., executive director of the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at SCU.  “It’s a deep commitment, one we feel will benefit both of us for years to come.”

Activities and plans for the initiative include:

*An after-school tutoring program for 4th and 5th graders, on site in portable classrooms at Washington Elementary. The program, which supplements  tutoring done by many parents in the library after school, is opening SCU students’ eyes to the potential of the grade schoolers, one of whom wrote a poem as part of a Writing Our Stories – Changing the World, project, which read in part:

“I plant seeds with my life by keeping moving that shovel down, down, and down.
I plant seeds with my heart hoping that one day they will grow and give fruit.”

*Working with the area’s active and engaged Madre a Madre mother’s group, to see if there are legal, health, or education needs for which Santa Clara University’s resources could be useful;

*A business school project that researches and consults with local businesses for projects such as workshops to increase entrepreneurial skills;

*University- funded Thriving Neighbors Grants for discrete projects that involve collaborative, faculty-student-community and team-based program design, implementation and evaluation, including: 

**A “Resilient Families” project designed to support resilience in young children through parenting. The project is a team effort between SCU liberal studies Prof. Barbara Burns and Madre group member Adriana Leon; 

  **A pilot program giving IPads for preschoolers, being implemented in partnership with SCU’s education professor Marco Bravo and Madre members Patty Lozano, Liz Molina, Marlene Monroy, Beatriz Pérez, and María Tovar;

**Adding technology and safety factors to a walking group formed by the Madres, partnered with Laura Chu and Kat Sexton of SCU’s biology department and Madre members Jazmín Ballesteros, Juana Escamilla, Jessica López, Eva Marrón, and Arcelia Ramírez; 

**An “Adult Education” project, underway with Lucia Varona and Maria Bauluz of SCU Modern Languages and Literatures, and Madre member Elena Barba, to create a collaborative learning space for SCU students, faculty and staff and mothers and fathers of Washington Elementary. The initiative will support the creation of educational programming and offer opportunities for shared discussion on a variety of salient topics.


Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121



Washington Elementary,Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education