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Engage San Francisco


Engage San Francisco is an intentional, systematic and transformative university-community initiative that will achieve community-identified outcomes supporting children, youth and families in the Western Addition through student learning, research and teaching consistent with University of San Francisco’s mission and vision 2028. PDF of Planning and Implementation Document

The University of San Francisco is well positioned to contribute directly to a more just San Francisco while advancing USF’s core values of social responsibility and a culture of service that respects and promotes the dignity of every person by thoughtfully preparing students, staff and faculty to work collaboratively with the Western Addition, and employing experiential pedagogy such as service-learning and community-based research. This initiative includes faculty, staff and students from all five colleges at USF, (Management, Nursing and Health Professions, Law, Education, and Arts and Sciences), and the Division of Student Life. Engage San Francisco is hyper-local in its focus, asset-based in its philosophy, and multifaceted in its approach as it builds upon existing community partnerships.

Context: The Western Addition and the University of San Francisco are deeply interconnected, not just geographically, but through history and intergenerational relationships. As the City’s first university we are uniquely situated to address issues related to the poverty and inequality in the Western Addition, and we do this work in partnership with residents and service providers to address a lack of access to high quality, affordable housing, healthcare, and education. This initiative draws upon the history of community engagement at the University of San Francisco and recognizes the unique potential of working with residents to achieve community-identified goals.

Contact Karin Cotterman at and see below for more information on Engage San Francisco. Click here for a PDF of the Working Group involved in the planning process for Engage San Francisco.

Initiative Goals and Strategies

Goal #1: Contribute to and support a vibrant, thriving community for children, youth and families in the Western Addition. To achieve this goal, Engage San Francisco will work in partnership with Western Addition community-based organizations, agencies and offices of the City and County of San Francisco, philanthropists, and community residents to respond to community-identified needs that focus on the strategic areas of emphasis.

  • Strategy #1 Academic Support
    • Outcome 1.1: Western Addition children enter Kindergarten mentally, socially and academically prepared for school
    • Outcome 1.2: Youth residing in Western Addition graduate from high school or receive GEDs and are college or career ready
    • Outcome 1.3: There is an increase in university enrollment and completion for Western Addition residents
    • Outcome 1.4: Western Addition youth become change agents in their own community.
  • Strategy #2 Health Care Delivery
    • Outcome 2.1: Western Addition residents have increased access to preventative health care screening services, including mental health and prenatal care.
    • Outcome 2.2: The chronic health outcomes of Western Addition residents are addressed in an ongoing, systematic manner.
  • Strategy #3 Safe, Affordable Housing
    • Outcome 3.1: More Western Addition Youth reside in safe, affordable housing.
    • Outcome 3.2: Public space in the Western Addition is transformed to reflect the history of the Western Addition.
Goal #2: Enhance student learning and faculty research in the Jesuit tradition with key connections to University of San Francisco’s Mission and Vision 2028. Engage San Francisco is inherently an interdisciplinary initiative that strives to be connected to every school and college at USF and include thoughtful preparation for students and faculty to work collaboratively with the Western Addition.
  • Strategy #4 Engage The University of San Francisco
    • Outcome 4.1: Increase in community-based research by faculty with the Western Addition.
    • Outcome 4.2: Increase in service-learning courses with partnerships in the Western Addition.
    • Outcome 4.3: More tenure track professors and more USF students learning about the Western Addition.

Map of Western Addition And Resources

Where is the Western Addition?

The boundaries of the Western Addition for the purposes of the Engage San Francisco Initiative are informed by those identified by the Western Addition Service Provider Cohort as described in the 2011 report:

  • Van Ness Avenue on the East end of the neighborhood (abuts the Civic Center)
  • Baker Street on the West end of the neighborhood (one block from USF)
  • Sutter Street on the North Side of the neighborhood (abuts Pacific Heights neighborhood)
  • Fulton Street on the South side of the neighborhood (abuts Haight neighborhood)

Western Addition map

Below are links to some web resources that provide an introductory overview of the history of the Western Addition. This list is not complete. For more resources, or to make suggestions, please contact

Chamberland, C. (1997, Spring). The House that Bop Built: Fillmore Cultural Capital. California History Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Fillmore Timeline 1860 - 2001. (n.d.). PBS. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Kamiya, G. (2013) Western Addition: A Basic History - Historical Essay. Originally excerpted from Cool Gray City of Love. New York, New York: Bloomsbury Publishing

Pepin, E. (n.d.). The Fillmore District, San Francisco. The Fillmore District, San Francisco. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Rescuing Black History in the Fillmore. (2012, November 5) Using San Francisco History.

First person Accounts of the Fillmore/ Western Addition:
Frederick, J. (n.d.). What Happened to the Fillmore?. The Bold Italic. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Carlsson, C. (n.d.). Redevelopment and Patronage Politics. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Chen, A & Bass, A (n.d.) Rewriting Fillmore's Development History. Retrieved May 19, 2014.

Close, C. (2008, July 21). How “Urban Renewal” Destroyed San Francisco’s Fillmore District. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Cuenod, C. (n.d.). Redevelopment A-1 and Origin of St. Francis Square. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Cuenod, C. (n.d.). The ILWU and Western Addition Redevelopment A-2. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Disconnected Youth in San Francisco: A Roadmap to Improve the Life Chances of San Francisco’s Most Vulnerable Young Adults. (2008, January 1). Retrieved May 19, 2014

Fillmore Redevelopment. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2014

Klein, J. (2008). A Community Lost: Urban Renewal and Displacement in San Francisco’s Western Addition District. Unpublished manuscript, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Lai, C. (2012). The Racial Triangulation of Space: The Case of Urban Renewal in San Francisco's Fillmore District. Annals Of The Association Of American Geographers, 102(1), 151-170. doi:10.1080/00045608.2011.583572

Rosen, M., & Sullivan, W.From Urban Renewal and Displacement to Economic Inclusion: San Francisco Affordable Housing Policy 1978-2012. Poverty & Race Research Action Council. Retrieved May 19, 2014

WACO Attacks Redevelopment. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2014

Western Addition A-1. (n.d.). Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure :. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Western Addition A-2. (n.d.). Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure :. Retrieved May 19, 2014

African-American History:
Brahinsky, R. (2011). "Hush Puppies," Communalist Politics, and Demolition Governance: The Rise and Fall of the Black Fillmore. In C. Carlsson & L. Elliott (Eds.) Ten Years That Shook The City: San Francisco 1968-78 (pp. 141-153). San Francisco, CA: City Lights Foundation Books.

Henry, B., & Carlsson, C. (2004). The Race Card. The Political Edge (). San Francisco, CA: City Lights Foundation

Q&A Categories. (n.d.). What's the History of San Francisco's Fillmore Neighborhood?. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Tarwater-Scharp, L. (2011, February 23).The African-American experience in the Bay Area; the postwar years, part one. Retrieved May 19, 2014

Key Components of Engage San Francisco

Guided by the Mission of the University of San Francisco and Vision 2028
Engage San Francisco will contribute to an “Academically rigorous experience” that “cultivates mutually enriching relationships with San Francisco”… and “embraces diversity.”

Embraces an Asset-Based Model of University and Community Partnerships
Engage San Francisco will draw upon what USF already does, including community-based research, service-learning classes, and community involvement programs as well as the vitality of children and youth serving organizations and institutions in the Western Addition and throughout San Francisco.

Works to Achieve Measurable Community-Identified Outcomes for Children and Youth in the Western Addition
Engage San Francisco will support the provision of out of school engagement and wraparound services for children and families in the Western Addition through collaboration with community-based organizations and institutions.

Engages the Entire University in a Multifaceted and Interdisciplinary Manner
Engage San Francisco will include and support faculty, students, and staff from the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Nursing and Health Professions, School of Law, and School of Management and Student Life.

Cultivates Transformational Partnerships
Engage San Francisco will foster authentic, democratic, and transformational relationships through long-term commitments and resource sharing, grounded in authentic partnerships.

Thoughtfully Prepares Students for Critical Engagement
Engage San Francisco will embrace a critical approach to student engagement that includes thoughtful, intentional preparation and ongoing reflection to move students from a conception of service as charity to a notion of service as justice.

Incorporates Best Practices in Campus-Community Engagement
Engage San Francisco will draw upon and contribute to nationally recognized models and scholarly literature on best practices in effective engagement with communities.

Assessment and Evaluation
Engage SF will develop outcomes and activities based on community identified needs. Activities will be measurable and assessment and evaluation tools will be used to ensure that strategies are effectively achieving our goals.

Community Engagement Grants Recipients 2014 - Note 2014 Grant recipients are asked to wait one year before re-applying 

Congratulations to the USF faculty, staff, students, supporters, community partners and their stakeholders who received five (5) inaugural campus-community partnerships under Engage San Francisco last June. Each of the five partnerships below applied for and have been awarded Community Engagement Grants for their unique projects that seek to support community-based learning, research and activities in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood.

Handful Players’ Arts Education Internship Program
Ms. Judith Cohen, Executive Director, Handful Players
Ms. Christine Young, Assistant Professor, Theater Program, USF

Handful Players, committed to the development youth in San Francisco's Western Addition through the vehicle of musical theater, will collaborate with USF’s Performing Arts & Social Justice (PASJ) program to create an arts education internship and community service project for PASJ students with a theater concentration. USF students will have the opportunity to work directly with underserved youth and observe and be mentored by professional teaching artists in Handful Players’ after-school and summer musical theater programs at the Western Addition Beacon Center.

Shake-It-Up: Study Guides and Workshops
Ms. Sherri Young, Executive Director, African American Shakespeare Company
Ms. Bria Temple, USF Student, School of Education and School of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Arturo Cortez, Lecturer, USF School of Education

A committee comprised of teaching artists, educators, youth representatives and service-learners will develop content and techniques to enhance life-long creativity and learning through the arts. The group will develop two new study guides for The Tempest and Xtigone (new adaptation based on Antigone); the group will also review and refresh the African American Shakespeare Company’s Cinderella study guide for K - 5th grade. These resources will simultaneously build and strengthen reading and comprehension skills by using theater games, drama techniques, and study guide content for students. The committee will provide content, tests games and exercises for the classroom, and incorporate learning materials and quizzes for the study guide.

Strengthening Community Engagement and Best Practices in the SF Western Addition by Identifying Needs through Networking and Photo Voice Experiences
Dr. Betty Taylor, Professor, USF School of Education
Mr. Rodney Chin, Executive Director, Buchanan YMCA
Dr. Hayin Kim, Director of Community Schools, SFUSD

This project will identify and develop a pilot community-based participatory collaborative team project within the Western Addition community of San Francisco concurrent with the University of San Francisco’s core values and strategies of community engagement and the community’s identifiable needs. The project creates a two-pronged qualitative research approach to the development of community partnerships by “giving voice” to individuals, groups and agencies and organization that do not usually have a voice within their community to organize collaborative change. The communication networks and partnerships are strengthened through community Blog sites and gathering stories through the methodology of participatory photography (Photo Voice). Specifically, the project will engage families and young people, community organizations and USF faculty and students in a collaborative partnership. The results of the project will provide a platform for facilitative community conversations and empowerment of those individuals and groups that are often perceived as marginalized in our society.

The Village Project: Aspects of Success
Dr. Terry Patterson, Professor, USF School of Education
Ms. Adrian Williams, Executive Director, The Village Project

This project will assess the effectiveness of various components of the Village Project, a decade long independent activity led by community activist Adrian Williams. The Village Project provides diverse activities and counseling for youth living in public housing in the Western Addition. Both Dr. Patterson and Ms. Williams will participate in the design and implementation of a systematic assessment of the various activities to determine their differential effectiveness, with the goal of placing more resources into them, de-emphasizing those that are less effective, and developing new ones. Dr. Patterson and Ms. Williams will work together to implement findings and publicize them to the local and professional communities. Dr. Patterson will also engage graduate students in service-learning of community advocacy and research methods, and ask them to commit to ongoing engagement.

Young African Americans Re-Connecting with African Traditions
Dr. Pascal Bokar Thiam, Lecturer, Music
Archbishop King, Church of St. John Coltrane

The purpose of this project is to bring young African American boys and girls of the Western Addition to understand, appreciate and reconnect with some of the cultural traits of West African Culture. This program will strengthen their sense of identity in an American society that has removed them culturally from their historical cultural base and sacred traditions. Strong identity is the engine of positive motivation and young African Americans need to reconnect with a sense of cultural traditions and values that go beyond the American existential timeline so they can overcome the obstacles of racism and indifference from a stronger internal space of identity. This course provides an insight on the cultural contributions of Africans and African Americans of the Diaspora through History.

Conceptual Framework

Our conceptual framework draws from multiple books and articles focused on community development, asset based partnership, neighborhood focused initiatives, service-learning pedagogy and community-based research methodology. Here are a few key articles the serve as guideposts for our work. A more extensive collection of readings is available at the McCarthy Center, contact for more information.

Partnerships and Transformation

Enos, S., and Morton, K. (2003) Developing a theory and practice of campus-community partnerships. 20-41. in Building Partnerships for Service-Learning. Jossey Bass (available at the McCarthy Center)

Hoyt, L. (2010). A city-campus engagement theory from, and for, practice. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Fall 2010, 75-88

Partnerships and Assets

Kretzman, J. and McKnight, J. (1993) Building Communities from the Inside Out. The Asset Based Community Development Institute, Chicago Il (available at the McCarthy Center)

Blanchard, A. Building Vibrant Communities: An Appreciative Approach to Working in Neighborhood. (2011). Neighborhood Centers, Inc.

Partnerships and Social Justice

Marullo, S. , & Edwards, B. (2000). From charity to justice: The potential of university-community collaboration for social change. American Behavioral Scientist

Kolvenbach, P. (2000) The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education