Mural that reads Love is the Revolution

Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good

Engage San Francisco Partnerships

Academic Partnerships

Through student learning, research and teaching consistent with University of San Francisco’s Mission and Vision 2028, this university-wide initiative supports African American neighbors living below San Francisco’s poverty level to achieve their full potential in education, health, career development, and housing.

In support of our goal to enhance student learning and faculty research in the Jesuit tradition with key connections to the University of San Francisco’s Mission and Vision 2028, USF faculty and students partner with community members and organizations to address community-identified needs via community engaged research and learning partnerships.

Some select examples from across campus include:

  • Faculty members and students in community-engaged learning courses have partnered with the YMCA, Magic Zone and other out of school time programs to support after school programming.
  • Master in Public Health students completed community needs assessments and provided original research on the challenges of housing and service provision in the Fillmore.
  • Undergraduate students in the Martín-Baró (Professor David Holler) and Esther Madriz (Professor Stephanie Sears) Living-Learning Communities collaborated with community leaders to create the Changemakers publication.
  • Law professor and nationally recognized mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) leader Professor Rhonda Magee provided a community based MBSR training for Western Addition service providers.
  • School of Management faculty Professor Monika Hudson collaborated with community based organization Brothers for Change to publish a report on the Muni Substation at the corner of Fillmore and Turk.
  • School of Politics faculty Professor James Taylor worked with New Community Leadership Foundation on their Jamestown Commemoration project.
  • School of Management faculty Professor Roger Chen and his Executive MBA students collaborated with the Success Centers of San Francisco on strategic projects for their long-term planning.
  • First year students in the Black Achievement, Success and Engagement Program and their professors Candice Harrison and Dominique Broussard worked with community based organizations Brothers for Change, Rosa Parks Senior Center, and Hamilton Recreation Center to gather community histories.
  • Annually, School of Nursing and Health Professions faculty and students support annual health fairs and peace festivals in the Fillmore.
  • Performing Arts and Social Justice faculty Professor Christine Young and Handful Player’s staff built a pipeline to support USF student internships.
  • The African American Shakespeare Company worked with a School of Education graduate student Bria Temple to create study guides for teachers to use with children who attend their performances.

For more information contact Karin Cotterman at

Community Partnerships

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. For more information, email

Community Events

Check out the Mo’MAGIC calendar for events in the Western Addition!

ESF Community Partner Award

To recognize community partners, in 2017, Engage San Francisco launched the Engage San Francisco Community Partnership Award. The inaugural award was given to the partners in Mo’MAGIC’s summer reading program which serves Western Addition youth by preventing summer learning loss. In Spring 2018 we awarded the community activists who have provided vision, leadership and knowledge that have informed the Changemakers Project. Their advisement, suggestions, connections and knowledge have been instrumental to this project.

2020 Awardees

SFUSD Literacy Partnership Co-Educators

  • Remi Nakamoto, Literacy Coordinator, Rosa Parks Elementary
  • Megan Stoltz, Literacy Coach, William Cobb Elementary

2019 Awardees

Health and Wellness Partners

  • Westside Services: Dr. Mary Anne Jones and Kimiah Tucker 

2018 Awardees

Community Activists Who Partner with the Changemakers Project

  • Ms. Altheda Carrie
  • Ms. Brenda Harris
  • Ms. Lynnette White

2017 Awardees

Partners with the MATR Summer Reading Program

  • Booker T. Washington Community Service Center
  • Magic Zone
  • Prince Hall Learning Center

Partnership Request

We cannot promise that your request for student volunteers or a community engaged research or learning partnership will result in a match with a faculty member, course, student group, or student. However, emailing us your request allows us to more easily promote and share your request with members of the USF community in the hopes that a match between your request and faculty/student interests works out.

To submit a request, send an email to

Community Partnership Innovation Fund (CIPF)

There must be at least one USF-affiliated applicant and one applicant from an organization providing services in the Western Addition. Funds will support teams in completing a well-defined project that supports the achievement of a community-identified need, while deepening their partnership through an intentional and collaborative process.

Applications are currently on hiatus, but please stay tuned for more updates in the future. For questions, please send an email to


Goals and Outcomes


  • Cultivate and deepen transformational partnerships.
  • Work to achieve measurable community-identified outcomes in the Western Addition. 
  • Participate in thoughtful, intentional and on-going critical engagement that moves from a conception of service as charity to a notion of service as social justice.
  • Incorporate best practices in campus-community engagement.


  • Teams will embrace an asset-based model of university and community partnership that is grounded in authentic relationships.
  • Teams will support the provision of wraparound services for children and families in the Western Addition (e.g through capacity building, professional development, assessment, etc).
  • Teams will elevate mutually enriching relationships through long-term commitments and resource sharing. 

AmeriCorps VISTA

Learn more about how this VISTA program brings together California colleges and universities and read about the Success Center here.  For more information contact

Learn more about our current 2020-21 VISTA, Thea Karakalos.  

And meet our amazing VISTA alumni: Sudeepto Chakraborty here and here, Zorrae Bowie here and here, Michael Anderson here and here, and read about the research that Jacqueline V. Brown completed during her time as a VISTA and MPH graduate student.

Changemakers — San Francisco African American Histories and Lived Experiences

As part of their mission to explore issues of diversity, inequality, social justice, and social change. Students in both the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars and the Martín-Baró Scholars Programs devoted 3+ years of community-engagement work, research, and writing to bring to fruition a 200-page book that collects all 95 biographies. The Changemakers community-engaged learning project is the result of more than 80 student contributors, multiple faculty members, research assistants, librarians, and countless community members who shared their knowledge and expertise in bringing the publication to print.

Engage San Francisco Literacy

School Year Literacy Programs

Our school year Engage San Francisco Literacy program prepares, places and supports USF students to be highly trained reading tutors. We educate USF students with knowledge of teaching and learning to read, adverse childhood events, community history in the Fillmore/Western Addition, and educational equity as a lifelong disposition.

We partner with two San Francisco public schools - Rosa Parks Elementary School and Cobb Elementary – and with three after-school programs – Booker T. Washington Community Center, Magic Zone, and Prince Hall Learning Center.

All tutors in their first and second semester of employment with the Literacy program are enrolled in a one-credit course, which focuses on the development of their tutoring skills and capacities. Additionally, all tutors who have worked for more than two semesters participate in bi-monthly leadership meetings, facilitated by Engage San Francisco’s literacy coordinator. For more information contact Dresden Smith,

Summer Literacy Programs

Professor Helen Maniates supports the Heart 2 Heart Summer Reading program, which works with Western Addition youth to prevent summer learning loss.

USF/MoMAGIC/Heart2Heart Summer Reading Program supports children in grades K-5 from the Western Addition.

Launched in 2004, and housed in the USF School of Education under the leadership of Professor Helen Maniates, Director of the Masters in Teaching Reading Program, the Summer Reading Program is designed and implemented in partnership with USF students and community based organization staff. From research on previous summer programs in 2016 and 2017, they have documented a statistically significant increase in words read correctly per minute, reading fluency, and reading comprehension on grade level reading passages for students in grades 1-5. Students in grades 1-5 who attended 70% of the 2017 program showed a greater increase in motivation to read than the aggregate of all students enrolled. The summers of 2018 and 2019 we implemented a Middle School component that includes regular field trips to USF. For Information, contact

Leading for Justice

Engage San Francisco has been involved in the Place-Based Justice Network since its inception in 2014. Engage San Francisco and University of San Francisco have hosted gatherings for the network, co-facilitated workshops at summer institutes and via PBJN’s online continuous learning meetings. All the while we have been humbled and reinvigorated by the collaborative learning environment this network creates.

Learn more about the place-based justice network

Engage San Francisco staff present regularly at national gatherings to share lessons learned, particularly in relation to the intersections of race and place-based work.

View examples of ESF staff presentations and campus-community partnership publications.

  • “Learning from Seattle (and other cities): Place-Based Community Engagement for Justice and Equity, Campus Compact, May 2020.

    “Race and Place Based Work,” workshop series at St. Mary’s College

    “External/Internal Accountability through a Racial Justice Lens,” Place Based Justice Institute, June 2018.

    “Engaging Race: Building Our Capacity to Listen, Reflect, and Discuss How Race Impacts Communities, Both on Campus and Off.” Preconference session, Campus Compact National Conference March 2018.

    “Reflecting on Whiteness,” Diving Deep, Indiana Campus Compact, February 2018.

    “Racial Equity,” Place Based Justice Network, January 2018.

    “Reflecting on Whiteness: Contemplative Practice, White Privilege, and Racism,” Association of Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, October 2017.

    “Challenged and Constructed Realities: How Lived Experiences of the McCarthy Center/ Engage San Francisco Inform Work in the Community,” Imagining America, October 2017.

    “Different Approaches to Place-Based Community Engagement,” Place Based Justice Network, August 2017.

    “Race and Place-Based Engagement,” Place Based Justice Network, August 2017.

    “Reflecting on Whiteness,” Association of Jesuit Universities Diversity Conference, August 2017.

    “Through the Eye of The Needle: Building the Capacity of White Faculty and Staff at the University of San Francisco: Contemplation and Capacity,” August 2017.

    “Reflecting on Whiteness: Lessons from a Pilot Program,” Continuums of Service, Denver, April 2017.

    “Engage San Francisco: Internal and External Identities,” Continuums of Service Conference, Denver, April 2017.

    “Reflecting on Whiteness: Lessons from a Pilot Program to Expand our Capacity to Work with Race,” Webinar, California Campus Compact, November 2016.

    “Examining Structures of Exclusion: Building the Capacity of White Faculty and Staff,” IARSLCE, October 2016.

    “Transforming Institutions: Engagement, Equity and Inclusion,” Campus Compact 30th Anniversary, March 2016.

    “Challenging Mindsets to Advance Diversity, High-Quality Learning and Student Success,”
    American Association of Colleges and Universities, March 2016.

  • In addition to workshops, presentations and speaking appearances, ESF staff have published works related to campus-community partnerships.

    “Critical Hope in Leadership,” by N. Nondabula and K. Cotterman, in Pigza, J. M., Owen, J. E., & Associates (Eds.) (2020). Women and leadership development in college: A facilitation resource. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

    “Jesuits, Jazz, and Justice: Remembering the Past and Working for a More Just Future” in Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Diversity and Democracy.

    “Campus Community Literacy Initiatives as Preparation for Civic Life”, by D. Donahue, M. Autry and K. Cotterman, published in The Good Society highlights literacy efforts as a tool for creating a more just world

Partnership with Athletics

These games allow Western Addition youth and their families to attend a USF Collegiate level athletic game free of charge. Frequently, community members perform at half time or make an appearance on court. Check the athletics schedule or email Vinnie Longo for details about upcoming games.

Western Addition History and Resources

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.


Take a Community Walk

If you have a class or group that is interested in a community walk to learn more about Engage San Francisco and the Western Addition/ Fillmore, please send an email to

Gleeson Library Western Addition Resources

Thank you to USF reference librarian Carol Spector for creating the Western Addition resource page. If you have additions or corrections, please email Karin Cotterman, Director of Engage San Francisco at