Global Perspective

Counseling Psychology Department Teams Up with San Francisco Human Rights Commission

Faculty and students from the Counseling Psychology department are partnering with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission to assess the outcomes of Black to the Future, a multimillion dollar initiative funding a call to action for African American community empowerment.

Black to the Future supports the strengthening of a wide range of services for black youth and young adults in San Francisco, particularly in the areas of family support, advocacy, education, wellness, workforce, and violence prevention.

In partnership with San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director, Sheryl Davis MA ‘02, Drs. Malik S. Henfield, associate professor in the school counseling program and Lisa De La Rue, assistant professor in the marriage and family counseling program, along with school counseling student, Max Greiner MA ‘18, are designing and implementing evaluations to uncover the strengths and areas of improvement of Black to the Future's model.

“We are at the initial stages of this work; however, initial results suggest that Black to the Future has the potential to make a significant impact on African American families in San Francisco,” says Dr. Henfield.

Working closely with Director Davis, the USF team plans to utilize their analysis to help produce a wraparound school-family-community service model that can be applied in other urban cities. “I am excited for the partnership!” says Director Davis. “We are finding ways to document and recognize local strategies for community engagement and empowerment. A commitment to honoring the leadership of youth and nonprofits that is foreign to most institutions.”

This partnership is one of several ways the Counseling Psychology department strives to align with USF’s vision of fashioning a more humane and just world. Through partnerships such as community wellness events and joining relief efforts in response to Hurricane Harvey, school counseling students are actively engaged in seeking out and addressing areas of community inequities as well as collapsing institutional boundaries between service professionals.

“By actively engaging with initiatives that reshape the opportunity landscape for marginalized communities, we become both more sensitive to the needs of the communities in which we work, and also leverage our expertise in counseling in school contexts” explains Mr. Greiner.

The program’s partnership with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission has also expanded to other city-supported initiatives. USF faculty and students have also contributed to the Community Safety Initiative, which networks students academically and professionally as well as with local government. Under Director Davis, these programs share common themes of amplifying community voices and assessing areas of need with integrity and creativity.

Says Dr. Henfield, “Given the current political and social climate, increasing the intersections of school counseling and meaningful social justice initiatives is critical. School counselors must extend their reach beyond the walls of the schools in which they work and make their presence felt in communities. The partnership we’ve built with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission is an example of what is possible.”

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