2016 State of the Campus Mobile Navigation Open

A campuswide commitment to enhancing quality of life in Los Angeles and beyond

foreground shows woman hugging  young man in orange t-shirt printed with “Proyecto MercadoFRESCO”; background shows fresh produce display foreground shows woman hugging  young man in orange t-shirt printed with “Proyecto MercadoFRESCO”; background shows fresh produce display
Proyecto MercadoFRESCO brings corner store makeovers to East L.A. It’s one of many community projects spearheaded by the Fielding School of Public Health.

As a public institution, UCLA has a responsibility to enhance the quality of life of the communities we serve — in Los Angeles, throughout California and around the globe.

We do this in numerous and varied ways, but one inspiring example is through the UCLA Community School in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. The school is a unique partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District that focuses on ensuring its students are qualified to apply to a University of California campus.

teacher kneels beside an elementary-school student who is looking through a book The UCLA Community School, a unique partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District, is proving that an innovative approach to K–12 education can succeed even in an area plagued by poverty and unemployment.

Before the school opened in 2009, only one-third of the neighborhood’s high school students went on to attend college. In the short time since, that figure has nearly tripled: From one recent class of seniors, 95 percent went on to attend college, and one-quarter of the students were admitted to a UC.

Faculty and students at our Graduate School of Education & Information Studies have continued to transform public schools in many other ways, including through innovative programs like Center X, and by providing training for math and science teachers. Their work is complemented by numerous departments across campus that support partnerships with local schools aimed at improving students’ math and science skills; introducing them to discussions about sustainability, social justice and leadership; and exposing them to the performing and visual arts.

three people, including two in Volunteer Day t-shirts, sand a bench; buildings and a palm tree are visible in the background a group of students in Volunteer Day t-shirts rake and sweep an area with embedded boulders
From sanding furniture to clearing trails, UCLA students get a hands-on introduction to civic engagement at the annual UCLA Volunteer Day.

Another critical way students engage with the community is through the Undergraduate Education Initiative’s curriculum-based civic engagement program. UCLA offers structured educational experiences that link faculty, students and community partners in community-based learning.

UCLA’s civic engagement minor is a platform for research for the public good. Last year, more than 2,000 students took part in 400 such programs and internships, earning academic credit while serving local neighborhoods and institutions. Service learning courses explore subjects ranging from hunger and homelessness to educational equity and environmental justice, and they give students the opportunity to work alongside community leaders, build skills in critical thinking and take a hands-on approach to addressing real-world challenges.

In recognition of our outstanding community-based learning efforts, UCLA received the Classification for Community Engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

a man sitting in a chair looks at a student who crouches at his feet while another student writes on a clipboard; more people and a white truck are visible in the background The student-run Mobile Clinic Project brings medical, law, public health and undergraduate students out of the classroom and onto the streets, where they provide care for those who have nowhere else to turn.

For our own students, engaging with the community is a part of the Bruin experience from the first days they step foot on campus. In September, we held our eighth annual UCLA Volunteer Day, sending more than 6,000 students to locations throughout Los Angeles where they painted schools, planted community gardens, interacted with elementary school students and spent time with U.S. veterans. Volunteer Day is one of our newest traditions, but it has quickly become one of our most cherished.

And while many of our incoming students are committed to serving the community before they arrive at UCLA, the event sends a clear message to students — and our region — that service is one of our core values.

a man at a podium addresses a group of six people sitting around tables; all are dressed in suits the man in the foreground holds a selfie stick with an iPhone; a group of 18 men and women smile for the photo
(Left) Rep. Ted Lieu talks to the UCLA delegation that visited Washington, D.C., in December to discuss race, diversity and immigration in America. (Right) Chancellor Gene Block takes a selfie with the group that included 15 undergraduate student leaders. (Top) Rep. Ted Lieu talks to the UCLA delegation that visited Washington, D.C., in December to discuss race, diversity and immigration in America. (Bottom) Chancellor Gene Block takes a selfie with the group that included 15 undergraduate student leaders.

Students also play a role in UCLA’s relationships with local, state and federal officials. In December, for example, 15 student leaders traveled with Chancellor Gene Block to Washington, D.C., where they discussed issues pertaining to race, diversity and immigration with elected officials and advocacy group leaders.

Students, staff, faculty, alumni and volunteers from the community regularly meet with elected officials to remind them that their investments in UCLA are critical for funding vital research, student financial aid and the university’s core operations. Advocates champion and present the university’s role as an economic engine for California and the region, and of the tangible impact of UCLA’s service on a broad range of issues and policies.

For example, at our latest UCLA Downtown Day, our advocates highlighted our programs and research that are aimed at ending Los Angeles’ homelessness problem, a major focus for city and county lawmakers.

man in suit is speaking, women on either side are listening At a Zócalo/UCLA panel on the health effects of digital technology, UCLA psychologist Patricia Greenfield (left) and a Milken Institute fellow listen as Block makes a point about sleep disruption.

Showcasing faculty expertise is another important part of how we connect with our city. Through a partnership with Zócalo Public Square, UCLA has hosted community forums featuring UCLA professors as speakers and panelists. And Blueprint, a twice-yearly journal launched in 2015 by UCLA, has devoted its pages to in-depth discussions of crime, income inequality and sustainability.

Whether through working with our military veterans or joining the effort toward greater sustainability in Los Angeles, our students, staff and faculty can only benefit when their work takes them beyond our campus to apply their considerable knowledge, curiosity and expertise for the benefit of our society.

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Read other stories

Female African-American student Female African-American student
Admissions: Ensuring that UCLA reflects the communities we serve
Woman in lab coat Woman in lab coat
Reshaping Undergraduate Education: Developing new best practices for teaching
Corner of building showing glass and brick Corner of building showing glass and brick
Transforming Our Campus: Building a better UCLA for our second century
Female student-athlete in blue and black UCLA jersey Female student-athlete in blue and black UCLA jersey
Athletics: Celebrating our 113th NCAA title and continued academic success
Man in lab coat Man in lab coat
Research and Discovery: Creating new innovations that will shape our future
African American girls head African American girls head
Our UCLA Community: Strengthening our campus community, bridging differences
Graphic treatment of words “Let There Be . . .” Graphic treatment of words “Let There Be . . .”
Centennial Campaign and Alumni: Building broad-based support en route to 2019
Women wearing a blue cap and light blue t-shirt Women wearing a blue cap and light blue t-shirt
Our Global Footprint: Fostering understanding and developing new knowledge
Man on balcony Man on balcony
Financial Summary: Successfully and conservatively managing UCLA’s resources