CASA's Youth Engagement Initiative Highlights

The larger goal of the Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness, and Social Action’s Youth Engagement Initiative is to create a community of holistic learners and active citizens whose sense of compassion calls them to work towards an equitable and just society. In order to achieve this goal, we focus on providing a continuum of services, from pre-K through college and beyond. These services address academic, socio-emotional, and environmental needs of all learners, in addition to providing opportunities for leadership development. For more information on our approach, please read our Youth to College Vision (PDF).

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In the 2012-2013 academic year, CASA's Youth Engagement Initiative deepened its student leadership program, expanded holistic programs in the K-12 community, and increased on-campus collaborations at USD.

Student Leader Program

The Student Leader program grew this year through the creation of four additional student leader retreats, which focused on leadership development. We expanded the role of student leaders to include planning and running reflections and formal advising sessions. Youth Programming staff also increased professional development opportunities by offering a large number of on-and-off-campus workshops. We partnered with Student Employment, who helped provide financial assistance for the expanded programing.

New Counseling Program

Y2C photoA new counseling program, in partnership with USD's School of Counseling, was created at Montgomery Middle School; a Title 1 school located a few minutes from campus. With the strain of budget cuts, the school was left with one school counselor. This new program helped address the socio-emotional needs of the local school-community, while providing USD students with an incredible learning opportunity. We send four graduate work-study students in USD’s School of Counseling program to help create and enhance socio-emotional safety net systems, conduct peer mediation, and work with the counselor to create a wellness-focused environment in the counseling office.

Strengthened SOLES Partnership

CASA's Youth Engagement Initiative expanded its partnership with USD’s School of Education and Leadership Sciences (SOLES). We worked with the SOLES Center for Character Development to help train staff and students in how to incorporate character development materials into our programs. We also collaborated with the SOLES Learning and Teaching Department to connect USD students and partners involved in the Youth Engagement Initiative into academic courses offered through the education minor.

Deepened K-12 Partnerships

Y2C photoCASA's Youth Engagement Initiative, Bayside Community Center, and the Mission Valley YMCA run programming at the same elementary and middle schools in the Linda Vista community, just outside of USD’s campus. This year we deepened our partnership and pooled resources together to provide more field trips for K-12 students, more visits to USD’s campus to instill a college-going culture, and created more extended day programming for area youth. Bayside and the YMCA also hired USD alumni over the course of the year, allowing USD students to continue their good work after graduation.

Enhanced Parent Engagement

We enhanced our parent engagement component by working with Bayside Community Center to create monthly parent workshops for their Academic Club program. CASA's Youth Engagement Initiative's advisor, USD Professor Alexandrowicz, led the workshops on topics such as parent-teacher conferences. Youth Engagement Initiative staff also partnered with Bayside on a college readiness workshop for Spanish-speaking parents. We also partnered with USD’s Office of Admissions, whose staff presented at the workshop.

Youth to College Recognition

partner recognitionThis year, due to the number and quality of programs CASA's Youth Engagement Initiative runs or co-runs at Montgomery Middle School and the dedication of our students, we had the honor of being nominated for Partner of the Year by the school at San Diego Unified School District’s Partner and Volunteer Recognition Event. USD was the only higher education institution nominated by any of the schools in the district. We were honored to be in the presence of such amazing community members and community-based organizations who share the same vision and passion for our local schools.