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Our Model

CommUniverCity’s model originated with an idea that bringing the collective resources of major institutions together to bear on local, community development issues, the potential for sustainable, meaningful change would be great. Since our early years, we have sought to establish a solid foundation of trust between partners, a relationship that was built from the ground up, with every project developed by community residents, faculty, students and City staff working side by side.

Based on existing community-identified needs, our projects are categorized in three core pillars, “Engage,” “Learn” and “Build.”

Community Health

Engage projects seek to transform Central San José communities by expanding understanding of individual capacity and capability, a necessary effort to improve community health. In these programs, residents of all ages engage in mentorships with our SJSU service-learning students to build knowledge for the individual self and the individual’s role in connection to their larger community. These projects include skill building in areas like leadership, civic engagement, food security, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and legal consultation for expungement law.



Learn projects support a fluid exchange of ideas, knowledge and resources between our SJSU service-learning students and the neighboring residents. Faculty and campus leaders recognize the power of high impact pedagogies such as service-learning to instill in students an ethic of civic engagement in a democratic society. Downtown residents, who are traditionally underserved, take part in these programs that serve to increase literacy skills and instill a “college-going” culture. These projects include college campus touring, reading and writing skill learning, sustainability practices and STEM concepts.


Neighborhood Revitalization

Build projects funnel city resources to address the priorities of long neglected neighborhoods. These programs create a space for community participation and engage residents in the decision-making processes that direct public investment. Build projects seek to revitalize, physically and conceptually, downtown neighborhoods using efficient and sustainable practices. These projects include community planning assessments, neighborhood reactivation and community fairs aimed at building public knowledge of resources and placemaking efforts.