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COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP PROGRAMTwo community members sitting around a table discussing

This 8-session facilitator and skill development program is delivered in Spanish. Exercises were used to support the Neighborhood Leaders’ aim to collaborate, communicate, and generate project-specific challenges and opportunities.
Blog Post: February 15, 2016, Community Leadership Program is on a Mission!
Margaret Mead once wrote, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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Stay tuned: More information to come.

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This edition of Community Planning project is the GUADALUPE RIVER PARK USER SURVEY. URBP Master’s students will spend 2 months surveying the Guadalupe River Park users and will present findings to the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy.
Years ago, CommUniverCity took a somewhat unusual direction for a university-community partnership based on service-learning, shifting the center of gravity for evaluating impact from the academic to the community side. 

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As social capital building is the long-term goal underlying all of CommUniverCity’s projects, these surveys provide a valuable gauge to the ongoing impact for community residents. Survey projects serve as both a service-learning research opportunity for the student participants, as well as a valuable ongoing source of assessment data. Our annual door-to-door surveys include questions focused on specific neighborhood priorities such as street-lighting, access to health care and educational opportunities, neighborhood satisfaction, as well as awareness of CommUniverCity’s efforts in the neighborhood. Below are the full assessment reports, created by our SJSU Urban & Regional Planning service-learning students, that include the baseline collection and analysis of data within each neighborhood we have served.


Downtown to Diridon

First page of a document Report

The City of San Jose’s Diridon Station is currently served by several commuter and intercity rail lines and will be served by California’s High Speed Rail and regional BART commuter rail in the future. The SJSU graduate student teams analyzed existing conditions, engaged dozens of community members, and produced a report with high-quality recommendations, ranging from improved wayfinding on specific streets, improving bike parking, and creating a multimodal path linking Diridon Station to Downtown. This report, which earned a Student Project Award from the American Planning Association, was presented to multiple City of San Jose departments whose representatives noted that the city plans to implement a number of key recommendations identified by the students.

Delmas Park Neighborhood Assessment

Delmas Park is situated west of Downtown San Jose, across from Highway 87. It’s a walkable and transit-friendly neighborhood, conveniently located near SAP Center and Diridon Station. It is no surprise that Google chose this location for their forthcoming expansion — their access to key transit hubs is a major asset. The documentary video was created during Fall 2017 by graduate students from the Urban and Regional Planning Department, who were enrolled in the service-learning course called URBP 295: Community Assessment. The documentary video portrays existing neighborhood conditions and what makes Delmas Park unique. It also highlights personal stories from community leaders and key stakeholders about community assets and needs. The community assessment report will be ready by summer 2018, which will present analyses related to community planning goals. One of the objectives of the community assessment report is to synthesize the community’s priorities, which will help community leaders advocate for positive changes in Delmas Park.

Northside Neighborhood Assessment

The Northside Neighborhood sits just north of Downtown San José, allowing residents to enjoy the community’s walkability and “small town feel” while taking advantage of its close proximity to San José’s center. It is approximately one square mile and generally bounded by Hedding Street to the north, Julian Street to the south, Highway 101 and Coyote Creek to the east, and 6th Street to the west. The report presents the current conditions of the Northside Neighborhood and focuses on the ways that the neighborhood can benefit from San Jose’s continued efforts to revitalize the area.

South University Neighborhood Assessment

sun-community-assessment-cover Report

San José’s South University Neighborhood stands among the city’s most eclectic places. This community assessment was prepared by over 30 graduate students working as part of CommUniverCity. The report presents the current conditions in SUN and a snapshot of the different characteristics of the neighborhood. The results will help to lay the groundwork for more in-depth analyses of SUN, intended to help residents build on the neighborhood’s strengths and engage with city staff and officials in a more informed, collaborative way.

Greater Washington: Voces de la Comunidad

greater-Washington pic Report

This “Voice of the Community” report highlights the neighborhood priorities that were identified by neighborhood residents as a result of an ongoing partnership between the Greater Washington neighborhood, San José State University, Santa Clara University, CommUniverCity, and Catholic Charities.

Bicycle Safety Assessment

First page of a document Report

SJSU is located in the heart and downtown of San Jose. It’s important that alternate modes of transportation are made readily accessible to campus in a safe manner. This technical report describes the findings of current conditions of bicycle and pedestrian safety at SJSU, and the potential opportunities for the future of the campus.

East Santa Clara Street Assessment

First page of a document Report

Stretching along East Santa Clara Street from City Hall to the banks of Coyote Creek, the Urban Village study area features historic homes, mom-and-pop shops, and vivid local character. The area nonetheless suffers from underuse, with many commercial buildings falling into states of neglect and despair. In fall 2014 and spring 2015, San José State University Urban Planning students embarked on a detailed, asset-based assessment of the neighborhood to assist the city’s Planning Division with the first stage of the urban village master planning process.

Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities

Clean Creeks Final

The purpose of the Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities (CCHC) project is to improve water quality in Coyote Creek by preventing and removing trash that is the result of littering, illegal dumping, and homeless encampments along the creek. In partnership with the City of San José Environmental Services Department (ESD), San José State University’s Urban and Regional Planning Department has engaged the residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the Coyote Creek Corridor in a series of surveys. The first survey was conducted in 2011 and a mid-project report was completed in 2013. This report focuses on the results of a Spring 2015 final survey conducted by students in the Departments of Urban & Regional Planning, Environmental Studies, and Anthropology. We are pleased to show the final report!

Fresh Carts Silicon Valley

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SJSU Urban Planning graduate student team in Fall 2013 advanced the mission of The Health Trust of Silicon Valley, and the City of San Jose, to expand access to fresh produce in the city by encouraging mobile vending. In this report, students translated the complex Municipal Code into more user-friendly language for potential vendors and developed an interactive, web-based mapping tool to guide vendors to potential vending locations.

Hoffman-Via Monte Community Assessment

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The Hoffman-Via Monte (HVM) neighborhood is located six miles south of Downtown San Jose. This planning report synthesizes the neighborhood assessment and public engagement work conducted by an SJSU Urban and Regional Planning graduate student team in Fall 2013. The need for this assessment stemmed from quality of life concerns in HVM raised by Neighborhood Housing Services Silicon Valley (NHSSV) on behalf of the Responsible Landlord Engagement Initiative project. This initiative is composed of community members, property owners, residents, city officials, and community leaders dedicated to improving the quality of life in HVM and other San Jose communities.

Re-envisioning Downtown San José: An Integrative Approach to Renew St. James Square

UrbanDesignDowntownSanJose_Fall2013 Report

This urban design studio explored future possibilities for redevelopment and long-term management of public open space, urban corridors, urban markets and transportation centers in downtown San José. The community is currently focused on leveraging and renewing its existing public assets given the area’s planned residential growth. Using the frameworks of social equity, economic development and sustainability, the studio collaborated with San José community and city representatives, conducted precedent analysis, and performed in-depth fieldwork to support design recommendations for three core urban areas as well as the historic St. James Square. Upon completion of the project, community leaders selected various proposals for implementation. The students’ urban analyses and design intervention proposals which span several project phases can be found at: sjurbandesign.com.

Neighborhood Assessment: Spartan Keyes

SpartanKeysCover Report

Spartan Keyes is a central San José neighborhood situated less than one mile south of the SJSU Main Campus.  This report synthesizes the outcomes of a comprehensive community assessment of the community and chronicles a number of efforts undertaken to collaboratively engage residents in the planning process to advance community-determined priorities.  The work was completed by fifty graduate students in our Community Assessment and Collaborative Neighborhood Planning studio courses and exemplifies the “out of the classroom and into the neighborhoods” approach that forms the cornerstone of those courses.  The finished report highlights the work of our multi-talented students in the areas of quantitative analysis, survey design and execution, cartography, clear writing, and graphic design.

CommUniverCity 2.0: Neighborhood Assessment and Recommendations

CUC2.0 Report

This technical planning report is the product of a research project conducted by a graduate student team in San José State University’s (SJSU) Department of Urban and Regional Planning for CommUniverCity San José.  Students completed a community assessment to help inform CUC’s future planning activities in Central San José. The team assessed existing conditions within a 1.5-mile radius of SJSU by compiling the most current demographic, economic, health, education, poverty and crime data available. The data was analyzed and then synthesized into a series of recommendations, which are organized under ten of the most pertinent findings (called “headlines” in this report) that will have an impact on CommUniverCity future activities within the area.

Safe Routes to School: Anne Darling Elementary and San José High School

SafeRoutesCover Report

This report is a culmination of two semesters spent assessing conditions in the vicinity of two schools within San José’s Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace (FWBT) neighborhood: Anne Darling Elementary and San José High School. Graduate students in San José State University’s Masters of Urban Planning Program conducted the work in 2010 and 2011. Our primary objective in this report is to synthesize our assessment findings and make recommendations for the implementation of Safe Routes to School programs for these two schools. Such programs aim to identify and eliminate barriers to active commuting as one component of public health improvements.

Clean Creeks Healthy Community Project: Demographic Profile Comparison & Survey Results

First page of a document Report

The Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities (CCHC) project strives to improve water quality in Coyote Creek by preventing and removing trash that results from littering, illegal dumping, and homeless encampments along the creek. In order to reduce trash in the creek, it’s important to engage with local residents to establish community stewardship of the creek corridor. To achieve this goal, it’s essential to have a baseline understanding of who lives in the community and what are their awareness of and attitudes towards the creek.

Urban Agriculture Policy in San José

UrbanAgSanJoseCover Report

This report presents analysis of urban agriculture policies in the City of San José as well as some “best practices” from other U.S. cities.  A wide variety of practices are included under the umbrella of “urban agriculture,” including but not limited to: co-op grocery stores, farmer’s markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), community gardens, school gardens, entrepreneurial gardens, pocket gardens, backyard gardens,  rooftop gardens, fruit trees, food-producing green roofs, hobby beekeeping, food composting, and urban gardening classes. The report was prepared as part of an independent study class conducted in Fall 2011.

Dorsa-Tockna Community Assessment: City of San Jose Better Buildings Pilot Program

First page of a document Report

This report contains the key findings discovered during a thorough assessment of the Dorsa-Tockna neighborhood in east San José between September 2010 and June 2011. It is intended to serve as platform of facts related to existing conditions in the neighborhood, upon which the City of San José’s staff can implement and build its Better Buildings Program. This program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, promotes large-scale adoption of residential energy efficiency retrofits in a variety of communities across the country.

Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace BART Station Area Community Concept Plan

img style=”float:right;padding:10px;” class=” wp-image-3101 alignright” src=”https://cucsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/1c0fa-fwbt-bart-cover.jpg?w=300&h=232″ alt=”FWBT-BART-COVER” width=”340″> Report

The 2010 Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace BART Station Area Community Concept Plan (2010 CCP) documents conceptual plans, urban design guidelines, and associated implementation strategies for the area surrounding the planned Alum Rock Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station. The impetus for conducting the 2010 CCP came directly from the Five Wounds/ Brookwood Terrace (FWBT) community. Community members have expressed a strong desire to be deeply involved in formulating the characteristics of future public investments and private development for this strategic area.

Santee Neighborhood Community Assessment Analysis

First page of a document Report

The Santee/Yerba Buena neighborhood is centrally located within the City of San José and is approximately two miles east of the downtown area. This report is the culmination of the collective work of 15 graduate students of SJSU Urban and Regional Planning during the Fall 2010 semester, working in collaboration with Franklin-McKinley Children’s Initiative (FMCI) and the City of San José Strong Neighborhood’s Initiative (SNI). As part of this collaborative process, the students decided to call the planning committee “Studio 201.” The members of Studio 201 are grateful for the opportunity to have worked directly with FMCI, SNI, and the community members and leaders of the Santee neighborhood.

A Parking Utilization Survey of Transit-Oriented Development Residential Properties

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In the spring of 2010, a graduate class at SJSU in Urban and Regional Planning teamed up with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to study parking at transit-oriented development (TOD) residential projects in the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area. By observing the parking utilization rates at 12 housing developments near VTA light rail and Caltrain stations, this collaborative research effort produced valuable, local evidence that the parking supply at projects of this type exceeds actual demand. In addition to corroborating recent research which demonstrated that other TOD residential properties in the Bay Area are also “over-parked” (Cervero 2009), this report provides useful evidence to help inform decision makers that less parking can and ought to be required for housing projects that are located near rail transit service.

East Santa Clara Street Corridor: Assessment, Community Engagement, and Recommendations

ESC_1_Cover Report

This document represents the culmination of work conducted by San José State University Masters degree candidates in the Urban and Regional Planning Department in the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010 semesters. We endeavored to create a well-constructed and usable community assessment for a section of East Santa Clara Street in downtown San José, the tenth-largest city in the United States. This assessment of the corridor encapsulates existing conditions and includes ideas for future redevelopment and economic revitalization.

Alviso Community Assessment and Urban Design Analysis Report

First page of a document Report

The community of Alviso is located in northern San José at the southern-most point of San Francisco Bay where the vast, unbroken expanse of the bay’s waters transition to a complex maze of sloughs, salt evaporation ponds, tidal marshes, mudflats and rivers that are fed by drainage from the Santa Clara Valley. This report highlights the work of 24 Masters degree candidates of SJSU Urban and Regional Planning Department conducted an assessment of Alviso through statistical analyses, interviews with community members, photographs and extensive field research. Under the guidance of Richard M. Kos, AICP, student teams viewed Alviso from a wide range of angles – as statisticians, historians, social documentarians, information design specialists and ecologists.

San Jose Urban EcoPark


During the spring of 2007, graduate students enrolled in “Urban Planning 260: Environmental Planning Topics” at San José State University’s Department  of Urban & Regional Planning were tasked by the Environmental Services Department (ESD) at San Jose to develop a Master Plan for a proposed “Urban EcoPark” to be located at 1608 Las Plumas Avenue in San José. Development of the site was to occur in two phases. The plan received the California Chapter of the American Planning Association Award and the California Chapter of the American Planning Association Northern Section’s Award for Outstanding Planning Achievement for a Student Project in 2008.

Renewing the Action Agenda: Strong Neighborhoods Initiative

img style=”float:right;padding:10px;” class=”wp-image-8369 alignright” src=”https://cucsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/5dac5-screen-shot-2020-11-29-at-4.51.29-pm.png” alt=”First page of a document ” width=”340″ > Report

The Strong Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI), formally launched in 2000, is a partnership between the City of San José, San José the Redevelopment Agency (SJRA), and San José’s residents and business owners. SNI aims to strengthen the City’s neighborhoods by building clean, safe, and strong neighborhoods with independent, capable, and sustainable resident leadership. Nineteen SNI areas encompass about 10,000 acres that include older downtown and first-tier suburban neighborhoods. Each SNI area developed a Neighborhood Improvement Plan (NIP) through the collaborative efforts of city agencies, citizen groups, community-based organizations, and community members. This handbook prepared by a planning team of San José State University faculty and students during the 2006-2007 academic year is designed to serve as a template for each SNI area as it embarks on the process of renewing its Action Agenda and documenting it in a Neighborhood Improvement Plan Amendment (NIPA).

Five Wounds Brookwood Terrace Neighborhood Improvement Plan Amendment

FWBTNeighborhood_ImprovementPlanAmendment In 2002 the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace community developed a Neighborhood Improvement Plan (NIP) with principles, concepts, and strategies that guided improvement efforts and brought over $90 million in public funds to the community during the next four years. Encouraged by these remarkable accomplishments, the community worked diligently during the 2005-2006 academic year to update its action agenda with the assistance of the San José State University urban planning team and city staff. Goals and strategies were renewed and documented in the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace Neighborhood Improvement Plan Amendment (NIPA), a road map for the community, the city, and organizations that have a stake in promoting a healthy, vibrant neighborhood.

K.O.N.A. Community Services Network

First page of a document Report

Through the City of San José’s Strong Neighborhoods Initiative process, residents of the King Ocala Neighborhood Area (K.O.N.A.) identified greater partnership with schools, improved community services and enhanced community facilities as top priorities. SJSU’s Urban and Regional Planning Department conducted an assessment of the neighborhood’s community service strengths and needs, and conducted an open participatory discussion with community stakeholders during the 2004-2005 academic year. This report identifies a network of community services as the vehicle to overcome these connection barriers and provide residents with accessible, high-quality community services in a safe neighborhood environment.

Planning in San Jose: A Community Guide

In the 2004-2005 academic year, the City of San José Planning Department commissioned a team of urban planning faculty and graduate students from SJSU to develop an introduction to land use planning and development for people unfamiliar with the process in the City, as well as for those already acquainted with the practice who want to learn more. The guide is a resource for residents, business owners and property owners, as well as for developers interested in building in San José. English Spanish

San José’s Mayfair Community: Pedestrian/Bicyclist Safety and Neighborhood Convenience Study, Safe Routes for the Mayfair Community

First page of a document Report

In the fall 2004, SJSU Urban and Regional Planning graduate students partnered with the Transportation and Land Use Coalition (TALC) and the Mayfair community to conduct a study with the objective to provide the community with a reference and guide to: 1) improve pedestrian and bike safety on the way to and around enhanced bus or light rail stations along Alum Rock Avenue; and 2) provide convenience services around the stations. This report includes a detailed demographic profile with an emphasis on the segment of the population that relies most on public transit.

24th & William Street Commercial Center Improvement Plan

First page of a document Report

The William Street and 24th-McLaughlin commercial node is located within the Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace neighborhood in San José. During the 2002-2003 academic year, students and faculty from SJSU’s Urban and Regional Planning Department worked with community members and city staff to assess current conditions at the commercial node. In this report, the team drafted a vision statement to accurately reflect the community’s envisioned future for the commercial node and developed specific action steps to implement this vision.

33rd & McKee Commercial Node Improvement Plan

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During the 2002-2003 academic year, students and faculty from SJSU’s Urban and Regional Planning Department conducted a study of the environmental, physical and socio-cultural facts of the Anne Darling and Little Portugal North neighborhoods. The team solicited input from community members regarding their impression of and vision for their neighborhood and crafted recommendations based on land use surveys as well as concerns and ideas generated at community workshops. Community members and city staff provided feedback on these recommendations. The improvement plan presented in this report focuses on affordable and easily executable solutions that would provide the greatest benefit to the neighborhood.

Tully-Senter School – Community Hub: Facilities and Services Assessment

First page of a document In the 2002 Tully-Senter Neighborhood Improvement Plan, community members identified their ten top priority actions to improve their neighborhood. Leading the list was the establishment of a School Hub, a community facility that would provide space for multiple services. In the fall of 2003, the SJSU planning team contributed to the first stage in the implementation of the School-Community Hub. The purpose of the assessment was to determine whether a new community facility was indeed needed, before proceeding with the programming and conceptual design process. In this report, results of the assessment support the recommendation for a new community facility.

Seven Trees Neighborhood Plan

First page of a document Report

A team of Urban Planning faculty and graduate students from SJSU worked with city staff and the Seven Trees Neighborhood Group during the 2000-2001 academic year to apply the Collaborative Neighborhood Planning model to articulate a collective vision for the Seven Trees community. The university team recorded community feedback from public meetings and workshops and generated a plan to respond to public input. This report summarizes the planning process and has been used by city departments as a blueprint to direct public resources to further strengthen the Seven Trees community. More importantly, it has also been used by neighborhood residents to set direction in their community-building efforts.

Collaborative Plan: Bonita, Brookwood, Five Wounds, McKinley, and Olinder Neighborhoods

First page of a document Report

This report presents a neighborhood improvement plan for five neighborhoods one mile east of downtown San José: Bonita, Brookwood Terrace, Five Wounds, McKinley and Olinder. It summarizes the views and concerns of its residents, outlines the existing conditions in the community, and presents recommendations for specific areas of intervention within the neighborhoods. The work was conducted during the 1998-1999 academic year, under the umbrella of San José State’s Community Outreach Partnership Center (SJSU COPC), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), San José State University’s Office of the Provost and the Luke Hancock Foundation.

North Campus Area Plan

First page of a document Report

During the 1997-1998 academic year, faculty and students from the Urban and Regional Planning Department at SJSU worked in collaboration with members of the community and students from Horace Mann Academy to develop a plan for the urban neighborhood immediately north of the university campus. San José’s new half a million square feet Civic Center complex, along with a number of cultural and support services, have relocated in the heart of this community seven years after the completion of the plan. This report outlines the existing conditions in the community and presents recommendations for special intervention areas within the neighborhood. It encapsulates the views and concerns of its residents and business community and sets forth intervention strategies to work towards their vision.

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ENGINEERING IN ACTION A woman showing how a simple motor works

SJSU Engineering service leaners design, facilitate workshops to ignite a passion for science and technology among K-12 students in central San José.
● Blog Post: December 8, 2021, Reintroducing Science Day After the Height of a Pandemic
In the last edition of CommUniverCity’s time-honored Engineering in Action program brought together over 200 engineering students from the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and over 400 elementary students from after-school programs and youth centers in the Downtown San José area. 

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Boy with Goggles blue filter

The Engineering in Action series of workshops took place on Friday, November 13th, Thursday November 19th and Friday, November 20th. Forty-nine groups of the Materials Engineering 25 and 153 classes visited the CORAL,ThinkTogether, McKinley Youth Center and Third Street Community Center after school programs. The materials engineering students prepared projects from a variety of different topics such as ceramics, diffusion, mechanical properties, magnetic properties, and a host of other subjects. Children from kindergarten to fifth grade had the opportunity to get their hands on fun-filled projects.

The workshops ran from one and a half hour to two hours, where  students created a 20 minute, hands-on experiment on related materials engineering topics in their course. K-5th grade students rotated from project to project around the tables in school cafeterias and halls at youth centers. The experiments engaged the students both in theory and in engineering. The projects emphasized how engineers build on science to make a product or process and how engineers optimize a product or process by iterating through a design process. Some of the children were able to take some of their experiments home to show their parents.

Spartan and student

The young children walked anxiously to see all the fun projects that awaited them in the cafeterias and classrooms. The engineering students were surprised to see how interested and engaged the elementary children were during the demonstrations. One student expressed how he was surprised to hear some really educated guesses coming from the children.

Special thanks to Dr. Guna Selvaduray, Dr. Raj Venkatesh, Dr. Michael Oye and Dr. Christina Peters for integrating this service learning project. This project would not have been made possible without their help and wonderful students.

Two students amazed by an electrical experiment

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Geology Rocks! brings fun and creative activities to 3rd through 5th graders at local elementary schools near San Jose State. CommUniverCity and geology professor LeAnne Teruya work together to bring this project to an after school program called Think Together at Horace Mann Elementary School and Lowell Elementary School.
● Blog Post: January 29, 2020: Showing San Jose Students How Geology Rocks!

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The Rock Cycle – Spring 2022

The Rock Cycle Rocks! – Spring 2022

We Are Mountain Movers – Spring 2022

Under Pressure – Spring 2022

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GROWING SUSTAINABLYA group o parents and students receiving a class on gardening

This edition brings three projects of education to children in grades Kindergarten to 8th.
Cooking Matters:  In this four-week series children learn about healthy eating habits and how to make fun and healthy snacks, while learning the importance of a healthy diet. 
Environmental Science Education: These workshops for children help them learn about the local environment and complement their science, math, and literacy skills.
Garden Education: In this 6-week series, children learn about the plants and how the meal connects to Latin American culture and languages.

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Virtual Field Trip to Kelly Park – Spring 2022


Virtual Cooking Matters lesson at Olinder
Fall 2021 Virtual Cooking Matters lesson at Olinder

The Fall 2021 Cooking Matters project was a collaboration between CommUniverCity, several elementary schools, CORAL, and the San Jose State Public Health PH104 class taught by Dr. Gomez and Professor McClure Fuller.

There were a total of ten workshops that were taught at McKinley Elementary School, Olinder Elementary School, and the Spartan Keyes Action Center. Four workshops were taught at Olinder and the Spartan Keyes action center, and the remaining two workshops were at McKinley Elementary. The workshops were from October 21st through November 15th. There were five student groups, with a total of 35 students, that taught the workshops. Each student group taught two workshops. A total of 55 unduplicated and 154 duplicated elementary school students participated in the workshops.

Nutrition-based workshops that highlight the importance of eating a variety of healthy foods will equip students with the knowledge that will promote lifelong health. In the Cooking Matters workshops this semester, the students learned about food groups, how to read food labels, vitamins, and healthy food options. These concepts will ensure that students are aware of healthier food options, and how to consume a balanced diet.


Virtual Cooking Matters lesson at Olinder
Fall 2021 Virtual Cooking Matters lesson at Olinder

The creation of this program is aimed at improving environmental literacy of elementary students in CUC service area schools. It expands on the Watershed in a Box material to include more environmental topics beyond water and pollution issues in Coyote Creek, yet still focuses on the environmental issues and concepts related to San Jose neighborhoods. Environmental literacy is of growing importance, especially in our downtown San Jose community where many families face daily environmental harms. These children have the potential with a little guidance to have a very impactful voice in leading to a greener future in San Jose and this project aims at guiding the voices and knowledge to give them the power to improve the environmental challenges our families are facing.

The goal of Environmental Education is to connect children to the basics of the environment by discussing local environments and environmental issues. This project gives students an introduction to environmental terms and literacy while also motivating them to see the environments in their neighborhoods.


CommUniverCity Garden Education interns assembling gardening kits
CommUniverCity Garden Education interns assembling gardening kits (Spring 2022)

Last summer, we had garden education workshops with participants from the Spartan Keyes Neighborhood Action Center and from the organization Project Hope.

We had a total of 69 participants, and held six in-person workshops. Some of the workshops were at Kelley park, and a few of them were at the Mckinley elementary school garden. All of the participants had the opportunity to harvest some vegetables, and were provided with gardening kits to start their own gardens.

We decided to embrace one of the tenants of environmental education by making our kits and workshops culturally relevant and themed around the traditional Latin American dish: Pico de gallo. The kits consisted of a large pot, a tomato plant, a hot pepper plant, an onion plant and a cilantro plant.

In the first workshop participants learned about each plant, and built their kits. In the second workshop we taught participants all about the origins of pico de gallo and where each plant comes from and how the meal connects to Latin American culture and languages. And in the final lesson, participants learned about the benefit of having native flowers around their garden and were also able to talk about how their kits did, and we were able to make pico de gallo from the food harvested from some of their kits!

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This edition of the Marketing Smarts brings two projects:
Hunger at Home: SJSU students develop materials for 4 branches of the nonprofit organization.
Advertising Campaigns: SJSU students develop ad campaigns for local businesses and nonprofits

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Stay tuned: More information to come.

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RECORD CLEARANCEA consultant in tie speaking to a woman

SJSU Justice Studies students clear criminal convictions from records.
Many people are affected by their criminal history. More than 65 million adult Americans have a criminal record;1 in 4 adult Californians has an arrest or conviction record on file with the State (National Employment Law Project, 2012). With the help of volunteer attorneys and legal professionals, Justice Studies students have helped over 150 San José residents, including the homeless, clear their legal records.

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A consultant in tie speaking to a woman

The criminal justice system adversely and disproportionately affects Latinos and African-Americans in relation to their representation in the population The law limits how employers use criminal histories in employment decisions to protect civil rights

(Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2012).

Clearing a Record Matters For…

  • Jobs
  • Housing
  • Family Unification
  • Public Assistance
  • Dignity
  • Fairness

Many people are unaware of the expungement remedies for which they are eligible.

A recent RCP poll showed only 13% of the 182 inmates surveyed knew that the law requires courts to dismiss most jail convictions upon successful completion of probation. Since 2010, the RCP has presented information regarding expungement law and procedure at 83 community education presentations with over 4050 people attending Since January 2012, the RCP has individually interviewed 348 people at Speed Screening sessions to advise them regarding their eligibility for expungement and appropriate next steps.

Record Clearance Project: Life-Changing for Students and Clients

Participants’ reflections on their RCP experience convey the power of the project to open new worlds of possibility.

When the judge said that she was granting the expungement [for my client], I could not help but cry a little. . . . I did not pursue this kind of internship for the thanks or gratitude, but to help someone change his life for the better. Mr. C was so happy that he had tears of joy, and his fiancée was so very proud of him . . . The feeling I had in my heart was something that I do not have words for . . . Knowing that I was able to help someone change the course of his life, better support his family, and give him a new sense of self is a chance of a lifetime. When the judge said that she was granting the expungement [for my client], I could not help but cry a little. . . . I did not pursue this kind of internship for the thanks or gratitude, but to help someone change his life for the better. Mr. C was so happy that he had tears of joy, and his fiancée was so very proud of him . . . The feeling I had in my heart was something that I do not have words for . . . Knowing that I was able to help someone change the course of his life, better support his family, and give him a new sense of self is a chance of a lifetime.

– Tanya DeBorba, RCP student


The RCP team accepted me as a client in July and began working on the petitions to expunge my record. Within a matter of weeks, I received an email with the written petitions.  I went to court twice in September. At both court dates, the judges cleared my record without hesitation. They were impressed with the well-written petitions. The judges also mentioned they were happy to see that I turned my life around. 

A month later, I was offered a job. They said I passed the background check. These are words I haven’t heard in a very long time.

-VN, a client served by RCP

Infographic of Record Clearance Project

Donate to the Record Clearance Project today by clicking on the image or going to: www.sjsu.edu/advancement/links/giving

Commendation from Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

“Today the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors commended the San Jose State University Record Clearance Project, which provides support to the Probation Adult Services Division, the Public Defender Office, and the Office of the District Attorney, by assisting community members to clear eligible criminal convictions from their records.

Last month, the Project received the Dean’s Award from the University’s Dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, in recognition of its significant accomplishments in community service and education.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this vital partnership,” said Supervisor George Shirakawa, President County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “Because of your service to the community, ex-offenders have a chance at employment again, so they provide for their families and be productive. We appreciate your dedication and hard work.”” (Mitchell and Hinestrosa, 2012)

The Record Clearance Project was featured in The Metro: 

“Norma Burns knows hard times. Her adopted parents abused her as a child, and from the time she was 4 years old until she became an adult, she says, she was raped multiple times.

“No one protected me,” Burns says.

Following the worst of these incidents, Burns came home to California and joined the army. The service offered some stability, yet not long after she joined the army, she started drinking and smoking crack.

“I was living with this gentleman, and I was basically in an abusive relationship,” Burns recalls. “It just so happened in that particular night, him and I got into an argument, an altercation, and in my struggle in trying to get away, I scratched him right above his eyebrow, like as long as your fingernail.”

Police took pictures for evidence. She had no visible injuries, but her bodybuilder ex-boyfriend did. Burns, 53, was placed in jail for eight months and forced to take a year of domestic-violence classes.  A couple years went by after the fraud and assault charges, and Burns started to take steps to put her life back together, visiting the Center for Employment Training (CET) in 2006.

“While I was going there I had a police record, and I had asked them, ‘For the field of work that I’m getting into, can I actually get into that field with a record?’ They said, ‘Well, down the line, we’re going to have students come in from San Jose State. We’re going start a program here, to implement a program, to get your record expunged.’

“That was the turning point in my life,” Burns says. “I knew that I needed to slow down and get my life together”” (Ramalho, 2012).

Spartan Daily, SJSU’s newspaper, also covered the Record Clearance Project:  

“Lozano said she will be attending SJSU in the fall to further study sociology and the Record Clearance Project  “made it possible” for her to achieve her goals./p>

Several Record Clearance Project students and volunteers said being able to change the lives of clients is one of the program’s most rewarding aspects./p>

Hayman said the first time she exited the courtroom with her newly cleared client, they both cried./p>

She said it was an overwhelming feeling “knowing I helped her do that.”/p>

Stevenson said the Record Clearance Project gives people hope and second chances” (Hochmuth, 2013).


Hochmuth, Amanda. (2013, May 8). Record Clearance Projects Turns Convictions into Second Chances. Spartan Daily. Retrieved from  http://spartandaily.com/105278/record-clearance-project-turns-convictions-into-second-chances

Mitchell, Gwendolyn and Hinestrosa, Marina. (2012, June 19). County Applauds Partnership with San Jose State University Record Clearance Project. Santa Clara County Office of Public Affairs. Retrieved from http://www.sccgov.org/sites/opa/nr/Pages/County-Applauds-Partnership-with-San-Jose-State-University-Record-Clearance-Project.aspx

Ramalho, Lena (2012, November 21). Record Clearance Project at San José State. The Metro. Retrieved from http://www.sanjose.com/news/2012/11/21/record_clearance_project_at_san_jose_state


Department of Justice Studies (2012, April). Advance, News from the San José State University Record Clearance Project. Spring 2011. Retrieved from http://justicestudies.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Advance-Spring-20111.pdf

Department of Justice Studies (2012, April). Advance, News from the San José State University Record Clearance Project. Winter 2011. Retrieved from http://justicestudies.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Advance-Winter-2011_Web.pdf

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WRITING PARTNERSA mentor and her mentee smiling

Middle school children and SJSU service learners enrolled in an online Sociology class exchange a total of 6 letters throughout the semester.
● Blog Post: May 22, 2014, After a Semester of Being Pen Pals, Writing Partners Finally Meet

Since the beginning of their school year, Anne Darling students have been writing to pen pals from San Jose State University.

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Stay tuned: More information to come.

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YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS ACADEMYA group of elementary schoolers showing their art

Young Entrepreneurs Academy is one of the newer additions to the CommUniverCity projects. The primary focus for YEA is to engage the youth into learning and developing entrepreneurial skills that are normally practiced in the real world of business. A few of these topics include marketing, management, operations, and budgeting.
Blog Post: March 10, 2021, Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs

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eLearning during the Pandemic: Lessons from Uncertainty, Spring 2022

Managing a Team and the Impact in the Classroom, Spring 2022

Jake, an interactive Minecraft movie, Spring 2022

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COLLEGE DAYBanner How do we foster a College going culture in San jose, with parents a their kid

College Day inspires thousands of under-resourced and often first generation college-going students in Santa Clara County to develop their personal visions and plans for college success.  This event communicates a unified message that college is attainable. As a community, Silicon Valley cannot afford to have only 41% of its ​students college-ready. College Day provides the tools and resources to teachers and other caring adults to create a community where every child will have a college dream.

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On October 21st 2016, many of the schools in Santa Clara County will participate in College Day, a day meant inspire a college-going culture, so that all elementary, middle, and high school students can see themselves going to college. We are actively recruiting speakers to travel to these local schools and talk about their experiences going to college. Your conversation with these students could spark many more future college-going conversations between students and their families, teachers, and friends. If you are interested in being a speaker, please fill out this interest form.

To learn about first generation ​college students’ experiences at San Jose State, see the GENTERATE’s video below. GENERATE is a cooperative initiative designed to promote leadership, visibility, support, coordinated resource exchange, and college success for those who identify as First-Generation College Students at SJSU.

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THE CLUB – CLASSES OF CYBERSECURITY AT ROCKETSHIPPoster about Cyber Security in Spanish, Vietnamese and English

Communivercity hosted a program of cybersecurity for children. Information in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 



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Welcome to CommUniverCity Club! Each virtual lesson will be from 3:00pm-4:00pm. CLICK HERE to sign up your student! Full schedule and details below.

More details below Mas detalles abajo Thêm chi tiết bên dưới

Tuesday, May 18: >Cybersecurity
Learn good internet habits! SJSU students will guide Rocketeers through a lesson on how to protect themselves online by sharing important vocabulary words and Join us! Sign up here.

Martes 18 de mayo: Ciberseguridad
¡Aprenda buenos hábitos en Internet! Los estudiantes de SJSU guiarán a los Rocketeers a través de una lección sobre cómo protegerse en línea compartiendo palabras importantes de vocabulario y ¡Únase a nosotros! Registrate aquí.

Thứ Ba, Ngày 18 tháng 5:  An ninh mạng
Học các thói quen tốt khi dùng internet! Sinh viên SJSU sẽ hướng dẫn các Rocketeers làm thế nào để bảo vệ bản thân trên online bằng cách chia sẻ những vốn từ quan trọng và Tham gia với chúng tôi! Ghi danh ở đây.  

Poster about Cyber Security in Spanish, Vietnamese and English


Monday 4/26, Tuesday 4/27, Thursday, April 29: Engineering in Action
Learn the science about objects you use every day! Meet future superheroes who will share their journey to their current college path and explain what their superpower will be when they graduate.

Sign up here.

Wednesday, April 28: Young Entrepreneurs Academy
Learn about successful business ideas and teams. What is your BIG idea? SJSU students will inspire you on a journey of generating an innovative idea and building your own successful company with that idea.

Sign up here.

Friday, April 30: Environmental Education
Learn about the environment during Earth month! SJSU students will guide Rocketeers through a lesson on the nature around us in San Jose.  Want to know how to make our neighborhoods greener? Or learn about a cool thing in your neighborhood park? Join us!

Sign up here.

Poster about Cyber Security in Spanish, Vietnamese and English


Lunes 26 de abril, martes 27 de abril, jueves 29 de abril: Ingeniería en acción
¡Aprenda la ciencia sobre los objetos que usa todos los días! Conozca a los futuros superhéroes que compartirán su viaje hacia su camino universitario actual y les explicarán cuál será su superpoder cuando se gradúen.


Miércoles 28 de abril: Academia de jóvenes emprendedores
Academia de jóvenes emprendedores: Obtenga información sobre equipos e ideas comerciales exitosas. ¿Cuál es tu GRAN idea? Los estudiantes de SJSU lo inspirarán en un viaje para generar una idea innovadora y construir su propia empresa exitosa con esa idea. HAGA CLIC AQUI

Viernes 30 de a bril: educación sobre el medio ambiente
¡Aprenda sobre el medio ambiente durante el mes de la Tierra! Los estudiantes de SJSU guiarán a los Rocketeers a través de una lección sobre la naturaleza que nos rodea en San José. ¿Quieres saber cómo hacer que nuestros vecindarios sean más ecológicos? ¿O aprender algo interesante en el parque de su vecindario? ¡Únete a nosotros! HAGA CLIC AQUI

Poster about Cyber Security in Spanish, Vietnamese and English

Thứ Hai ngày 26/4, Thứ Ba ngày 27/4, Thứ Năm ngày 29/4: Kỹ sư Thực hành
Học Khoa học từ các vật thể bạn sử dụng hằng ngày! Gặp gỡ các siêu anh hùng tương lai chia sẻ về hành trình đến đại học của họ và giải thích về siêu lực của họ khi tốt nghiệp.
Ghi danh tại đây.

Thứ Tư ngày 28/4: Học viện các Nhà doanh nghiệp Trẻ tuổi
Học các ý tưởng kinh doanh thành công và đội ngũ. Ý tưởng TO LỚN của bạn là gì? Sinh viên SJSU sẽ truyền cảm hứng cho hành trình tạo ra những ý tưởng đổi mới và xây dựng doanh nghiệp thành công của riêng bạn. Ghi danh tại đây.

Thứ Sáu ngày 30/4: Giáo dục Môi trường
Tìm hiểu về môi trường trong tháng Trái đất! Sinh viên SJSU sẽ hướng dẫn các Rocketeers qua một bài học về thiên nhiên xung quanh chúng ta tại San Jose. Bạn muốn biết cách làm cho khu dân cư của chúng ta trở nên xanh hơn? Hoặc tìm hiểu về một điều thú vị trong công viên khu phố của bạn? Tham gia với chúng tôi! Ghi danh tại đây.

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CommUniverCity San Jose hosted a fair with SJSU faculty, students, and community members to engage senior citizens in wellness education, screenings and physical activity demonstrations. Activities included blood pressure screenings and education, balance and gait assessments and education, mood assessment and education, hearing loss and communication strategies, nutrition education, and Medicare preventative services.
● Blog Post: June 14, 2018, Standout Social Work Student: Kevin Nad 


In this event, SJSU Faculty and Students provide environmental education activities for the community. A happy, safe, physically distant, but socially connected Earth Day from all of us at CommUniverCity!
SJSU In keeping with the spirit of sustainability, CommUniverCity is assembling garden education kits for 4th through 6th graders for distribution to families in Central San José in 2020, growing carrots, cauliflower, kale, and beans.
● Blog Post April 23, 2020, Celebrating Earth Day at CommUnivercity 


This initiative converts former railroad tracks to multi-purpose spaces
● Blog Post: April 25, 2016, Volunteers for Five Wounds Trail Never Fail!
● Blog Post: May 22, 2014, Friends of Five Wounds Trail Spring Clean Up: A Success!
● Blog Post: Nov. 21, 2013, Terry Christensen Thanks Supporters: Five Wounds Urban Village Plans Approved



SJSU Kinesiology students teach sports skills and sportsmanship to elementary school children.
The Department of Kinesiology is an active member of the American Kinesiology Association. The department began as the first public system of physical activity in higher education in the West and one of the earliest in the entire US. As affiliated programs, they have the center for International Sport and Kinesiology, the FASTFIT fitness Program, and the Spartan Youth Summer Camp.


Mentor youth in Tracing ABC’s, Homework Centers, Primary Years Project.
In Horace Mann Elementary, the International Baccalaureate Program
develops the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills students need to live, learn, and work in a global society.



Lowell elementary school students experience a theater performance on personal experiences with discrimination by SJSU students.
Blog Post: February 18, 2018, Raising Awareness Through Performance;
Blog Post: December 14, 2018, Walking a Mile in Another Person´s Shoes: Social Issues Theater Addresses Challenges of Inequity and Discrimination 
In the Fall 2018 edition of this project, 24 SJSU students performed excerpts from the book Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives by Peter Horner.


Raising awareness of community asset accessible to families in the neighborhood.
● Blog Post: April 26, 2017, Hunting for Memories – First Annual Spring Event a Hit!
Blog Post: March 29, 2018,2nd Annual Spartan Keys Egg Hunt!  
In 1975, the town of Homer, Georgia, won the Guinness Book of World Records for hiding 80,000 eggs for a town of 900 people to hunt. Since then, that record has been broken many times over. Our annual Spartan Keyes Egg Hunt & Pet Parade has a long way to go to beat that record, but it is always a fun attempt. 


For the last years, a team of residents, CommUniverCity staff, and San José State University students and faculty have worked diligently to organize and put on the S.U.N. Festival.
● Blog Post: April 12, 2018, Community Activates O´Donnell Garden Park
Related research identifies a clear association between park use and residents’ sense of security and between park use and reductions in anti-social behavior. Located at the corner of 6th and William Street, the diminutive half-acre park is the only public open space within the neighborhood. 


San José State University students mentor K-3 students on reading, focusing on improving literacy through our Accelerating Third Grade Literacy in the Five Wounds/ Brookwood Terrace (FWBT) Neighborhood project.
Blog Post: February 25, 2014, Eager to Read: Meet Jocelyn and Leslie of Accelerating 3rd Grade Literacy
SJSU students work with 100 students from the CORAL after school programs at Anne Darling, McKinley and Olinder Elementary Schools.

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In February 2014, CommUniverCity joined our friends in the Franklin McKinley Children’s Initiative, Somos Mayfair and Grail Family Services at the 2014 Santa Clara County Children’s Summit to receive the Bold Steps for Children Award. The award honors community efforts that recognize the strengths that families and neighborhoods bring to enhance children’s success in learning and life. The video below let’s you hear first hand from the Principal of McKinley Elementary, the President of the McKinley/Bonita Neighborhood Association, and the students themselves about the impact of the Accelerating 3rd Grade Literacy program.

2014 Kids in Common from Santa Clara County Office of Ed on Vimeo.

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CommUniverCity supports Second Harvest of Silicon Valley helping distribute food in our neighborhoods to families in need.



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Duties: Sort, distribute monthly food packages to families in need. # of Volunteers Needed: 20 for each date. Location: Spartan Keyes Center, 570 Keyes St, San Jose, 95112 Dates: (All run from 1:15pm-4:45pm. Most help needed during first 2 hours. Shifts available.) 4th Tuesday of every month, all year long January 22, February 26, March 26, April 23, May 28, June 25, July 28, August 27, September 24, October 22, November 26, & December 17. Contact: elizabeth@cucsj.org, 408-490-0708 Requirements: None, sign in with Rita Torres upon arrival. Wear close close-toed shoes, comfortable clothing

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CommUniverCity supports Spartans Keys Neighborhood Dumpster Day regularly with volunteers or publicity to provide with free disposal drop-off services.



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Duties: Register and gather at starting time, suit up with vests/glove, greet neighbors, assist with unloading and making space in bins.
Location: Martha Street,  7:30am until bins are full
Requirements: Wear closed toe shoes, comfortable clothing
Contact: elizabeth@cucsj.org, 408-490-0708


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CommUniverCity’s supports of Viva Calle SJ, one of Northern California’s largest open streets event, has added another bridge into the mosaic of community engagement and capacity building, all of which are qualities of healthy, vibrant neighborhoods.
Blog Post: October 15, 2018, Viva Calle and the Building of Community 



CommUniverCity supports Burnett Middle School with volunteers to organize events like this Haunted House.



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Duties: Help build and break down sets # of Volunteers Needed: 20+ Location: Burnett Middle School 850 North 2nd St. San Jose, CA 95122 Dates: Late evening Thursday, October 25 and Late evening Friday, October 26 Contact: ccastro@sjusd.org Requirements: Not necessary, but experience with building painting, etc.< Update: Burnett Middle School have now a new name: Ohlone Middle School, in honor of the Ohlone People, whose homeland included today’s San Francisco Bay Area. 


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This section showcases samples of activities that are available for the CommUniverCity projects. The content belongs to an actual SJSU class (SPAN3, Spanish for Professionals), but it can be adapted to any subject. If you are a CommUniverCity instructor or community leader and consider that any of those activities can be adapted to your project, please email francisco.delacalle@sjsu.edu
These activities include:
| Dictations | Speak the words | Quizzes | Hot spots | Interactive videos | 360 tours |

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Sample of Activities for SPAN3, Spanish for Professionals

Section 1 – Dictation
Combination of Vowels

This activity of listening comprehension is to practice the combinations of vowel sounds /a/,/e/,/i/,/o/, and /u/.

The slashes represent the sound of the letter or word. Spanish language has five vowel sounds and all possible combinations of them, so 25 possibilities: /aa/, /ae/, /ai/, /ao, /au/, /ea/, /ee/, etc.

Below you can see one example of each combination.

Section 2 – Speak the Word set
Pronunciation of Spanish words that have the same spelling in English

This activity is to perfect your pronunciation.
Spanish has a very simple set of pronunciation rules. Basically, every letter corresponds to an individual sound with the exception of the five digraphs CH, QU, RR, GU, LL (which are pairs of letters with a single sound), and the H (which is always silent).
An interesting set of words are those that have the same spelling in both Spanish and English, but different pronunciation. For example, the word “iris” is pronounced /iris/ in Spanish and /airis/ in English.

In some cases, the spelling coincides but the accent doesn’t. In the examples below, the accent is underlined for clarity.
Examples of words

Asia /asia/ chocolate /CHokolate/
halo /alo/ primate /primate/
álgebra /alHebra/ ángel /anHel/
neón /neon/ bacteria /bakteria/
pus /pus/ flexible /flexible/
probable /probable/ horrible /oRible/
considerable /konsiderable/ doctor /doktor/
motor /motor/ tutor /tutor/
dental /dental/ mental /mental/
funeral /funeral/ final /final/
superior /superior/ interior /interior/

In this exercise, you are presented with 10 words in pairs that you have to pronounce in Spanish.

Section 3 – True or false.
General Concepts of Spanish language and its pronunciation

In this exercise you will be asked true-false question about the pronunciation in Spanish and general concepts about the language.

Section 4 -Multiple Choice
Masculine-feminine, singular-plural

Section 5 -Fill in the blanks
Cantar-cantando-cantado (sing, singing, sung)

Section 6 – Drag the words into their correct boxes
Irregular past participles in Spanish like “escrito,” (written)

In Spanish there are only 13 verbs that have irregular past participle. These are:

The main use of the past participle is to create the past tense “I have done” In Spanish you need to know the verb “haber” (to have): yo he, tú has, él ha, nosotros hemos, vosotros habeis, ellos han.

Section 7 – Hot spots
Vocabulary: organs and structures in the body

Section 8 -Interactive Video
Conjugated verbs

This 2-minute video displays some sentences, just before they are used -pronounced, and asks questions about their grammar.
This video pauses every time there something important.

Section 9 – Interactive video 2/b>
Vocabulary: fluids of the body

Section 10 -360 Tour
Vocabulary: objects in the doctor’s office

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This section showcases different types of visuals that can be captured with a camera to be used in the classroom.
These visuals include:
| Rotational videos | Skyline 360 images and videos | Spherical 360 images | Fisheye photographs and videos | Aerial photographs and videos | Effects | 3D, VR, and AR |

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Photographic Visuals for Service Learning

The following is a brief classification and description of effective photographic resources to attract the attention of young students with visuals.

1. 360-Spin Videos

The 360-spin videos are used to show the shape of objects. The object shown is simply placed on an electric turntable with a neutral background. Common turntables can be up to around 13 inches of diameter. Turntables (Motorized photography rotating display stands) allow different angles of rotation (for example, 0 to 180 degrees) and different angular speeds. The duration of a 4-inch object as the ones in the videos of this article can be of some 10 seconds. They can be remote controlled and are inexpensive.
(Media: Desert rose; Crystal quartz geode).

2. Skyline 360 Images and Videos

Panoramic images are a collage of photos that covers 360 degrees around the viewer. Unlike spherical 360 images, skyline 360 images are flat and don’t show details of the ground or the sky (or the floor and the ceiling).
Skyline videos can be obtained either as an animation out of a panoramic image or, directly, by placing the camera itself on an electric turntable mounted on the tripod. Panoramic videos are the opposite of 360-spin videos: you place a camera on the turntable.
(Media: Downtown San José Skyline, courtesy of XAtsukex).

Panoramic view of San Jose

3. Spherical 360 Images

These images cover the 360 solid angle, so all views (including the ground and the sky)are shown as a sphere around the viewer.
These images are a collage of photographs and consequently may derive in large files.
Google provides an app, called Street View, to take spherical images with your own cell phone.
(Media: San José State University Tower, San José)

4. Fisheye Photographs and Videos

Art and Design bulding main door Art and Design bulding main door with fisheye lens

This technique uses a special lens, called fisheye, which deforms the view around a focus to capture a wider angle to photograph large object (like a building) when the camera can’t be placed far enough from the object. Notice, in the photo on the right, the building would not be seen with a regular lens.
Fisheye skyline 360 videos are created by placing the fisheye camera on a turntable.
(Media: San José State University Art & Design building with regular and fisheye lenses; Panoramic video with fisheye lens of the SJSU Tower, San José, California)

5. Aerial Photographs and Videos

family seen by above with a drone

Cameras mounted on drones or planes take magnificent photographs and videos.
Regarding drones, these days they have become an affordable tool, with prices as low as $100 for a basic drone of 1080p, also known as Full HD or FHD (full high definition), a ubiquitous display resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Resolution represents the number of pixels a display has in width by height format, and the more pixels, the sharper the image looks.
The main problem with the drone may be flying it. Achieving a stable position for a photo or video may take many shots, especially if it’s windy!
The Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, requires that the pilots have a license if flying a drone for commercial, government or other non-recreational purposes; or have a registration if flying for recreational purposes. In Addition drones are prohibited in places like airports, government buildings, and state and national parks; and they may require a permit in the area you want to photograph.
Regarding high altitude photographs or videos, you can find your desired element in stock photo agencies or for free at Wikimedia Commons -giving appropriate credit to the author.
(Media: People photographed from a drone , courtesy of Brad Thomas Hanks; Aerial video of Mineta International Airport area, in San José, courtesy of Fastily)

6. Effects

These days there are many photo and video effects to meet your visual objectives. Some effects are achieved when shooting by changing some mode in your camera or by adding an accessory, like a flash, a zoom, or a special lens. In other cases, the effect we look for is achieved in post-production, altering the properties of the photograph or video with a certain app (like Adobe Photoshop or Camtasia).
Slow motion is a great effect that renders exceptional videos to show what it happens too fast for the naked eye. Common cameras include the “slo-mo mode.”
Juxtaposition, also called before-after effect is another great effect. This allows seeing at the same time two states of the same picture. it can be a house before and after a retrofit or a picture before and after being altered. For this effect, the image can be retouched via coding or directly using an app, like H5P.
Accessories for cell phones are very inexpensive and they enable interesting effects and filming possibilities for pedagogical purposes. The following is a short list of commercial accessories in the current market and a low price.

– 180-degree fisheye lens for cell phone, $12
– Waterproof cell phone pouch, $11
– Monocular telescope for cell phone, $31
– Selfie stick, $19
– Endoscope for cell phone, $15

(Media: Acetylene explosion in slow motion; Juxtaposition of a photograph of a balcony and its pencil drawing)

7. Tree-Dimensional and Virtual Reality

To complete this brief review of types of visuals, we should mention three-dimensional imagery and virtual and mixed reality. To utilize these technologies, users need a device in addition to the image and their naked eyes.

Cactai in the desert in 3D red and blue 3D glasses

3D Images and Videos. So far, we have described 2D images, so, flat (even the spherical 360 images are but a flat display of a collage of photos). Three-dimensional or stereoscopy refers to the illusion of depth in an image. A three-dimensional image or an anaglyph is a set of two photographs or illustrations, with a difference in color and angle. To see a 3D image, it’s necessary a 3D color glasses -with one different color for each eye (red and blue).
A 3D video is just a sequence of 3D images and, consequently, it requires the same glasses.
(Media: 3D commercial glasses, from Blue Handcart at Amazon.com; 3D image Dust in the desert, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Interior)

Dinosaur under two lenses Google Cardboard

Virtual Reality. VR adds one final attribute: interaction. Unlike in 360 spherical images, in VR, thanks to a gyroscope mounted in the device, the devise senses the direction to where the viewer is aiming at, it processes that information and responds accordingly by showing the image that corresponds to that specific direction. That creates the illusion of immersion.
Perhaps the simplest VR device is the Google Carboard that includes: two lenses to create the stereoscopy (illusion of depth) and utilizes the gyroscope and the processor of the cellphone. A carboard button on top of the visor pushes the center of the cellphone screen to make selections.
(Media: Google cardboard, from Google.com; View with naked eye at VR Google cardboard glasses from the demo of the Cardboard App)

View of Virtual reality game Virtual reality googles

Commonly the VR devices, like Oculus Quest 2 or HTC VIVE, include not only a headset (goggles) but also touch controllers (equivalent to a mouse in VR) to have a “manual” interaction with the virtual world. So, a virtual reality experience overlaps four attributes:

a) Video, since what you see are moving images, even if we don’t change the direction of your view.
b) 3D imagery, since you see a video with illusion of depth.
c) Spherical 360 images, since you see different videos as you look at different directions. Sometimes this stage, the spherical 360 images, is commercialized as “virtual reality.” Notice that, above in this article, in the spherical 360 images, the software author wrote “VR” in the bottom right corner.
d) Interaction (or immersion), since it’s viewer-centered and the viewer sees different videos depending on where she looks at.

Virtual reality (viewer centered images -c- with interaction -d-) doesn’t necessarily have to have all four attributes. Thus, virtual reality could still be a scene with no movement (no video), or a scene with no depth illusion (no 3D).
(Media: VR headset and touch controllers from Oculus Quest 2 at Amazon.com; View with a naked eye of the intro of a 3D game of Oculus Quest 2, from Oculus at Amazon.com)

Mixed reality is the mix of reality and virtual reality. The device shows real elements and virtual elements. It can be augmented reality, mostly reality with a minor virtual component or augmented virtuality, mostly virtual elements with a minor reality component.
(Media: A view of augmented reality from an Apple tablet, by ake1150sb; Video Vuforia Chalk, Augmented Reality Remote Assistance)

Tablet seen a street with augmented reality

Augmented Reality uses a mobile device (cell phone or tablet) and include virtual element (animations). A practical application of augmented reality is used to mark objects with virtual paint. Thus, for example, with the Vuforia chalk TM, a technician can write (in the air) with a touch controller a point of failure in a network of tubes.

Virtual reality googles

Augmented Virtuality, as the opposite of augmented reality, uses a headset and include real elements in it. In the video on the right, a person wearing a headset sees a virtual background, which constitutes nearly all her view, however, the dish on the table is the actual disk she has in front of hers, allowing her to take the food with her fork with precision and eat.
As mentioned, both 3D and virtual reality, as visuals, require extra tools (not only the image and naked eye), this makes these technologies hard to transport and to individualize in a K-12 class.
San José State University provides seminars on Virtual Reality to its faculty through eCampus and VR equipment can be borrowed as well. Also MLK Jr. Library has resources, like the KLERV lab (King Library Experiential Virtual Reality) for the library card holders.
(Media: VR headset and touch controllers from Oculus Quest 2 at Amazon.com; View with a naked eye of the intro of a 3D game of Oculus Quest 2, from Oculus at Amazon.com; Video Contextualized tasting experience in augmented virtuality)

Francisco de la Calle

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