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Writing Partners takes place every semester and involves SJSU students pairing up with one or more students from Anne Darling Elementary School and Olinder Elementary School. Over the course of the semester, the students write letters to each other to enhance writing, reading and interpersonal skills. University students practiced writing for a young audience, paying attention to word choice, grammar and spelling, and setting a good example for the children. They helped the students with interpersonal issues, questions about college, and promoting a college-going mindset. At the end of the semester, the Writing Partners met each other in person at the San José State campus or their elementary school. The SJSU students took their partners on a tour of their favorite places on campus.

The young children learn about the best parts of the college experience from SJSU students who have just entered college. Before going on a student-guided tour, Anne Darling and Olinder students participated in two activities from one of our projects, Watershed-in-a-Box. SJSU students took their pen-pal on a tour of the campus including the renovated recreation center, the Cesar Chavez Arc, and the John Carlos and Tommie Smith Statues.

Through a partnership with the SJSU Game Developer club led by Dr. James Morgan, SJSU gaming students were able to engage SJSU students and their pen-pals in a paper game prototyping activity to get students thinking about how one day they can create their own game. By the end of the tour, the Anne Darling and Olinder students were so excited about the campus that they couldn’t wait to come back to SJSU. Writing Partners is about helping students practice their writing skills in a way that exposes them to a college environment.

By the Numbers | 2018-19

35 SJSU students engaged

35 residents engaged

350 hours of service

$8,900 value

Project Impact

  • 35 Anne Darling Elementary School and Olinder Elementary School students learned the importance of writing, were exposed to college environments, and improved their writing and interpersonal skills
  • 15 SJSU students learned to proofread letters and write for a younger audience
  • 99% of elementary school students said that they liked writing letters to SJSU students a lot
  • More than 50% of the elementary school students said they believe that writing letters to SJSU students helped improve their writing

Community Voices

“I can already tell from your first letter that you have such a great and fun personality. We are going to have so much fun when we finally get to meet.”
–Marissa, SJSU Sociology student

“This program gave me a better appreciation for the English literacy challenges of a child growing up in a Spanish language household.”
–Alice, SJSU Sociology student

“You can make an impact on another person’s view of themselves and help them see a better future for themselves.”
–SJSU Sociology student

“I think that writing to a university student maybe helped me in my writing because I pushed myself to be better.”
–Olinder Elementary School student

“I love the part where we make our own board game because it expands your imagination.”
–Olinder Elementary School student