Dear McCarthy Center Friends and Partners,
This moment in time is a true test of our authenticity as an institution committed to the public good. With rapidly changing national, state, local, and institutional policies designed to contain the pandemic, there is real danger that our connections to each other will diminish. In this context, we need to focus on building the strength and vitality of our communities more than ever. Our partnerships with local nonprofit organizations and city agencies provide a starting point for collaboration around the most pressing issues emerging at this moment.
Community-engaged learning continues to be a way to weave us together virtually, even while we are being cautioned to distance ourselves physically. At USF, the move to online learning signaled an end to onsite community-engaged learning for most students in an effort to prioritize community safety through social distancing. Indeed, many community partners had already developed COVID-19 policies that significantly restricted in-person volunteering.
Amidst the pandemic, faculty and community partners are mobilizing their creativity and flexibility to imagine alternative ways to advance the common good through student engagement. In conversation with community partners, faculty are shoring up support for urgent and ongoing project-based services, guiding students in pivoting away from direct service to offer needed virtual support for organizations, and curating innovative opportunities to build and strengthen community through collaborative projects with peers and online platforms.
Community-engaged learning continues to be a way to weave us together virtually
In the coming weeks and months, our community-engaged students will support community organizers for housing rights by calling senior neighbors to check on their health and welfare, enhance outreach efforts for organizations providing emergency services by designing outreach materials, and host virtual story circles for the sixth annual “People’s State of the Union” offered through the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture in collaboration with the Poor People’s Campaign. In addition, we have many students and faculty who are choosing to serve on the front lines to care for the most vulnerable groups during the pandemic, supporting social service organizations in delivering groceries to seniors and distributing food to our unhoused neighbors.
Engage San Francisco
In the Western Addition, Engage San Francisco Literacy tutors and Prince Hall Learning Center will pilot a FaceTime homework support and reading program so that our tutors can continue to support these and other children with whom they have been working all year. Additionally, tutors are continuing to meet as teams via Zoom, complete their professional development assignments on the Fillmore, and create lesson plans, literacy games and books lists for a future book drive. While all but a few of our students have left campus, we know that the need to provide meaningful and educational opportunities for children out of school continues.
We have continued contact with all of the Community Partner Innovation Fund recipients and we are working with them as they adapt their project to the realities of COVID-19. We are also in touch with Mo-MAGIC leadership and working with the collective to identify how the asset map we have completed might be of the most use.
In addition to children who are now being home schooled, we know that seniors and those with compromised health need extra help as well. We can and will use our social media to reach those who are able to respond to these needs. Please let us know and we will get word out.
Sadly, out of necessity, we have canceled or postponed a number of events that we looked forward to this spring including our broadcast of KQED’s Forum on the Road, our Census 2020 event, and even our year-end recognition and appreciation celebration. We will keep you informed about when we can reschedule and share resources about maintaining our health, supporting children’s learning, and accessing emergency help. While we will not have an in-person celebration, we plan to recognize our outstanding community partnerships at the end of the year with a special McCarthy Center web page highlighting the best in our communities. We won’t be able to hug and thank you in person, but we can and will shout out to the world our appreciation!
We hope you are staying safe and healthy in body and mind. We hope to hear from you. We value you and your commitment to building bonds in community now more than ever.
The staff of the Leo T. McCarthy Center
for Public Service and the Common Good
You can make a gift to the Leo T. McCarthy Center HERE.