SUYI Planning Process
During the 2007-2008 academic year, representatives from Seattle University’s divisions and colleges formed a “think tank” to determine the feasibility of a community engagement initiative. This group unanimously agreed that engaging in such an initiative fit with the University’s mission, core values, and assets, and further determined that the Initiative should focus on low-income youth living within the University’s neighborhood. The group also recommended the development of a planning committee to further research campus and community needs and assets, to examine best practices, and to explore important next steps in order to advance the development of the Initiative.
In 2008-2009, a formal planning committee led by John McKay, Professor from Practice, School of Law, conducted research and outreach efforts to develop a vision and focus for the Initiative. The committee conducted research of exemplary models of community engagement at other institutions of higher education including the development of 16 profiles of other models. The committee also offered the following recommendations to guide the development of the Initiative:
- Pursue justice for low-income youth living in the neighborhood.
- Engage comprehensively in the lives of youth, pre-k through college.
- Enhance Seattle University’s academic programs.
- Respond to what the community has defined as its greatest needs.
- Draw upon the University’s current partnerships and strengths.
- Animate the University’s mission of “educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world.”
Drawing upon these recommendations, during the 2009-2010 academic year, staff for the Seattle University Youth Initiative began an ambitious and extensive campus and community outreach strategy. Led by Kent Koth, Director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement and Special Assistant to the Provost for the Youth Initiative, SUYI staff hosted multiple open fora and outreach meetings to inform campus and community members about the Youth Initiative and solicit feedback. These events included:
Bailey Gatzert Elementary School teachers and staff • Campus Ministry staff • Campus Open Fora for University faculty and staff • College of Arts and Sciences graduate program faculty directors • College of Education faculty • College of Nursing faculty • Community Fora for neighborhood community organizations • Division of Mission and Ministry leadership team • Division of Student Development directors • Garfield High School teachers and staff • Guiding Lights Weekend participants • Magis: Alumni Committee for Mission Advisory Board • Non-Profit Leadership program faculty • Office of Human Resources staff • School of Law faculty, staff and students • Seattle University Board of Trustees • Seattle University Regents • Student Open Fora for undergraduate and graduate students • Washington Middle School teachers and staff • Yesler Terrace Residents Council
Additional major Youth Initiative outreach events included Seattle University’s Mission Day, two day-long Community Based Research workshops for faculty, staff, and community partners, and the SUYI Campus-Community Conference held on May 8, 2010. The Campus-Community Conference brought together over 300 members of the Seattle University community and the wider community. Attendees participated in the day-long event to learn about the needs and assets of the neighborhood, to understand the complex strengths and challenges of youth and their families, and to plan what the SUYI should entail.
All of the outreach events described above followed an overall strategy of mobilizing stakeholders to learn about and participate in the many phases of the Youth Initiative’s development. As a result, hundreds of individuals and dozens of campus and community programs have a strong commitment to the success of the Initiative. In addition, all events yielded valuable information to help determine the strategic direction of the Initiative. The SUYI Campus-Community Conference was especially useful, providing concrete and specific ideas for the Initiative’s potential short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals and activities.