Mission Driven

Learn about the Sundborg Center for Community Engagement's mission, vision, values, goals and strategies to advance justice, remove institutional barriers and educate change-makers.

Mission, Vision and Values

Our Mission

The Sundborg Center for Community Engagement (CCE) connects campus and community to pursue a more just and humane world.

Our 2030 Vision

To transform Seattle University's relationship with central Seattle, expand trusting partnerships and deepen learning to advance justice, remove institutional barriers and educate change-makers.

Our Values

~ Respect ~ Collaboration ~ Responsibility ~ Service ~ Justice

Our Pathway

Goal 1:
By 2030, Seattle University and its community partners will provide a pathway of support for 1,000 neighborhood youth and their families.

As a result:

  • Neighborhood scholars will have an increased sense of belonging and more confidence in their ability to thrive in their academic careers.
  • Caregivers will have a deeper sense of belonging and have greater confidence in how to support the academic careers of their scholars.
  • 40 neighborhood scholars will be pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Seattle University.​

Goal 2:
By 2030, all Seattle University students will have a high-quality community engaged learning experience.

As a result:

  • Seattle University students will feel better connected to the community and have an enriched Seattle University experience.
  • The retention and graduation rates of Seattle University students will increase.
  • Seattle University graduates will be even more prepared to positively contribute to the workforce and lead for a just and humane world.

Goal 3:
By 2030, Seattle University will be a hub for campus and community leaders to incubate and implement solutions to the complex challenges facing Seattle.

As a result:

  • Dozens of campus departments will work alongside local residents, institutions, and organizations through long-term reciprocal partnerships.  ​
  • Seattle University’s local and national reputation for high-quality academics grounded in solving real world issues will increase. 

Strategy 1:
Strengthen and enhance the Seattle University Youth Initiative pathway of learning and enrichment activities with youth and families living in central Seattle by:

  • Refining and expanding mentoring, tutoring, after school programming, early learning, classroom support, and summer opportunities.
  • Enhancing parent leadership and the home-to-school connection.

Strategy 2:
Foster leadership through transformational learning experiences by:

  • Fully integrating community engaged learning into university academic programs and courses.
  • Offering high-quality university student employment opportunities in central Seattle.
  • Increasing faculty and community partner capacity for community-based participatory research and the dissemination of lessons learned.

Strategy 3:
Reimagine systems by pursuing equity through innovation and iteration by:

  • Serving as the hub for campus and community leaders to incubate and implement systemic solutions in education, housing, the economy, the environment, health care, and technology.

Dear Friends of the CCE,

Inspired by Seattle University’s Jesuit Catholic ethos and in partnership with many local organizations, the Sundborg Center for Community Engagement (CCE) strives to live and lead as an anti-racist organization. We are committed to anti-racist practices that honor the full humanity of all community members and collaborate across cultures and generations.

People of Color have worked to name, analyze and dismantle racism in the United States for centuries. In the context of our work in Seattle, our community members of Color expand and deepen CCE’s capacity as leaders, and confront unjust practices in our organizations, schools and communities. This commitment is rooted in success for youth, well-being of families and health of the community.

We acknowledge that the work of racial justice is an ongoing, dynamic and collaborative process. When systemic and individual acts of racism and bias occur in our programs and in the community, we look to amplify the words of Seattle University’s Chief Diversity Officer Natasha Martin, J.D., “When circumstances occur that impact the health of our climate or the safety of members of our campus community, we aim to respond wholeheartedly and mindfully.”

We pursue our commitment to living and leading as an anti-racist organization through:

  • Challenging our capacity to think critically about the role race plays in our relationships, programs, organizations and institutions so that we may foster a culture of reflection and accountability that addresses interpersonal and institutional racism.
  • Responsiveness and responsibility to disrupting legacies of injustice and systems of oppression that have led to ongoing gaps in opportunity, health and wealth.
  • Enhancing individual and collective racial equity professional development for CCE staff, student leaders, volunteers and our partners
  • Engaging in bold action to build a more equitable community, placing greater emphasis on partnerships with organizations led by People of Color, and increasing our focus on asset-based approaches to all campus and community partnerships.
  • Discerning wisdom and insights from community members, prioritizing relationships and partnerships with local families, and evaluating our strategic planning, programs, training, recruitment, retention and events through an anti-racist lens.

The construct of whiteness must continue to be something we collectively explore, work on and heal through. Learning how it affects everyone and our own racial identities can guide us to increased awareness of how privilege, power, and dominant culture impact our relationships and work. Despite how good the intentions may be, without a fundamental understanding of institutional and individual racism, we may be complicit in allowing a culture of racism to persist. We must actively reject the “white savior complex”, and instead collaborate in solidarity across racial difference in equitable relationships. The more open discussion of the reality and impact of systemic racism, the better equipped we are to pursue a more just and humane world.

We welcome feedback from our campus and community partners on ways we can better work towards living and leading as an anti-racist organization.

Sundborg Center for Community Engagement (CCE) Staff 

Since 2004, the Sundborg Center for Community Engagement (CCE) has worked to connect campus and community, further pursuing the Seattle University mission of educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world.

Reporting to the Office of the Provost, CCE also fosters collaborative partnerships with dozens of academic departments and campus offices in support of Seattle University’s ethical and effective engagement hyper-locally and throughout the greater Puget Sound region.

  • 2008: CCE began providing staff and facilitation for a neighborhood-based community engagement initiative that would become known as the Seattle University Youth Initiative.
  • 2011: After a three-year planning process that engaged hundreds of campus and community partners, CCE launched the Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI). SUYI strengthens education and support systems for more than 1,000 local youth and their families, while enhancing the University by providing community engaged learning and research experience to students, faculty and staff.  As Seattle U launched the Youth Initiative, the Children’s Literacy Project, which had been housed in the College of Education since its inception in 1991, merged with Center for Community Engagement to foster collaboration and maximize impact.
  • 2012: Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) received a $30 million HUD “Choice Neighborhood” Grant which included $4 million in additional education support services; SHA asked Seattle U and the Center for Community Engagement to lead the education effort. Through this partnership, CCE has provided leadership and staffing to pursue SUYI's bold vision.
  • 2013-present: CCE and its campus and community partners continue to expand SUYI efforts that enhance the capacity of neighborhood children, youth and families through school partnerships, affordable housing, economic opportunity, community health, public safety and arts.
  • National Recognition: Seattle University has received national accolades for its commitment to community engagement, including recognition from President Obama with one of only five Presidential Awards for community service - the highest recognition by the federal government to a college or university for its civic engagement, service-learning and volunteerism. The U.S. News and World Report has also consistently ranked Seattle University in the top 25 in the country for service-learning.
  • Sharing wisdom: Seattle University has also hosted dozens of delegations from other universities interested in learning about SUYI and Seattle U’s comprehensive community engagement strategies. The Center is currently working to set-up a national network of faith-based universities pursuing place-based community engagement in their communities.

The Center for Community Engagement has significantly expanded and deepened the practice of community engaged learning among Seattle U faculty, improved and strengthened partnerships with dozens of community organizations, and developed hundreds of opportunities for Seattle U students to lead their peers through transformational learning experiences.

Read more about the history and development of community engagement at Seattle University: Lessons Learned from Seattle University’s Journey of Community Engagement.

Lessons Learned