Our Impact

Engaging and connecting campus and community has long-lasting and measurable effects on students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. Explore our work to date through our Annual Report, participation from institutions around the country and other national recognition.

Annual Report

This report celebrates the collaborations of hundreds of local families and their scholars, Seattle University students, faculty, staff and community partners over the past academic year. Click to read about our milestones, stories and future plans. Read more on Issuu

CCE 2023 Annual Report

Bailey Gatzert Elementary

600+ Students

In the 2022-23 school year, SUYI engaged more than 600 students across all academic support and enrichment programs.

Change Maker Sign

275% Increase

In 2022-23, participation in the Change Makers program grew 275% — from eight to 30 scholars — and hosted a Change Maker Spring Summit.


400% Increase

Since beginning in 2020, the Diverse Business Enterprise (DBE) program has seen a 400% increase in university purchasing from Black-owned businesses and an 94% increase in DBE support as a whole.

Nationwide Impacts of Community Engagement

The Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI)
SUYI focuses on connecting Seattle University and its local neighborhoods has had a national impact, influencing other universities and communities. For several years, the Center for Community Engagement has hosted a series of national institutes attended by teams from more than 25 universities across the United States and Canada. These institutes and initiatives build community and create a space to share best practices among colleges and universities engaged in place-based efforts like the Youth Initiative.

Place-Based Justice Network
The Place-Based Justice Network (PBJN) is a learning community committed to transforming higher education and our communities by deconstructing systems of oppression through place-based community engagement. Originating from the Center for Community Engagement at Seattle University, this network is now based at the University of San Diego.

Learning for Equity Network
The Learning for Equity Network (LEN) brings together central Seattle families with Seattle Public Schools educators to build equitable learning environments in local elementary schools that foster a child’s math passion. Through intentional co-learning experiences, family leaders and educators will brainstorm, design and implement strategies and practices that build positive math learning environments both inside and outside of the classroom. The goal is to blend community, culture and math concepts seamlessly together supporting the development of a positive math identity for students.

Place-Based Community Engagement Book
While an increasing number of universities have or are committed to engaging their campuses in their surrounding communities, many recognize they lack the strategic focus and resources to maximize and sustain their impact on those communities. Place-Based Community Engagement in Higher Education by Erica K. Yamamura and Kent Koth provides a powerful way to creatively connect campus and community to foster positive social transformation.

This book presents the model of place-based community engagement as a powerful process for attaining more positive and enduring results in local communities and stimulating wider engagement by campus constituencies. Drawing upon the concept of collective impact and using data-driven decision making, place-based initiatives build long term partnerships based upon a shared vision. Done thoughtfully, these place-based initiatives have attained impressive results.

Our initiatives have garnered high honors and interest nationwide as a model of university-led community engagement. Through the high awareness of the Youth Initiative, we’re able to share out learnings on a bigger stage, serving as a model for universities seeking new ways to engage with their communities.

  • Seattle University has been recognized as one of the top 25 universities for service learning by U.S. News and World Report for the past 10 years.
  • The Carnegie Foundation selected Seattle University for its Community Engagement Classification in 2020, indicating an institutional commitment to community engagement.
  • In 2020, Seattle University was awarded the Richard Guarasci Award for Institutional Transformation, one of only four Impact Awards among a national network of 1,000 Campus Compact member institutions.
  • CCE Executive Director Kent Koth and Erica Yamamura (faculty in College of Education) co-authored a book (Stylus 2018) that profiles Seattle University and four other higher education institutions pursuing place-based engagement. Koth and Yamamura have given keynotes at numerous regional and national conferences.
  • In 2017, the Center for Community Engagement launched the Place-Based Justice Network, uniting 36 member institutions (and growing) in pursuing place-based strategies like the Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI).
  • In 2012, The White House honored Seattle University with the Presidential Award for Community Service, the highest recognition by the federal government to a college or university for its civic engagement, service learning and volunteerism. In 2013, the Youth Initiative made the President’s Higher Education Honor Roll with Distinction for community service.

Community engagement as defined by The Carnegie Foundation: “describes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.”

"For two decades, the Sundborg Center has been at the forefront of bridging town and gown. The team at CCE has been important thought leaders shaping the field of place-based community engagement. What we appreciate so much is the generosity of spirit and collegiality. They are considered leaders in convening and sharing wisdom with colleagues from across the country on how to intentionally co-create and integrate community voice and wisdom." —Chris Nayve, AVP for community engagement, University of San Diego.

"Our families, our children, our businesses didn't have access to the knowledge, innovation, energy of youth, resources, creativity and new development that SU represented until the Sundborg Center for Community Engagement was created. The vault of wealth was opened and the professors and students came out into the community to share the wealth in the form of the Reading Out Loud Early (ROLE) program that prepared our toddlers and young mothers transitioning from homelessness for pre-school, plus hired staff that opened up the purchasing department at SU for Black Businesses to get contracts." —Evelyn Thomas Allen, Convener, Black Community Impact Alliance

“This effort is absent even a hint of artifice. The relationship between Seattle U and its neighbors works both ways. A community gets to tap into the considerable resources of the private university on the hill and Seattle U gets to sharpen the Jesuit philosophy of public service that helps distinguish it from other schools.” —The Seattle Times