Central to Santa Clara University’s Jesuit, Catholic values and 160-year identity is a commitment to creating a more just and equitable world. This tradition calls on the University to be both courageous and imaginative in finding new ways to partner with businesses, community leaders, and organizations to help improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods that make up its extended community. SCU gives meaning to this commitment by working with our most vulnerable community members to overcome barriers to social and economic inclusion.
This commitment and tradition has its earliest roots in the Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP), which was founded nearly 50 years ago and continues to be an important presence in the community today. In the late 1960s, a program called “Project 50” was launched to introduce college life to 50 high-performing middle school students from underserved communities in San Jose. Many students who participated in the program are now alumni of SCU.
In 1985, the University expanded its outreach efforts again through the Arrupe Weekly Engagement Program. Originally known as the Eastside Project, the Arrupe Weekly Engagement Program promotes a more humane, just, and sustainable world through deeper understanding of and commitment to the local community. This program offers SCU students a tangible means to experience a process that challenges stereotypes, deepens the educational experience, and enriches the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual life of both communities.
Today, more than 1,200 students each year engage in transformative educational opportunities through one of 50 partnering community organizations. Students are provided with hands-on, real-world experiences, while building relationships with their community. Classes then reflect on what it means to be a global citizen in the 21st Century and experience the struggles and triumphs of the human spirit.
Initiatives like the Arrupe Weekly Engagement Program illustrate Santa Clara University’s commitment to partnering with local communities a value integral to the University’s strategic plan and goal of deeper engagement with Silicon Valley. Thriving Neighbors is a continuation of this history and strategy.