Civic Engagement & Outreach
MSU Denver regularly collaborates with local organizations to solve community problems while providing our students with valuable, real-world experience. That’s what education is about— teaching you everything you need to know, connecting you to the right people and experiences, and showing you the meaning behind being connected. In the end, communities succeed when citizens collaborate and contribute to the better good.
The Center for Urban Connections is dedicated to promoting these kinds of collaborative relationships between MSU Denver its surrounding neighbors and neighborhoods. Centrally located in the student services hub (Tivoli), the Center is a resource for community partners and for MSU Denver students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The Center is committed to strengthening partnerships with neighbor organizations, enhancing and expanding community-based learning and research opportunities, developing student leaders, and supporting college-wide service and outreach to advance the educational mission of the University and the common good. Inside or outside of class, the Center seeks to deepen understanding of urban issues through meaningful involvement in urban solutions.
Some examples of MSU Denver’s University-community partnerships are:
The Urban Teacher Partnership (UTP) is a collaborative effort of MSU Denver, Denver Public Schools and the Mayor's Office for Education and Children that is designed to prepare and support individuals who wish to make a commitment to teaching math, science, English or social studies in high-need middle or high schools. The UTP program helps prepare students for teaching and learning in urban schools, and involves extensive field experience at a DPS Urban Apprentice School.
Art Builds Communities (ABC) is an art outreach program facilitated by MSU Denver’s Center of Visual Art (CVA). The ABC program is designed to provide visual art/multicultural art lessons to inner-city youth ages 6-12. Through hands-on art workshops, this program encourages positive, constructive use of free time for at-risk youth through involvement in the arts and provides positive social interaction in a safe environment.
WMS 3170, “Social Justice, Self and Citizenship,” is an example of course-based service learning. The two-part course taught by Dr. A.J. Alejano-Steele includes a 45-hour service learning requirement, where students can choose a placement site in a diverse setting unlike their own personal experience. The other half involves discussion of their on-site learning in the context of prejudice, privilege and oppression. Example placements for the 45-hour volunteer requirement have included Excelsior Youth Center, Ft. Logan Mental Health, and Gateway Battered Women’s Shelter, among others.
Co-curricular examples of engagement include the MSU Denver women’s softball team partnering with girls softball at West High School. Both on the field and off, the Metro athletes mentor the high school girls, providing valuable role modeling not just for athletic skill but for academic achievement as well.
Through the Center for Urban Connections, students who are engaged in service work—either through a course or on their own—can enroll in the UCAN Serve program, an AmeriCorps-sponsored volunteer incentive program that gives educational stipends to students participating in 300-900 hours of service. In the first three years (2007-10) of its existence at MSU Denver, the UCAN Serve program has served over 350 students, with a combined educational award of over $500,000.