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Civic Engagement at San Francisco State University

San Francisco State UniversityUnited States

Topic(s): Community Engagement
Institute for Civic and Community Engagement
Funding Source:
Government, University, NGO, Private, Other
Higher Ed - Public, NGO, Private, Government
Type of Institution:
30,469 in 2010
Highest Degree Offered:
Project Contact Information:
Gerald Eisman
Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, PP 750
San Francisco
United States
Email Address:

As one of the most ethnically and racially diverse urban campuses in the country, San Francisco State University (SF State) is known for valuing activism, social engagement and service to community. Working locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally, SF State cultivates strong leadership to advocate social, economic and educational inclusion, and participates in the civic life and political processes of the communities.

Project Description


SF State has long been at the forefront of progressive civic engagement by creating the country’s first College of Ethnic Studies in 1968, the Step to College program in 1980 and the Office of Community Service Learning in 1997. The University’s commitment to community service-learning is reflected throughout 8 colleges, with 47 departments offering students more than 500 courses through the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE) which links hands-on community service with academic study. Through community partnerships, SF State students volunteer in community projects which provide health education, English language classes for immigrants, violence prevention programs, and educational programs for at-risk youth.


SF State’s community engagement commitments are also reflected in the following aspects:

1) Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE)

ICCE provides opportunities for civic engagement and leadership development for students and faculty. Through innovative courses, experiential learning, political engagement, participatory action research, and direct services, the institute partners the resources and expertise of the university with the knowledge and assets of diverse communities.


2) Whirlwind Wheelchair International

The social integration of people with disabilities is the lifelong mission of MacArthur Fellowship recipient Ralf Hotchkiss, the founder of Whirlwind Wheelchair International based at SF State. The program has brought improved mobility to more than 50,000 people in Africa, Asia and Latin America by creating a global network of wheelchair inventors, designers, users and manufacturers to address the need for wheelchairs in the developing world and in disaster-stricken areas.


3) Community Health Works (CHW)

Community Health Works (CHW), the educational partnership between SF State and City College of San Francisco, has been tapped by The California Endowment to coordinate a $12 million, statewide program to fight asthma. CHW coordinates a dozen community-based partnerships across the state that identify and reduce asthma triggers.


4) Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies

SF State’s Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies is headquarters for the 3,700-acre San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve which is working to restore tidal marshes and protect estuarine habitat through research, monitoring and educational programs.


5) Welcome Back Program

Internationally trained health professionals gain a foothold in California’s job market with help from SF State’s Welcome Back program, operated in partnership with City College of San Francisco. It functions as a counseling, education and job placement service for immigrant health professionals, helping them navigate the state’s licensing system and obtain the necessary credentials to work in the United States. Welcome Back also aims to increase the numbers and ethnic diversity of health professionals practicing in medically underserved areas.


6) Morrison Artists Series

SF State makes top-quality chamber music available to the community through the Morrison Artists Series. Since 1952, the program has offered a series of free recitals by prominent chamber music ensembles.

Project Results

SF State was one of 62 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement, Outreach and Partnerships classification, which recognizes SF State’s dedication to community service learning and to collaborative partnerships that are mutually beneficial to scholarship and to the community. SF State is also one of six colleges and universities to receive Presidential Awards in the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service.

Gerald Eisman, director of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, was awarded the 2010 Richard E. Cone Award at a special ceremony in March. The award recognized Eisman’s accomplishments in creating and sustaining student and faculty community service throughout California

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