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2023 projects stretch from Bay Area to Central Valley

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The Office of Community Engagement supports Stanford faculty and staff working with community collaborators on projects that align with the Stanford Vision to accelerate solutions to affordability, health and sustainability.

The 2023 projects, chosen by a university selection committee, center on building healthy and resilient communities in the Bay Area and beyond. They range widely, but the joint projects share a common goal of connecting research and education to make a difference in the communities that Stanford touches. 

They appear, alphabetically by project title, below:

Parent educational meeting for school meal advocacy

Parents work with the Dolores Huerta Foundation on nutrition education in the San Joaquin Valley.  Image credit: Dolores Huerta Foundation 

A Community-Academic Alliance to Address Child Hunger by Promoting Universal School Meals in the San Joaquin Valley

Community Collaborators: Dolores Huerta Foundation Bakersfield; Cultiva la Salud Fresno; University of California  Nutrition Policy Institute Berkeley

Stanford Leadership: Anisha I. Patel Partnerships for Research in Child Health; School of Medicine

California’s San Joaquin Valley is home to a large number of low-income Latino agricultural-worker families who disproportionately experience food insecurity and diet-related diseases. Yet free school meal participation is surprisingly low. Through the existing alliance between Partnerships for Research in Child Health, UC Nutrition Policy Institute, Cultiva la Salud and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, OCE funds would pay for the co-creation of  culturally and linguistically relevant materials for Spanish-speaking families, utilizing their feedback, that explain the history of school meals, USDA nutrition requirements, and how families can advocate for school meal improvements that fit within the constraints of the school nutrition programs. Seed funding would also support dissemination of report findings to USDA and other key nutrition advocacy groups.


A Living Lab for Sustainable Employment among Stanford's Working Learners

Community Collaborator: San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA)

Stanford Leadership: Mitchell L. Stevens Peninsula Working Learners Collaboratory; Graduate School of Education (GSE)

Fully two-thirds of employed U.S. adults are “working learners,” yet they often are thwarted in career mobility because of pervasive employer bias toward those who do not hold college degrees. The Peninsula Working Learners Collaboratory in the Graduate School of Education’s Pathways Lab has developed relationships with leaders in many Stanford units that employ working learners. Because Stanford also faces chronic recruitment and retention problems in many entry-level positions, it is collaborating on this project with SAMCEDA (comprising businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs)  to serve instrumental workforce-development needs and social-justice goals. OCE funding supports stipends for members of a community advisory group, a research assistant, and equipment needed to design, build and implement novel recruitment and mobility pathways into employment at Stanford.


Graduate School of Education, Cubberly Education Building 485 Lasuen Mall

Graduate School of Education. Image credit: Linda A. Cicero, Stanford News Service 

Test kits by sink of running water

Testing kits at Nuestra Casa. Image credit: Courtesy of Nuestra Casa 

Addressing Water Billing and Affordability in East Palo Alto

Community Collaborator: Nuestra Casa East Palo Alto

Stanford Leadership: Sarah Fletcher School of Engineering; Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

East Palo Alto has a long history of water supply issues and many residents report mistrust and concern about affordability and quality of their tap water. Unlike many cities, no single entity provides water service to East Palo Alto’s 29,000 residents, a consequence of decisions made by San Mateo County before East Palo Alto’s incorporation as a city. With water service divided between two companies and the city, the different billing structures make it difficult to understand or dispute charges, and contribute to perceptions of unfair billing practices. In collaboration with Nuestra Casa, the project will create educational materials on water billing structures and tackle billing questions for residents. The project also will quantitatively analyze the state of water affordability across the three water entities through the Fletcher Lab’s research program on water affordability. OCE funding will support the development of educational materials and direct engagement of East Palo Alto residents, while improving understanding on water affordability in an underserved community in California.

Community College Outreach Program - Research Internships and Mentorship Initiative

Community Collaborators: Cañada College, Redwood City;  College of San Mateo, San Mateo;  Foothill College Los Altos Hills;  Mission College, Santa Clara

Stanford leadership: Anne Villeneuve, Sarah Stern, Megan Agajanian, Community College Outreach Program (CCOP); School of Medicine

Community college students come from a diverse range of demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and include  first-generation and low-income students, who remain underrepresented in STEM. To help address these challenges, CCOP provides three opportunities for  community college students: 1)  Paid research internships in Stanford Bioscience labs; 2) A transfer application and career development bootcamp; 3) A learning experience  in developing scientific hypotheses/critical thinking skills and mentorship through the Science Small Groups Program. OCE funding will pay for lab materials, internship stipends to reduce a significant financial barrier, as well as honoraria for mentors, and “Day of Science” events at partner community colleges.


A student in developmental biology explains her research on her poster

Poster day for community college student interns participating in the CCCOP internship, Summer 2022.  Image credit: Lisa Chung 

 First day of Summer Session in 2022. Image credit: Courtesy of Stanford Summer Session

Community College Summer Access Program

Community Collaborator: Foothill College, Los Altos Hills

Stanford Leadership: Danielle Wood, Nicole Berkin, Summer Session; Stanford Continuing Studies and Summer Session

This project marks Year Two of a pilot program from Stanford Summer Session serving first-generation and/or low-income students from Foothill College. The pilot gives the opportunity for as many as 30 Foothill students to take a free 3-unit course during summer quarter. OCE funding will support a kickoff event hosted by Stanford Summer Session for about 150 people in June, aimed at fostering a sense of welcome and belonging, while connecting participating students to other current and former community college students on campus. Feedback from the first year revealed that despite initial misgivings, Foothill students felt that they were part of the Stanford community at summer’s end. Summer Session seeks to expand that success by bringing students together from multiple campus initiatives and supporting them to build connections from the outset.

Connecting Generations Through Haiku

Community Collaborator: PVI Adult Day Services at Rosener House, Menlo Park 

Stanford Leadership: Yoshiko Matsumoto, Stanford Global Studies; School of Humanities and Sciences

The haiku project is conducted through intergenerational small-group sessions of creation and appreciation of a short form of Japanese poetry (haiku). It aims to engage older adults in positive and inclusive social interactions and maintain verbal creativity. Informed by medical and psychological studies reporting that older adults living with cognitive impairments are at risk of social isolation, the project first started with online and in-person sessions, with a grant from the Changing Human Experience Initiative. OCE funding will support more frequent and expanded haiku activity sessions via a partnership with PVI Adult Day Services at Rosener House, so that older adults living with cognitive impairments and Stanford students can benefit from more sustained, intimate social and artistic interactions through this intergenerational activity.


A demonstration of how haiku for older adults at Rosener house works

Haiku project team runs through a rehearsal at Stanford. Image credit: Melanie Vetter

Hattie Tate of OUSD and Greg Walton of Stanford talk inside classroom

Stanford psychologist Greg Walton and Hattie Tate, administrator at Oakland Unite's Juvenile Justice Center during an earlier collaboration that led to the 2023 project. Image Credit: Kurt Hickman 

Elevating Students' Voices and Choices to Strengthen Classroom Relationships for Foster Youth

Community Collaborator: San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE), Redwood City

Stanford Leadership: Greg Walton,  Stanford Impact Labs; School of Humanities and Sciences

A strong relationship with a teacher can make all the difference for a young person. But being recognized, and having one’s values and goals understood, may be especially critical for youth who face particularly challenging circumstances. In partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education, this project builds on prior work with student groups, youth, and educators in Oakland Unified School District to create a structured process that elevates the voices of youth in the foster care system in introducing themselves to an educator of their choosing, including their goals and values in school and challenges they face. This procedure will help students and educators come together at critical junctures, setting the stage for positive relationships and growth. OCE funding will support research assistants, coordinator, manager, and convenings of county education and community-based organizations in collective inquiry on supporting students in foster care.


Equity Forward Anchor Network

Community Collaborator: Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), San Mateo

Stanford Leadership: Jeremy Weinstein, Stanford Impact Labs; School of Humanities and Sciences

Mobilized by fresh momentum to improve material conditions in this region, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) launched Equity Forward as a multi-sector movement to close the racial wealth gap in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Stanford partnered with SVCF to engage a network of 14 regional public and private colleges and universities in thinking through how collectively we can be a part of the solution to foster shared economic prosperity. To deepen these initial conversations, OCE funding will support the establishment of an anchor-institution network for higher education in this region. The new Equity Forward Anchor Network is intended to generate a shift in institutional practices, centering equitable economic development and directly address the imbalance of economic prosperity that Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color have in our two counties. The goal is to build momentum for a new “normal” of how place-based institutions can support developing mutually beneficial economic opportunities with historically marginalized communities.


A Black family of three smile into the camera

Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) serves as the administrative and operational backbone for the Equity Forward Anchor Network,  Image credit: Courtesy of SVCF  

A child tries out a vegetable cone

A child samples a vegetable cone. Image credit: Linda A. Cicero, Stanford News Service 

Food is Medicine: A Community Campus Partnership for Food Security

Community Collaborators: Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, San Jose;  Ravenswood Family Health Network

Stanford Leadership: Jonathan Shaw, Lisa Chamberlain, School of Medicine

Stanford Community Engagement Hubs: Department of Pediatrics, Office of Child Health Equity and Department of Medicine, Community Partnership Program

This project, in collaboration with Second Harvest Food Bank, focuses on identifying facilitators and barriers to the adoption of food insecurity screenings within Stanford Medicine and Ravenswood Family Health Center. In the spring and summer of 2023, food security work groups will explore the current state of referrals to Second Harvest and determine opportunities for future enhancements, led by community needs. The project will culminate in a Food Insecurity Convening in the summer of 2023, bringing together Stanford Medicine and community organizations to share innovative lessons learned and explore opportunities for wider collaborations.

IDD-TRANSFORM: Partnering to Improve IDD Health in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties

Community Collaborator: Special Olympics Northern California

Stanford Leadership: Holly Tabor, Lisa Goldman Rosas, IDD-TRANSFORM; School of Medicine

This project will focus on improving the health, health care, and health outcomes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in a measurable way. This population has been traditionally and historically marginalized by challenges in accessing health care and providers; they  experience significant health disparities, poorer health outcomes and shorter life expectancies. This project,  with partner Special Olympics of Northern California, will engage the Stanford community, including students, faculty, and staff and across multiple schools, in several key activities.  OCE funds will support a core advisory board, health forum speakers and at least one event at Stanford with Special Olympics Northern California.


Eye health screening test during Special Olympics Nor Cal event

 A participant goes through an eye screening at the health tent during the November 2022 Fall Games in Davis, Calif. Image credit: Special Olympics Northern California 


Three students sit in a redwood forest and ancestral home of the Muwekma Ohlone

 Image credit: Field Conservation Facility 


Indigenous Land Stewardship Practicum

Community Collaborator: Muwekma Ohlone Tribe

Stanford Leadership: Laura Jones, Field Conservation Facility; Lands, Buildings & Real Estate

This project brings together staff, faculty, and students from the Field Conservation Facility, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, O’Donohue Farm, the Native American Cultural Center, and Native American Studies to support and amplify the goals of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. OCE funding will support a series of social and learning opportunities designed to advance local land stewardship on lands formerly and presently occupied by the Muwekma Ohlone people, including tools and materials, transportation, planning and event expenses. Collaborators seek to strengthen their relationships and build community reliance during a period of great environmental change, in a way that is most supportive to the tribe. This includes building capacity for the continued impact of the tribe’s approximately 500 members in the five Bay Area counties encompassing their homeland.

Interactive Technology for Skin: Community Outreach, Research and Education

Community Collaborator: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

Stanford Leadership: Jeremy Bailenson, School of Humanities and Sciences; Janet Carlson, Graduate School of Education; Dawn H. Siegel, School of Medicine

Stanford Community Engagement Hub: Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET)

The Center to Support Excellence in Teaching is collaborating with the San Mateo County Office of Education to co-design and pilot an interactive virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) STEM education curriculum in San Mateo secondary schools. Interactive Technology for Skin: Community Outreach, Research, and Education (iTS-CORE) will use dermatology as a lens. The approach is to teach key STEM ideas and increase career awareness by creating  multisensory AR and VR experiences about sun safety, skin cancer awareness, and skin health that inspire marginalized students to pursue careers in medicine and science in a manner that is both scalable and sustainable. OCE seed funds will support coding of AR/VR experiences, focus groups, pilot testing, statistician for data analysis  and an AR/VR machine.


Avatars like this will be used for the interactive technology for skin project

Virtual and augmented reality plays a key role in the collaboration with the San Mateo County Office of Education. Image credit: Avatar created using Ready Player Me 

PRIDENet staff will provide information at events around Santa Clara Valley

PRIDEnet staff work at The Pride Study table to conduct outreach at a 2022 event. Image credit: Courtesy of PRIDEnet 

LGBTQ+ Health Research Pop-Ups

Community Collaborators: Project MORE, Santa Clara; Office of LGBTQ Affairs, County of Santa Clara, San Jose

Stanford Leadership: Mitchell R. Lunn, Juno Obedin-Maliver, PRIDEnet; School of Medicine

PRIDEnet, based at Stanford, connects LGBTQ+ community members with ways to participate in health research and creates opportunities for community input to inform all stages of the research process. A major barrier to research participation is that many community members do not have an understanding of what health research is and why LGBTQ+ representation is important. This project aims to address this barrier through creating dynamic community engagement and educational experiences throughout Santa Clara County, including  on-site opportunities to participate in research such as Stanford’s The PRIDE Study. OCE seed funds will support LGBTQ+ Health Research Pop-Ups for three such experiences in Santa Clara County in conjunction with its partners, and production of a video for proof of concept.

Para Pro Academy

Community Collaborator: Santa Clara Unified School District 

Stanford Leadership: Christopher J. Lemons, Stanford Down Syndrome Research Center, Graduate School of Education, School of Humanities and Sciences

Paraeducators are special education support personnel who provide direct academic and behavior support to students with disabilities. Professional development opportunities for paraeducators are often limited and many report feeling unprepared to do their job well. Further, the special education teachers who supervise paraeducators also report having insufficient training and time to provide high quality professional development  and coaching to the paraeducators they support. The Para Pro Academy project Santa Clara Unified School District is designed to provide high-quality, research-based professional development and coaching to 14 paraeducators who support elementary students with an intellectual or developmental disability who are also from Black, Hispanic, and/or low-income families. OCE seed funds will pay for honoraria for paraeducators, teachers and presenters.

Paraeducators work closely with students with intellectual disabilities

Image credit: ShutterStock 

Umbrellas in a retail business doorway provide makeshift shelter

Makeshift shelter in a retail business doorway. Image credit: Dan Burton on Unsplash 

Poverty Amidst Affluence: Rethinking Service Coordination for the Unhoused

Community Collaborator: LifeMoves Santa Clara and San Mateo counties

Stanford Leadership: David Chang, Primary Care and Population Health, School of Medicine

In tandem with longitudinal efforts to expand access to affordable housing, shelters are crucial in facilitating effective interventions to reduce interwoven health disparities and poverty faced by people experiencing homelessness (PEH). One key health disparity facing PEH is untreated substance use disorder. To address this gap, the Stanford Housing Equity Project and faculty at the School of Medicine will partner with LifeMoves, the largest shelter system in Silicon Valley, to establish and evaluate a robust contingency management program to better support PEH engagement and retention in substance use disorder treatment programs.


Ravenswood-Stanford Live Arts Learning Partnership

Community Collaborator: Ravenswood City School District, East Palo Alto

Stanford Leadership: Chris Lorway, Stanford Live, Vice President for the Arts

Stanford Live is building on a long-standing relationship, following an invitation by Ravenswood City School District in 2015-16 to collaborate on an arts education partnership, which included an artists-in-schools program. Resident teaching artists from Quinteto Latino visit music classes in all district schools, and offer  individualized training for music teachers. The OCE seed funding will support an expanded program, including teaching artist visits to classrooms before and after students attend matinees on campus in order to lead activities that deepen their  learning experience. Other new elements to the program include expanded music and art residencies. Finally, the OCE seed funds will make possible two composer commissions for works for middle school ensembles to play side by side with Quinteto Latino.

Photo right: Armando Castellano, lead teaching artist of Quinteto Latino, collaborates with students on a creative project in a classroom of Ravenswood City School District. Image credit: Quinteto Latino 

Students work on music project through the Ravenswood-Stanford Live partnership
A Bay Area food distributor and a Black farmer scan his field in Fresno, Calif. in 2021

Chris Vlahopouliotis (Daylight Foods) and Will Scott (Scott Family Farms and African American Farmers of California), at a farm in Fresno, May 21, 2021 Image credit: Diane Mavica

R&DE Stanford Food Institute Black Farmers Purchasing Program and Research Initiative

Community Collaborator: Farms to Grow, Inc. Oakland

Stanford Leadership: Sophie Egan, R&DE Stanford Food Institute, R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries

The Residential & Dining Enterprises Stanford Food Institute (SFI) has a robust initiative to support Black businesses as part of R&DE Stanford Dining’s overarching racial equity plan and sustainable food program, One Plate, One Planet. It started with designing a long-term program to purchase from Black farmers in 2020. To share what was learned, SFI and Farms to Grow, Inc., will co-produce two open-source, free toolkits to guide direct purchasing from Black farmers, and to equip farmers to engage with colleges, universities and other institutions. The project is intended to raise awareness of the historical and systemic racial injustice inflicted on Black farmers, help scale the purchasing model, and increase economic benefits to a much larger number of Black farmers. OCE seed funds will pay for farmer liaison work, research and writing of the toolkits, editorial review by Black farmers, dissemination, and a student education/engagement event with the Stanford Doerr School in Spring 2023.

SFUSD Shoestrings Program: Supporting Young Black Students and Their Families

Community Collaborator: San Francisco Unified School District Early Education Department,  Shoestrings Program, San Francisco

Stanford Leadership: Jelena Obradović, SPARK Lab and Stanford-SFUSD Partnership, Graduate School of Education

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Shoestrings program began in 2018 in response to the disproportionate number of Black students designated for exclusionary discipline and special education. Each year, Shoestrings engages up to 25 preschool, transitional kindergarten, and kindergarten-age students and their families in an intensive 10-week intervention that provides students with individualized social, emotional, and sensory integration support to prepare them to thrive in general education classrooms. In partnership with the SFUSD Early Education Department, the SPARK Lab will analyze historical program data, survey participating families, and create reports summarizing key lessons learned and implications for practice and policy for those working to disrupt the preschool-to-prison pipeline within and beyond SFUSD. OCE funding will support the work of a research analyst, interviews and reports, and data cleaning.

Logo illustrating red high-top sneakers walking while tied together by shoestrings

Image credit: Courtesy of Shoestrings Program, SFUSD  

Ravenswood Reads tutor Bart Chu works with a first-grader during the 2022 summer program

Tutor Bart Chu of Palo Alto works with a rising first-grader during the 2022 summer session program of Ravenswood Reads. Image credit: Lisa Chung 

The Ravenswood Reads Research Practice Partnership

Community Collaborator: Ravenswood City School District, East Palo Alto; The Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula, San Mateo County

Stanford Leadership: Rebecca Deffes Silverman, Renee C. Scott, Rebecca Deutscher, Graduate School of Education 

Stanford Community Engagement Hub: The Language to Literacy Research Lab and Haas Center for Public Service

In the spring and summer of 2023, the Stanford GSE and the Haas Center for Public Service will work with the Ravenswood City School District and the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula to conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis focused on improving reading outcomes for students through after-school and summer tutoring and family engagement (e.g., through texting). Together, they will then work to co-design a project for 2023-2024 that could be used as a model for scaling up tutoring and family engagement programming across the sites of Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. Funding will be used to pay for staff support for managing the SWOT analysis and project design process.