The Consensus Organizing Center (COC) has been a project of San Diego State University’s School (SDSU) of Social Work since 1999. The COC’s longest running program is the Step Up Program, which provides high school junior students from a local high school an opportunity to experience college. The mission of the Step-Up Program is to engage, educate and empower underserved, inner-city high school juniors in order for them to achieve a post-secondary education and develop the practical skills needed to solve health and social problems in their low-income neighborhood. Our goal is to enable students to envision themselves as an important asset to their community by providing this experience at SDSU and encouraging students to apply their newly learned skills in their local community based organizations.
The students who participate in Step Up are recruited from Hoover High School, which is located in City Heights, an inner-city neighborhood about three miles from SDSU. Each new academic year, the COC interviews and selects a cohort of 25 students to enroll in a Social Work 120: Introduction to Social Work course at SDSU, for which students receive 3.0 general elective college credits. The curriculum material includes a range of social issues, such as access to health care, public education, governmental aid programs, cycle of poverty, unemployment, tolerance, family violence, and others. The course also includes 40 hours of community service that must be completed in a community based agency in City Heights such as medical clinics and various non-profit organizations. Students commit to working every week at these agencies, providing them with the opportunity to link their work in the community with what they learned in the classroom.
Since the Step Up Program’s inception in 2000, we have seen remarkable outcomes. Almost 400 youth have completed the program; approximately 98% graduated college, 93% have continued on to college, and they have collectively contributed almost 16,000 hours of volunteer work. Even more impressive, the Step Up Program will be starting its 19th cohort this month! The community service sites include: City Heights Community Development Corporation, Community Housing Works, College Avenue Baptist Church Preschool, and the Copley YMCA.
For more information about the Consensus Organizing Center or its programs, please contact Jennifer M. Cosio at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619 -594-3870.