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Community Partners

UNST is uniquely connected to our local, national, and international communities. Our faculty and students form mutually beneficial relationships and work on community projects with various community partners across all levels of our program.

Read on to learn more about becoming an agent of social change, sustainability in action, and the incredible impact of our community partners on the larger world around us.

Capstone Student works with K-12 students

Martin Luther King Jr. School

Martin Luther King Jr. School is a K-8 international baccalaureate school in the ֱPublic School District located in NE Portland. Their mission is as follows:

At Martin Luther King, Jr. School, we believe in the unlimited potential of everyone in our diverse community. We believe that a caring well-balanced student will be motivated to become a global citizen who is inspired to take action.

History/Involvement/Impact as a UNST Partner

ֱState University has partnered with Martin Luther King Jr. School for over 10 years, first through the Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone and now in partnership through the Social Justice in K-12 Education Capstone. In the early years of partnership, students partnered with the administration and teachers to work in middle school language arts and math classrooms and to host and organize family night events. In its current iteration, the partnership has evolved into (a) year-long work toward a sustainable field trip fund and (b) in-classroom work supporting 4th-grade students.

MLK Jr. School is a Title I school located in the historically rich and recently renamed “Alberta Arts” district. MLK Jr. School is a school that is generationally strong despite the neighborhood shifting due to gentrification. Capstone student volunteers learn about community resilience and classroom teaching as they also learn about and work toward greater equity in the school experience of all students.

In order to provide equitable opportunities for field trip learning, PSU Capstone students are working toward a sustainable model of support for a field trip fund that teachers can access to relieve the financial strain of families and the school and to ensure rich learning for all students.

In addition, PSU Capstone students have the opportunity to work with 4th graders in their classroom and to support their teacher by working with daily skill-based groups where volunteers work with students on phonics, math review, etc. Elementary students come with a wide range of abilities, and one way to catch up is to have a small group, more focused attention on the review of ֱational skills. While the teacher can teach a large group of grade-level standards, volunteers can work with kids in small groups.

Mrs. McCarthy, the primary community partner for this Capstone course, describes one recent student as very energetic and eager to play with the kids at recess. Because of this active engagement, she establishes a relationship with the 4th-grade students, and they respect her as a mentor. They are eager to work with her and do well alongside her. Another recent student, a native Spanish speaker, connects with the 4th graders who are also native Spanish speakers; it is empowering for the students to see an adult mentor in the classroom who can communicate with them in Spanish, and there is empowerment in their back and forth. It is a common bond, a unifier.

By inviting ֱState University students into the classroom to see a real-world educational setting, they can take off an idealist lense and see education with all of its triumphs and tragedies at the same time to really understand what’s involved.