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JEP: The Vision

Imagine an urban university that contributes to the well being of its community while offering students an opportunity to learn about issues of poverty, immigration, education, inequality and other contemporary concerns.

It is this vision that Dr. Barbara Seaver Gardner, of the University of Southern California, had in 1972 when she created the Joint Educational Project (JEP). Today the JEP Center for Service Learning is recognized as one of "the oldest and best organized" (TIME Magazine and the Princeton Review, 2000) service-learning institutions in the country.Barbara Seaver Gardner

Through the years, over 70,000 USC students have contributed over a million hours of service to the surrounding community. At the same time, these students have carried away a better understanding of an academic discipline and have had an opportunity to work and learn with people of other cultures.

The JEP Center for Service Learning stands as a monument to the notion that universities and their communities can work together toward goals that are mutually beneficial.



More than a decade before the term was invented, JEP was routinely placing students from academic courses in community service placements as a way of extending their academic learning.


In 1974, long before mentoring was a political agenda for presidents and governors, JEP students were working one-on-one with neighborhood children through our PALS program. JEP received its first mentoring grant in 1989.

Two years before the Los Angeles Police Department began their D.A.R.E. program, JEP launched its Choices Drug Education program with support from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation.

In 1991, JEP converted an adult literacy program designed by a USC undergraduate to a program for young readers. Bill Clinton has adopted this preventative approach in his "America Reads" initiative that emphasizes tutorial assistance for children.


Since its inception in 1972, some 70,000 undergraduates have partnered with community schools and service agencies to provide service while enhancing their academic learning.

Each semester, JEP partners with 45-50 university professors to design and offer students the opportunity to apply and test theories within the context of the community.

JEP works with over two dozen community sites, most of which have been partners for over 25 years. Together, we place an average of 850 university students in community placements in just over six hours.

Recognized as one of the "oldest and best organized" Service-Learning programs in the country (TIME Magazine and the Princeton Review, 2000), JEP prides itself on an excellent record of service to the university and the community.