Welcome to our JEP 50th Anniversary online hub – on this page you will find highlights, stories, videos, and more about JEP’s birthday celebrations. Please explore this page connect with us for any questions, ideas, or feedback!
The USC Joint Educational Project
In collaboration with campus and community partners, the Joint Educational Project develops service-learning activities for USC students that address community-defined needs, complement coursework, and encourage critical reflection on contemporary social issues.
For nearly 50 years, the USC Joint Educational Project (JEP) has provided community-based learning opportunities for undergraduate USC students that benefit neighborhood schools, clinics and non-profit organizations. As one of the oldest and largest service-learning programs in the United States, JEP has been a leader in defining high-impact practices for students, faculty and community partners.
We strive to achieve our mission by consistently doing the following in our work:
- Engaging students in meaningful, responsible and challenging service-learning assignments designed to meet educational goals and community-defined objectives.
- Preparing students for learning through service by providing training, supervision, scaffolding, feedback, recognition, and resources.
- Providing structured opportunities for students to critically reflect on their service-learning experiences.
- Establishing long-term, reliable and responsive partnerships with community partners and faculty that work to address ever-evolving needs and mutually beneficial goals.
- Designing all service and learning activities with equity and social justice in mind.
The First 50 Years: JEP’s Core Programs
JEP is a “full-service” service-learning and community engagement (SLCE) program. We design service-learning assignments and curricula to complement USC coursework and offer training opportunities for students to explore a wide range of academic disciplines through experiential learning. The majority of JEP students serve in K-12 schools yet hundreds of students every year work with community-based organizations, health centers, legal clinics and shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness.
JEP uses a unique peer education model to serve the 2000+ USC students who enroll in our programs annually. JEP “Program Assistants” recruit, train, facilitate, evaluate, and otherwise support the students who serve our community partner organizations. They also work with USC faculty and liaise with the organizations that host our JEP students. Since 1972, approximately 1500 Program Assistants have guided nearly 100,000 JEP students through our service-learning programs—which include Trojan Health Volunteers, Understanding Homelessness through Service and Pre-Law Project—making the Joint Educational Project not only the premiere SLCE program on campus, but one of the most influential student leadership development opportunities at USC, as well.
ReadersPLUS Math and Literacy Tutoring
JEP’s ReadersPLUS program reaches a major milestone in 2022, as well, celebrating its 25th anniversary. Since 1997, the program has embedded highly-trained math and reading tutors in seven elementary schools. It was the first program of its kind in the nation, which uses federal work-study funds to enlist college students in the effort to improve K12 children’s math and reading skills. It uses a student-centered approach at all levels of the program, with graduate and undergraduate student leaders supporting undergraduate tutors and the elementary school children they serve.
STEM Education Outreach
JEP’s STEM Education Outreach programs address a growing science achievement gap in elementary education. Offerings include the Young Scientists Program, which places paid undergraduate STEM majors in classrooms to teach inquiry-based, standards-aligned science lessons in 2nd -5th grade classrooms. The Medical STEM Program operates in a similar fashion, focusing on topics related to the medical field and teaching second graders. WonderKids is an after-school program for elementary school-aged children that incorporates fun, hands-on science activities led by undergraduate students and scientists from academia, industry and non-profit organizations. The STEM Education Outreach programs value diversity and make a concerted effort to involve women and people of color as instructors and guest speakers. The programs provide role models that help children to see themselves as future scientists; they also provide training and a pipeline for future STEM educators for the college students who work for the program.
JEP operates two programs focused on socioemotional learning and the promotion of physical and mental well-being. Our Little Yoginis program places trained USC yoga instructors in elementary school classrooms and after-school programs to teach yoga and mindfulness through a children’s literature-infused curriculum. The Peace Project is a collaboration with Sola Community Peace Center that uses a train-the-trainer model to teach 2nd and 3rd graders a range of socioemotional skills, such as conflict resolution, self-awareness and listening skills, through fun activities and games. Parents notice improvement in their children’s ability to cope with stress, and the USC student-instructors report that they benefit from teaching the lessons, as well.
The Next 50 Years
As our 50th anniversary approaches, we are reflecting on our history as an organization, considering the current state of the SLCE field and our place within it, and defining our goals for the next 50 years. We seek to sustain the core programs that have been so transformative for thousands of USC students and community members, while building on our successes to serve an even wider range of constituents.
In order to increase our impact within USC and its communities, as well as to retain our role as a pacesetter in the SLCE field, JEP seeks to expand our offerings in the following areas: core programs, research and evaluation, graduate education and global programming.
Transformative gifts in support of JEP’s core programs will allow us to build on our strengths and increase access to our programs in the following ways:
- Expanding our paid SLCE offerings, such as student-worker positions, internships, scholarships and service-learning opportunities.
- Building on the lessons of COVID-19, developing virtual service activities and engaging an even larger group of participants, including USC alumni and friends of JEP.
- Recruiting non-work-study students to serve as reading and math tutors in JEP’s ReadersPLUS program.
- Growing our STEM Education Outreach programs to serve more grades in more schools.
- Expanding our socioemotional learning programs to reach more children in additional grades, classrooms, and after-school contexts.
Research and Evaluation
Service-Learning and Community Engagement has evolved from an interdisciplinary pedagogical approach to a full-fledged field of inquiry. Scholars examine the impact of SLCE on students and communities and explore key theoretical questions about social justice, learning and epistemology and the civic mission of higher education. As one of the oldest and largest SLCE programs in the United States, JEP has amassed an extensive data set, much of which has yet to be mined. A research center housed at JEP would extend our leadership in the SLCE scholarly community by allowing us to do the following:
- Hire a full-time evaluator to measure the impact of JEP programs (on and off campus) and support a larger research agenda.
- Establish one or more post-doctoral fellowships to provide training in SLCE pedagogy and practice.
- Create Research Assistantships for PhD and EdD students to support dissertations using JEP data.
- Award stipends to USC faculty to support community-engaged research.
- Mentor undergraduate-researchers and establish an award for engaged research at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.
- Provide more extensive support for faculty seeking ways to address the “Broader Impacts” of their federally-funded scientific research.
As with most SLCE programs in the United States, historically JEP has been an undergraduate-serving organization, with the vast majority of students participating in JEP through undergraduate courses. In recent years, however, more graduate students have approached JEP in search of engagement opportunities, ranging from volunteer service activities to community-based research opportunities to training in SLCE pedagogy and practice. We recently conducted an informal survey of USC graduate students and found that nearly 70% of those polled were keenly interested in getting involved in such activities – particularly in community-serving activities that offered opportunities for personal and professional development. Graduate students are an untapped resource for our local communities and JEP is primed to develop an infrastructure that offers training and financial support for graduate students interested in service-learning and community engagement. Our graduate initiative could support graduate students in the following ways:
- Creating a graduate degree program for students who wish to pursue a career in the field of service-learning and community engagement.
- Developing workshops and seminars—which could lead to a certificate in SLCE—to supplement graduate students’ primary disciplinary programs with training in SLCE pedagogy and practice.
- Institutionalizing JEP’s “Graduate Engaged Scholars” pilot program, which provides grants to graduate students to support their engaged scholarship while also expanding opportunities for engaged graduate education at USC.
- Offering Teaching Assistantships for graduate students to work with JEP staff to support the academic wing of the organization.
Service-learning and study-abroad each offer students meaningful—even life-changing—experiences while in college. Global SLCE integrates the best of both practices by offering an immersive experience in another country that incorporates ethical and community-centered opportunities for service and learning. Global SLCE can help students to develop language fluency, cultural sensitivity and global citizenship skills that are critically important for addressing the challenges affecting our increasingly interconnected world. A fully funded global SLCE initiative would include the following practices:
- Providing scholarships for students to study and serve abroad.
- Hosting international students in Los Angeles-based SLCE programs.
- Partnering with universities and NGOs around the world.
- Integrating global perspectives into all of our programs, regardless of location.
50 Stories for 50 Years
Thank You So Much to our 50th Anniversary Gala Sponsors:
Jeff and Amanda Ge
Scott Lee and Karen Wong
USC Office of the Provost
Shannon Strasser Gottesmann and Greg Gottesmann
Rod and Elise Nakamoto
Wendy H. Wu
LA’s BEST Afterschool Enrichment Program
USC Credit Union
USC University Relations
USC Educational Partnerships
USC Dornsife Office of Experiential and Applied Learning
USC Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative
The Rightway Foundation
Paromita and Souvik Das
Annabella H. Lai
Deena and Mitchell Lew
The Mika Family
Meg and Randy Palisoc
USC Dornsife Writing Program
USC Alumni Association
USC Office of Research
In addition to our official Gala Sponsors, JEP wishes to thank the following donors for their generous support of our programs:
John Nathan Andell
Frances and Timothy Carey
Paromita and Souvik Das
Kevin Genda and Karen Yarasavage
Nigest Getahun-Hawkins and Ronnie Hawkins
Hyundai Motor America
Christopher and Sarah Kim
Henry Martin Lederman
Kara Elizabeth Nieto
Hope Nakamura and Glen Sato
The Seaver Institute
Cheryl and David Thomas
Cindy and Michael Winn
Jonathan R. Woetzel