At Los Angeles City Hall, staff, students and alumni of USC Dornsife’s Joint Educational Project (JEP) filled the council chambers. The mood was light and celebratory. But what they were celebrating was a serious 40-plus year endeavor.
All were there to take part in Councilman Paul Krekorian’s presentation of a resolution passed by the council formally honoring the work of JEP over the past four decades.
“It’s important to recognize this incredible 40 years of service that JEP has provided to the students of the university — and also to the entire L.A. community,” said Krekorian, who in 1981 earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in USC Dornsife. "JEP has contributed so much to changing the lives of young people.
This resolution sends a strong message more broadly about the importance of service and mentorship, and certainly of service-learning in academia.”
To date, JEP has placed in excess of 80,000 USC students in service-learning roles. More than 1,100 students volunteer each semester in 18 schools, 18 nonprofits and social services agencies, and 12 hospitals and clinics.
Among the nation’s oldest and largest service-learning programs, JEP is an international model. Founded in 1972, the organization was the first to implement America Reads with its USC ReadersPlus program in May 1997, ahead of the official campaign kickoff by the Clinton Administration. Time magazine’s recognition of USC as “College of the Year” in 2000 was largely attributed to JEP’s success.
What began as the USC Readers program added a “plus,” indicating math tutoring. Another program, JEP’s Trojan Health Volunteers (THV), gives pre-med students a chance to shadow doctors. Each academic year, approximately 160 student volunteers provide support at area clinics and hospitals assisting staff and shadowing doctors.
Krekorian was himself a participant in the JEP program as an undergraduate. He said the experience was enormously eye-opening and broadened his perspective on the world.
Tammara Anderson, executive director of JEP, who has been with JEP since 1981, accepted the resolution and spoke before the council during the May 3 meeting. She described some of the rich collaborations JEP has had with community partners over the decades, which have resulted in transformational experiences for students, helping them learn more about their own beliefs, talents or chosen career path.
Since its humble beginnings, JEP has grown immeasurably in strength and scope, she said.
“[This honor] is such a validation of all the hard work our staff has done over the years building successful partnerships between the university and community,” Anderson said. “JEP gives our students an opportunity to really live and observe all that they’re learning in their classes. It lets them actually take those theories and apply them to make a positive difference in the world.”