Community Partnership Innovation Fund

University of San Francisco's faculty, staff, students and community partners are invited to apply for Engage San Francisco's Community Partnership Innovation Fund (CPIF) of up to $5,000. There must be at least one USF-affiliated applicant and one applicant from an organization providing services in the Western Addition. Funds will support teams in completing a well-defined project that supports the achievement of a community-identified need, while deepening their partnership through an intentional and collaborative process.

Applications for the 2019 - 2020 CPIF cycle are now open and can be accessed here. For questions, please reach out to Nolizwe Nondabula, Associate Director of Programs and Partnerships, at


  • Cultivate and deepen transformational partnerships. 
  • Work to achieve measurable community-identified outcomes in the Western Addition.
  • Participate in thoughtful, intentional and on-going critical engagement that moves from a conception of service as charity to a notion of service as social justice. 
  • Incorporate best practices in campus-community engagement. 


  • Teams will embrace an asset-based model of university and community partnership that is grounded in authentic relationships.
  • Teams will support the provision of wraparound services for children and families in the Western Addition.
  • Teams will elevate mutually enriching relationships through long-term commitments and resource sharing. 


Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Well-defined project or research product that responds to a community-identified need.
  • Incorporation of the values of Engage San Francisco. 
  • Prior community engagement experience. 
  • Viability of timeline and plan for sustainability.
  • Quality and clarity of the project description.
  • Detailed list of activities supporting the project proposal.
  • Reasonably detailed budget.

Three teams will be selected in late October and will have a full year to complete their project. The application process includes:

  • Completion of the online application with a letter of recommendation from the Western Addition partner.
  • A project budget outlining anticipated costs and any in-kind contributions or source of income that will inform the sustainability of the project.  

Application Deadline: Friday, November 1, 2019

More Information
Nolizwe Nondabula, Associate Director of Engage San Francisco
415-422-4241 or

2015 Grant Recipients

Xóchitl Justice Books: A University of San Francisco/ Prince Hall Community Partnership

Nicola McClung, Faculty, School of Education
Arturo Cortez, Adjunct Faculty School of Education
Elaine Barry, Adjunct Faculty and Graduate Student, School of Education
Miriam Desmukes, Director, Prince Hall Computer Learning Center, Western Addition

Xóchitl Justice Press creates diverse and educationally sound, nonfiction children’s books to support the intellectual, affective, aesthetic, and social development of the whole child. Our press promotes a just and equitable society through publishing, community partnerships, education, and research. The current grant supports the on-going partnership between Xóchitl Justice Press (USF faculty and doctoral students), the USF Special Education Master’s/Credential Program, and the Prince Hall Computer Learning Center.  Funding will support the creation and publication (editing, design, and translation) of student-authored books;  funding for one USF student and one Prince Hall community member to monitor and establish the educational and pedagogical relevance of the books from the first draft, through the design process, and to the final publication of each book; and distribution of books to the authors and Prince Hall.

The Power of Poetry: We Are All Poets and Up On Top Arts Education Program

Virginia Barrett, We Are All Poets
Silena Layne and Nyree Monroe, Up On Top

Poetry not only empowers students to believe more fully in their ability to express themselves, it also builds crucial literacy skills often not addressed in school curricula. When encouraged from a young age to use language in inventive ways, youth develop stronger writing skills which are needed to communicate in a clear and truthful manner. USF MFA in Writing student Virginia Barrett (co-founder of We Are All Poets—youth poetry and civics engagement program) will partner with Up On Top to provide a ten week arts education program in poetry to underserved youth in the Western Addition enrolled in Up On Top’s free after school program. In addition, the program will create an arts education internship and community service project for USF English and/ or Education majors. USF students will have the opportunity to work directly with the children served by Up On Top in the poetry workshops offered in the after school program and to be mentored by Virginia Barrett and other professional teaching artists from We Are All Poets. The collaboration between We Are All Poets and Up On Top will, as well, focus on poetry workshops which encourage youth to explore their community and family heritage, thereby fostering a deeper understanding of themselves. Up On Top is located at the Unitarian Universalist Church in the Western Addition.  

Cultivating Food and Community in Western Addition’s New Liberation Community Garden

Bella Neterval, USF student
Kelly Ernst Friedman, Director of Programs, Community Grows
David Silver, USF professor

The Western Addition’s identity has been repeatedly transformed in the last 50 years, first through official urban redevelopment strategies and more recently through market-driven gentrification. Amidst this state of change and displacement, the garden will help to root the community and provide an infrastructure for community resilience. This project, led by undergraduate students of the USF Environmental Studies program, focuses on the New Liberation Community Garden as a space for nurturing community development through youth empowerment and community engagement. In a neighborhood where safe outdoor spaces are limited, there is a severe need for community gathering space available to everyone regardless of race, class or creed.  The New Liberation Community Garden has the potential to serve as such a space, cultivating community health and food security. Located on the corner of Divisadero and Eddy, a geographically and sociologically significant location, this corner of the Western Addition represents a bulkhead against the wave of gentrification driving displacement and change.  Retaining a connection to the Western Addition’s history–its churches and public spaces–the literal and figurative crossroad of the garden represents an ideal location for restoring and rebuilding community through youth education, mobilization and empowerment.

Building Capacity and Preventing Summer Learning Loss

Helen Maniates, USF School of Education
Jerry Trotter, Booker T. Community Center

Booker T. Washington Community Center and the USF School of Education Master of Arts in Teaching Reading/ Reading Certificate Program have an ongoing collaboration focused on literacy. This grant will expand the capacity of Booker T. Washington Community Center to provide literacy education and tutoring to Western Addition youth during June and July 2015, thereby preventing summer learning loss and allowing for the incorporation of literacy programming beyond summer.

Law Enforcement, Race and Justice: Healing and Working Circles

Rhonda Magee, USF School of Law

Marisa Rodriguez, San Francisco District Attorney’s office and USF Alumna

Beginning in late May 2015,  healing and working circles will take place at USF and off campus, providing an open community forum to identify appropriate responses to bias in law enforcement and the broader community.  The healing and working circles will strengthen the voices for justice in our city-wide community and identify next steps toward policy-based transformation, healing and justice.


  1. What is the criteria for applying as a team?  

    • A team must consist of one Western Addition community partner and one USF-affiliated partner.

  2. Does the Western Addition community partner and the USF-affiliated partner collaborating apply together or separately? 

    • The Western Addition community partner and USF-affiliated partner collaborating must apply together to submit one application.

  3. What defines a Western Addition area organization?

    • Any number of organizations or public entities that serve the Western Addition meet this definition. For example, community partners may be a government agency, community or nonprofit organization, school or an affiliate of a local membership organization. Because the Western Addition does not align directly with zip codes, nor does it align directly with City Supervisorial Districts. The boundaries of the Western Addition for the purposes of the Engage San Francisco Initiative are informed by those identified by the Western Addition Service Provider Cohort as described in their 2011 report:  
      -Van Ness Avenue on the East end of the neighborhood (about the Civic Center)
      -Baker Street on the West end of the neighborhood (one block from USF)
      -Sutter Street on the North Side of the neighborhood (about Pacific Heights neighborhood)
      -Fulton Street on the South side of the neighborhood (about Haight neighborhood)

  4. Can USF students apply for this funding?

    • Yes, USF students can apply for this funding. However, students applying must have a faculty advisor supporting them with this project in addition to a community partner.

  5. Will every team that apply receive funding?

    • No, only 3 team projects will receive funding for up to $5,000.

  6. We received funding from past CPIF and community engagement cycles. Can we apply again? 

    • Yes. Teams who have received funding must have successfully completed their project and submitted their year end report.

  7. We applied for funding previously, but did not receive one. Can we apply again? 

    • Yes.

  8. What should be included in the community partner’s letter of recommendation? 

    • A letter of recommendation shows that the community partner believes a project is needed and worthwhile and that the partner is willing to be actively involved in its implementation. Therefore, the letter should verify the community-identified need, verify that there will be a mutually-beneficial exchange with USF, define the partner’s role(s) in the project and explain the expected benefit to the organization’s stakeholders.
A letter of commitment should address specific types of commitment such as expert staff, space, equipment, food, or access to a population. It should also be on letterhead, signed, and dated.

  9. What is the funding period?

The funding period will be from January 2020 to December 2020. All activities must be completed within 12 months of the receipt of funding.

  10. When will we be notified on whether or not we received funding?

    • Team applicants will be notified via e-mail if their proposal was or was not selected to receive funding in November.

  11. I have more questions. Will there be information sessions about this funding opportunity?

    • Information sessions are held weekly on Tuesdays from 11:30am - 1pm at the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and Common Good. If you're unable to attend the information sessions, please don't hesitate to reach out to  Nolizwe Nondabula at or at 415-422-4241 for 1:1 consultation.