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In The Community

Center for Community Collaboration: A New Name, A New Outlook
by Valerie Orleans


From Dateline (February 19, 2003)

The Center for Community Collaboration, formerly known as the Center for Collaboration for Children, has a new mission...and a new name. While issues that affect children remain a priority for the center, additional focus will be placed on families and the elderly.

“When you’re working to enhance the lives of children, you’re really working with families as well,” said Michelle Berelowitz, center director.

The center’s mission is to assist children, families and communities through collaboration with public agencies and community-based organizations. Established in a partnership between the College of Human Development and Community Service and University Extended Education, the center works to provide service to the community through a variety of venues.

“We have three primary strategies,” Berelowitz explained. “Professional development, applied scholarship and research, and community capacity building.”

One example is a new program, CONECTATE (Spanish for “get connected”) that is designed to help 40 families with fourth-graders at Richmond Elementary School in Fullerton. The center, under a $250,000 Department of Health and Human Services grant, will provide an after-school program – including workshops and enrichment opportunities for children and their families.

“Our goal is to set up a family life center where we work with at-risk minority children, providing mentoring, social and emotional development activities, tutoring and physical education programs,” Berelowitz said. “In partnership with the Fullerton Unified School District, we want to help these children prepare for and be exposed to higher education.

“Children will attend Cal State Fullerton summer programs, such as the Titan sports and art camps,” Berelowitz said. “In addition, we also will be holding ‘family nights’ one day each week to work with parents, as well as children. Other events include monthly field trips to museums and galleries to provide enrichment experiences.”

Mikyong Kim-Goh, associate professor of human services, and Clay Sherman, assistant professor of kinesiology and health promotion, will assist with the CONECTATE program, providing leadership training, curriculum development and program evaluation.

CONECTATE’s goals are to assist in social development, cultural identity, academics, health, development of career goals, and family bonding.

To achieve those goals, the Center for Community Collaboration will be partnering with FACES, a counseling program; Campfire USA; National Compadres Network; and the Orange County Human Relations Council.

The center also is working in the area of professional development. Faculty and staff members are providing workshops and classes to help develop the skills of those working with children, as well as increase the number of degree and certified professionals serving in “helping” fields such as education, social services, health care, after-school programs and services for the elderly.

Center staff members have worked on projects for the Orangewood Foundation, a shelter and program to serve abused or neglected children, as well as local nonprofit agencies. Recently, a group of social welfare students from Japan visited campus to learn more about how social services are provided in the United States and how related subjects are taught on college campuses.

Through applied scholarship and research, the center hopes to support scholarship among faculty members who may be involved in various projects.

In addition, the center is working with government and nonprofit agencies to help develop more effective outreach services. Center staff members are involved in developing a needs assessment to identify the most pressing needs of San Gabriel Valley nonprofit organizations for training and program development.

The center recently published the 9th Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, which tracks children’s well-being in the areas of health, education, economic well-being and safety. Children’s Services Coordination and Children and Families commissions sponsor the report.

“Our new name says it all,” said Berelowitz. “It is by working in collaboration with other agencies that we’ll be most effective. By providing training, research and service to help these agencies, the Center for Community Collaboration and Cal State Fullerton help them achieve their goals, evaluate their effectiveness and provide an overall benefit to the families and communities.”

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