“The Community is Our Classroom”:  Our Commitment to Community Engagement

Through the community-engaged projects of Humanics@FresnoState, we align campus resources available to CBOs, including academic programs and seminars that prepare students and community members (including staff and board members of CBOs in the region) in the areas of administration and leadership.  California State University, Fresno is proud to be on the forefront of a national movement preparing individuals to meet the growing societal need for professionals who can help strengthen and lead community benefit organizations.

Humanics Students4Giving Philanthropy Project. The Humanics Philanthropy Project at Fresno State began in 2007 with an $8000 grant from Central Valley Community Foundation (formerly Fresno Regional Foundation) & flourished to become part of Students4Giving, a national initiative of Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund & Campus Compact, thanks to additional investments from The Whitney Foundation and donations in memory of Philip T. Manoogian.  As part of our course on “Philanthropy & Grant Making” (Sociology 183S) offered each spring semester, this project provides hands-on experiences in philanthropy & leadership by allowing students to develop contacts with community benefit organizations, assess community needs, and learn how to request & evaluate funding proposals.  More than 300 students have awarded $116,000 to 29 different organizations from 2007-2016.  Through the companion course, “Grant Writing & Evaluation” (Sociology 184S), our students also evaluate the impact of the grants they previously awarded & learn about the importance of good stewardship.

Grant Writing Projects allow students to help research and prepare grant proposals that, from 2006-2016, have involved more than 300 students and resulted in over $2.4 million to community benefit organizations in our region.

Humanics Internships allow for 300 hours of supervised internship with a nonprofit, community benefit organization. Each year, 20-30 Humanics scholars intern with at least 30 different community benefit organizations (CBOs) & contribute over 5,000 hours of service to the community.  Our alumni are the preferred source of entry-level professionals among our community partners.

Humanics Sustainable Partnerships Project. On September 1, 2009, the Humanics Program at California State University, Fresno was awarded a Learn and Serve America Higher Education grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service through California Campus Compact for a three-year program to implement aspects of the Sustainable Partnerships Project.  As part of the Social Innovation Generation: California Recovery and Renewal (SIG: CARE) initiative and with additional funding from the Central Valley Community Foundation, Humanics@FresnoState developed a two-semester course offering of “Governance, Administrative Principles, & Financial Literacy for Leaders of Community Benefit Organizations” (SOC 186S) and “Entrepreneurial Approaches to Sustainable Community Benefit Organizations” (SOC 187S).  This project fosters collaboration, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership by applying a team-centered, case-management approach to provide students with experience in nonprofit management consulting while working to enhance the capacity, governance and sustainability of San Joaquin Valley Community Benefit Organizations.

The Capacity Building & Technical Assistance component involves three phases of assisting 3-6 CBOs each year through Humanics Consulting Teams, comprising 3-4 Fresno State students, 1 university alumnus, and a professional coach. The teams conduct organizational assessments and submit feedback in a comprehensive report to the CBO, work with CBO staff and board members to identify priority areas and implement recommendations, and evaluate impact annually. The Capacity Building and Technical Assistance component is intended as a culminating community-engagement experience for Humanics students and is designed to enhance the capacity and long-term sustainability of CBOs to better fulfill their missions and meet the needs of the San Joaquin Valley.

Social Justice Advocacy Project: More than 280 students have worked with over a dozen CBOs since 2003, ultimately—through ongoing work by other community individuals and organizations—resulting in the establishment of organizations, like Faith In the Valley-Fresno (PICO) (formerly Faith In Community), and various campus policy changes and city ordinances regarding divestment from fossil fuel companies, anti-human trafficking, vacant blighted properties, and the Office of Independent Review (Police Auditor).