The Center’s Volunteer Leadership Program gives undergraduate students an opportunity to work directly with the Center by planning and leading their own One Bus, One Cause community service projects in the Los Angeles community.
Project Leaders maintain important relationships between the university and their designated community partners while gaining valuable leadership and professional skills applicable to any career. Many projects serve as follow-up to the work done at the previous September’s Volunteer Day service sites.
In addition to working with staff from the Center, each team of two Project Leaders is matched with a Mentor. Mentors are experienced Project Leaders from previous Volunteer Day or One Bus, One Cause projects. Mentors provide guidance and instruction on best practices for leading volunteer projects.
The Volunteer Leadership Program is a year-long process, beginning with identifying the need of the community partner, progressing through multiple training workshops and the day of the project, and culminating with a Capstone Ceremony during which Project Leaders share what they have learned with interested community members. Project Leaders also participate in the evaluation process following the project, helping to inform future One Bus, One Cause planning.
From 2011-2014, the Volunteer Center teamed up with Alumni Affairs to give this opportunity to student members of the Alumni Scholars Club. Alumni Scholars are students selected by the Alumni Association to receive scholarships for their academic and service work at UCLA. Alumni Scholars must complete at least 30 service hours each year, as well as promote the strategic goals of their organization.
Project Leaders: Amanda Lopez & Trevor McCracken
Mentor: Colleen Bruton, Resident Program Administrator, UCLA Neurosurgery
Mark Twain Middle School in Venice/Mar Vista offers their students the opportunity to build an edible garden, orchard, and healthy food culture while at school. Mark Twain is a Title 1 school, where 84% of the students qualify for free or reduced cost lunch. The school provides healthy food experiences and promotes healthy minds and community through the enjoyment of food and nature. A garden-based curriculum is integrated into many different classes addressing environmental issues and the responsibility of caring for nature.
On Saturday, February 22nd, the Volunteer Leadership Program sent a busload of students, families and friends to Mark Twain Middle School for a gardening event. Participants had the opportunity to work on the school’s garden by planting new foliage or by removing old plants, or working on painting projects at the school.
Project Leaders: Caroline MacDonald & Tae Kim
Mentor: Joshua Witt: Environmental Health Program Manager, UCLA Office of Environment, Health and Safety
On Sunday, February 23rd, the Volunteer Leadership Program, a collaborative effort between the UCLA Volunteer Center and the Alumni Scholars Club, sent a busload of students, alumni, and staff to the Topanga Lookout in Calabasas for a restoration event.
Mountains Restoration Trust (MRT) representatives led students in lessons on ecology: describing plants native to the area, noting harmful invasive plant species, and detailing the impact of litter runoff on the fragile watershed ecosystem. MRT is a non-profit land trust that to preserves natural land in the Santa Monica Mountains through restoration, education and land acquisition.
Project Leaders: Angela Barba & Isabel Navarro
Mentor: Ryan Hamilton: Director, Academic Personnel, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
Griffin Elementary is located in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles. The school was built in the 1880′s and is the central point of the neighborhood. Griffin’s community dedicates itself to teaching their students three important values: to be respectful, responsible, and ready. The staff along with their principal works diligently to provide the students resources that will enhance their educational trajectory. Their Principal, Ricardo Romero says, “I believe that all children deserve an opportunity to be challenged and exposed to a rigorous curriculum. It is my expectation that students come to school eager to learn and teachers come ready to teach them.” We love what this school community is doing, and we are excited that we get to partner with them. Keep it up, Griffin Elementary!
On Saturday, March 22nd, the Volunteer Leadership Program sent 50 spirited UCLA students to prime and paint the bottom and front portions of the campus bungalows. They went from off-white to bright blue, and it has help brighten up the lively playground. This project was started at Volunteer Day 2013 with volunteers painting the doors and stairwells the same shade of blue, and this VLP project will help in the next stage of painting. The project is expected to be completed on Volunteer Day 2014, when the final group of volunteers paint the backsides of the bungalows.
Project Leaders: Ashen Parikh & Carolanne Link
Mentor: Ed Simon: Vice President – Systems, Management Applied Programming
UCLA Lab School, located in the heart of the UCLA campus, is an innovative school for children and a laboratory for teachers and researchers. The practices developed and refined here have an impact on K-12 education around the world. This elementary school is an integral part of UCLA, and what unites both campuses is the once majestic Stone Creek Canyon, which has now dissipated so only a small fragment is left. Volunteers helped restore the only remaining section of unburied creek on the UCLA campus in order to remind students of the shared past of both schools. Through the expert advice of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation (SMBRF), the local biodiversity and the integrity of the natural landscape has been maintained. SMBRF, which was established by state of California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is responsible for cleaning up waterways and creating green spaces and natural habitats in the Los Angeles region. Through these combined efforts, this projects aim was to impact the Lab School students’ lives by changing their understanding of the environment around them, bringing them closer to nature and having a different kind of beauty touch their lives. Our vision is a safe, aesthetic environment for students to learn and a cornerstone for the future UCLA Lab School and UCLA.
On Saturday, April 12, the Volunteer Leadership Program sent a dedicated bunch of volunteers to revitalize the creek that runs through UCLA and the UCLA Lab School. Participants will had the opportunity to enjoy a day outdoors preserving nature and continuing the efforts of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation, which has been maintaining the creek over the past several years. Many have seen the Creek’s potential impact on the students’ lives and its significance in UCLA history. This project was completed in collaboration with Lab School representatives.
Project Leaders: Jonathan Kaufman & Natalie Green
Mentor: Vito Costanzo: Partner, Holland & Knight
Magnolia Elementary School is a public school containing grades K-6, located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. 98% of students are Hispanic or Latino, and 100% participate in the Free or Reduced Lunch Program. 80% of students are English Learners. Despite the challenges Magnolia faces, their learning community is committed to providing a rigorous, standards-based, and well-rounded curriculum for students. They also provide extracurricular activities, including vocal music and chorus programs, an orchestra, and a mariachi program.
On April 26, a bus of excited volunteers hosted by the Volunteer Leadership Program will finish the work started at Magnolia Elementary School during UCLA Volunteer Day (learn more). Participants paint fences around the school, as well as paint a brightly filled-in stenciled map of the United States for the playground. Come help out and literally brighten the school of some incredible students!
Project Leaders: Adam Caparco & Erika Yoon
Mentor: Louis Tse: Ph.D. Candidate, UCLA Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
The Watts Towers are a historic site on a national, state, and local level. The towers are 17 individual sculptures constructed by an Italian immigrant (Simon Rodia) in the early 20th century. Since their conception, the towers have provided a focal point to south central Los Angeles. The community partner maintains the grounds of this historic site to ensure that visitors can understand more of the history of Los Angeles at a beautiful and artistic landmark.
During the project, volunteers will be immersed in a hands-on beautification project on the historic Watts Tower and rewarded with a personal tour providing the history and significance of the site. Volunteers will lay down soil, allowing the Watts Towers team to plant trees, flowers, and shrubs to improve the appeal of the site. Additionally, this volunteer service will lay the ground for Watts Towers’ staff and future volunteer groups to improve the aesthetic of the site.
Project Leaders: Jenny Choi & Ty Hopp
Mentor: Carolyn Buenaflor: Associate Director, Healthy Habits, Cedars-Sinai
John Burroughs Middle School is a public middle school in Hancock Park and serves the Hancock Park, Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire and Windsor Square section of Los Angeles as well as portions of Park La Brea, Brookside, and West Hollywood. The school serves about 2,300 students in grades 6-8 and is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
On Sunday, May 4th, the Volunteer Leadership Program is sending a busload of Bruin volunteers to John Burroughs Middle School to beautify empty school buildings with new murals. Participants will have the opportunity to assist in the painting of the murals and interact with students and community members.
Project Leaders: Jacob Vandel & Kelly Habib
Mentor: Mavis Wong: Graduate Student, UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
In honor of Memorial Day, the UCLA Volunteer Center and UCLA Alumni from the San Fernando Valley Bruin Network will come together for the second year to share some Bruin spirit and assemble care packages at Operation Gratitude. The Van Nuys-based nonprofit organization annually sends 100,000 care packages to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their children left behind, and to Wounded Warriors, Veterans and First Responders. The mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member’s face, and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Learn more about the Volunteer Center’s on-going commitment to Operation Gratitude at http://volunteer.ucla.edu/operation-gratitude/.
This service project will include production of the care packages, labeling, letter reading and writing, running packages, re-stocking the lines, breaking down cartons, and many other tasks. Breakfast and snacks are included. Volunteers are welcome to purchase their own lunch from one of the many food trucks that will be on-site, and they give a percentage back to Operation Gratitude.