California Programs

UC Links programs take place at various localities throughout California. Programs are designed and operated by university faculty in collaboration with schools and community-based organizations.  

In 2022-23, 21 faculty at six University of California and four California State University campuses led the operation of 33 UC Links sites throughout the state. Faculty partnered with 27 schools and 8 community-based organizations to collaboratively sustain these programs, serving 4,075 P-12 students, 732 undergraduates, and 81 graduate students. 

UC Berkeley - 21st Century Community Learning Centers

A literacy program for Grade K-8 students at four private schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Activities involving digital and other multimedia communication tools assist children in learning a range of literacy-related practices, including digital storytelling, film production, and collaborative authoring. These activities help students develop and understand the nature of texts and their multiple and shifting audiences and purposes across varied contexts. We also attempt to leverage game-play, music, video, and performance (drama). PI: Professor Glynda Hull (Berkeley School of Education)

UC Berkeley - Berkeley Teacher Education Program Summer Site

BTEP Summer Site is an intern fieldwork experience co-designed with the Berkeley Unified School District Office of Extended Learning and the Bay Area Writing Project. The program serves the objectives of BUSD and BAWP’s K-12 summer programming and allows incoming student teachers to immerse themselves in various models of innovative and equity-committed summer school learning. The programs aim to 1) increase the number of African American and Latinx students enrolled in summer school; 2) provide meaningful, enjoyable, and worthy summer learning options. PIs: Thomas Philip & nives wetzel de cediel (Berkeley School of Education)

Image of Travis Bristol, graduate and undergraduate students at AERA conference

UC Berkeley - Teachers of Color Program

The Teachers of Color (TC) program seeks to understand how to re-imagine schools to support these educators’ success for students both in and out of the classroom. Undergraduates apply course material related to how teachers of color support students’ social and emotional development as well as academic learning by participating in PreK-12 in-school and after-school programs throughout Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Program activities explore literacy and social and emotional development. PI: Professor Travis J. Bristol (Berkeley School of Education)

UC Berkeley - Youth-Plan, Learn, Act Now! (Y-PLAN)

A civic action research initiative, Y-PLAN has engaged students at Aspire East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy in East Palo Alto, Skyline and Oakland Tech, McClymonds, and Oakland High Schools in Oakland, and Malcolm X Academy in San Francisco as well as thousands of young people and dozens of schools, teachers, and civic partners across the United States and around the world. Y-PLAN is an award-winning educational strategy that empowers young people to tackle real-world problems in their communities through project-based civic learning experiences. See a video of the Y-PLAN Youth Summit in action here. PI: Executive Director Deborah McKoy (Center for Cities & Schools)

UC Davis - Beta Lab Links

A maker program for students at Leataata Floyd Elementary School with undergraduates from UC Davis. Participants in the Beta Lab investigate the nature of learning that occurs during extended, youth-driven maker projects, and design learning environments and tools to support learning through making. A mobile maker studio expands access to underrepresented and underserved student populations. PI: Associate Professor Lee Martin (School of Education)

UC Irvine - Certificate in After School Education & Summer Education (CASE)

The CASE program prepares undergraduates to work with students in local afterschool & summer programs -- in College Park Elementary in the Newport-Mesa School District in Costa Mesa and community organizations such as Kidworks in the city of Santa Ana, Turtle Rock Community Park in the city of Irvine, Girls Inc. in the city of Costa Mesa, and Math CEO which is located on the UCI campus among others. PI: Co-Director of CASE, Professor Sandra Simpkins (School of Education)

UC Irvine - El Sol Conexión

Located in historic downtown Santa Ana, CA, El Sol Conexión is a gathering place for the whole community to engage in critical, creative conversations; to enjoy a range of cultural programs, workshops and events; and where teachers collaborate with scholars, artists and others in their field to fully integrate the expressive arts, art history and ethnic studies into the whole school curriculum. PI: Associate Professor Ana Rosas (Department of Chicano/Latino Studies)

UC Irvine - Math CEO

Math Community Educational Outreach (Math CEO) engages Latinx middle and high school students in Orange County and nearby communities with university faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students in weekly enrichment sessions focused on fun and challenging math problems. Activities are designed for students to gain both fluency and confidence in literacy and numeracy skills as well as familiarity with college. See a video of Math CEO in action here.
PIs: Associate Professors Alessandra Pantano & Li-Sheng Tseng (Department of Mathematics)

UC San Diego - Democracy Lab 2.0

A multimedia program at a community organization in San Diego for P-12 age students at the Town and Country Learning Center. Democracy Lab is focused on how to co-design experiences that put tangible, immediate practices for change in the hands of young people and families. PI: Associate Professor Angela Booker (Department of Communication)

UC San Diego - La Clase Mágica

La Clase Mágica (LCM), developed in collaboration with UC San Diego Professor Emerita Olga Vásquez and the St. Leo’s community, recently celebrated its 30 year anniversary. Today, LCM is forging a new partnership between La Colonia de Eden Gardens, Inc. and the UCSD Partners At Learning program. LCM engages elementary and middle school youth in a variety of opportunities that support youth engagement with academic and social development including robotics, art, literacy and well-being activities. See a video of La Clase Mágica in action here. PI: Assistant Professor Amy Bintliff (Education Department)

UC San Diego - Technology and Cultural Kumeyaay Literacy Education (TACKLE)

Technology and Cultural Kumeyaay Literacy Education (TACKLE) is a cultural and literacy program designed for Native American K-2 youth in a community center in Valley Center. PI: Professor Emeritus Olga Vásquez (Department of Communication) & Lorraine Orosco (San Pasqual Band of Indians)

UC Santa Barbara - Club Proteo & St. George Youth Makerspace

Club Proteo is an afterschool digital literacy program that brings UCSB undergraduate students together with elementary students at the Goleta Boys and Girls Club to create interest-based computer and video projects that the youth later present to peers at the Digital Story Festival during the final week of each quarter. The St. George Youth Center is a community organization for 6-12 grade students. Participants in UC Links activities create sophisticated projects in which they express themselves and their ideas using digital tools and murals. St. George Youth Makerspace activities blend art, STEM, and community activism. PIs: Professor Richard Durán and Professor Emerita Mary Betsy Brenner (Gevirtz Graduate School of Education)

UC Santa Barbara - LEAFY & Curie-osity

The LEAFY (Literacies for Environmental Awareness and Farming for Youth) program engages students in grades 5-7 who are members of the Goleta Boys and Girls Club in activities that include discussions, research and writing practices related to environmental science, poetry, social justice, and community engagement. The Curie-osity Project engages members of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara who are in grades 4-6 in activities designed to learn about and with women in STEM-related professions. Both LEAFY and Curie-osity programs involve weekly sessions located within the university context. PIs: Professor Diana J. Arya and Professor Emerita Mary Betsy Brenner (Gevirtz Graduate School of Education)

UC Santa Cruz - Corre la Voz

The Corre la Voz program seeks to understand how the use of intentional language, asset-based development, and culturally relevant, multi-modal literacy learning are related to individual thriving, relational power, and the capacity for justice in communities. We work in teams with 4th and 5th grade dual-language learners in interactive spaces of reading, drama, games, social research, and digital projects (photo-voice and movie-making). PIs: Faculty Director Leslie López (Oakes College Service Learning) & Cynthia Lewis (Education Department)


UC Santa Cruz - Alzamos La Voz: Raising our Voices

The "Alzamos La Voz: Raising our Voices" program works to create a community where youth and adults promote youth well-being by connecting young people to resources and opportunities to create positive community change and elevate youth voices in decision-making. PIs: Regina Langhout & Steven McKay.

Whittier College - Fifth Dimension & The Community Education-Program Initiative (CEPI)

The Fifth Dimension is a digital and literacy program for Grade K-6 students at a community organization and an elementary school in Whittier. At the Whittier Fifth Dimension, play and learning unfold through educational computer games, telecommunications tasks, and Internet investigations that require reading, writing, math-ematics, and logical problem solving. CEPI provides learning opportunities to build community and also serves as a parent liaison for the Fifth Dimension. PIs: Fifth Dimension Director Katherine Lazo & CEPI Director Stephanie Carmona (Center for Engagement with Communities)


CSU Dominguez Hills - Math CEO

The California State University Dominguez Hills Math Community Educational Outreach (Math CEO) program looks to increase access to high quality STEM afterschool programs for underrepresented youth in the Los Angeles and Compton Unified School Districts while acquaint CSUDH undergraduate students with experience in the design, development, and implementation of educational material mainly in mathematics for middle schoolers. PI: Cynthia Sanchez Tapia (Mathematics Department)

Y-PLAN San Jose

CSU San Jose - Y-PLAN

The Y-PLAN program in CSU San José Works with youth, educators and community partners to design curricula and create learning environments that put youth voices at the center and support them to become informed, empowered and ethical advocates for their communities. The program begins with students' lived experiences and ask how they can develop the digital literacies needed to learn about, discuss, and work to address the problems we face as a society. PIs: Ellen Middaugh (Department of Child and Adolescent Development), and Mark Felton (Department of Teacher Education)

CalPoly Nuestra Ciencia

CalPoly - Nuestra Ciencia

Nuestra Ciencia (NC) is a university-community partnership where Cal Poly college students teach microbiology concepts in Spanish to bilingual elementary students. We designed the program to address microbiology misconceptions and promote science literacy for K-6 students. Additionally, we aim to elevate undergraduates as STEM role models for Latinx children and connect parents and the broader community in learning science in Spanish. Interdisciplinary teams of undergraduates develop experiments and educational resources, and visit classrooms to lead activities in Spanish. PIs: Jasmine Nation (Liberal Studies Department), and Alejandra Yep (Biological Sciences Department) 

CSU Sacramento YPAR

CSU Sacramento - Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

The Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) After School Program promotes critical literacy, civic engagement, community-connection, and stewardship of neighborhood resources in the context of gentrification. Critical literacy is promoted as the key to empowerment, community participation, and liberatory education. The program aims to develop children’s functional skills (reading the written word and symbols, writing and image generation, multimedia creation, oral and visual presentation, and critical thinking), identities as learners, community-minded critical thinkers, and change agents, and place attachment and community connections. PI: Erin Ellison (Psychology Department)

Programs Outside of California

Colorado, United States - Learning to Transform (LiTT) Video Gaming Lab

The LiTT (Learning To Transform) Video Gaming Lab is a seed project that forges a connection between CU Boulder and the Youth Empowerment Broadcasting Organization (YEBO). YEBO is a community-based organization in Denver that operates within and beyond classrooms to support youth in leveraging media and media production for the development of critical civic practices. The partnership involves the intentional design of a learning environment that aims to facilitate collaboration between high school students from Montbello, CU Boulder undergraduates, in-service teachers, and community members. Specifically, the high school students (who are served by YEBO) and undergraduates will be enrolled in the CU Boulder courses. Their work in classes will include partnering with in-service teachers to develop lesson plans and curricula that leverage video game based technologies and learning.

Utah, United States - DCBI + the South Franklin Community Center

A participatory research-based partnership between undergraduates at Brigham Young University and community partners at the South Franklin Community Center (SFCC) in Provo, Utah. While helping to facilitate reading programs, computer literacy programs, dance and music classes, and other community-building activities for low-income children and adults at the SFCC, our undergraduates apply principles of ethnographic research and participant observation to help the center solve problems and increase their effectiveness as a community resource.

Germany - University of Augsburg - 5D-Augsburg

Augsburg, Germany, is located in the southern part of Germany, not far from Munich. Our community partners In Augsburg are the Montessori School without Racism & The International School Augsburg. We explore film & music video production as a language learning tools and emphasize teamwork and creativity. My ‘Media and Learning Communities/Medien & Lerngemeinschaften’ seminar at the University of Augsburg enables ‘American Studies’ & ‘Erasmus+’ students to team up with local 11-16 year old youth in planning, filming, editing, and celebrating short films & music videos.

Japan - Power of Diversity for Linguistically Culturally Diverse Children

We are conducting theoretical and practical research on transnational Japanese descent children with roots in other countries living in Japan and children with roots in Japan living abroad in the U.S., Canada, Thailand, and Korea. We aim to design learning environments that make their potentiality, especially aesthetic literacy, visible. To achieve this goal, we conduct outreach workshops focusing on arts-based activities such as theatrical performances with scenario writing, digital brochure-making, poetry writing, and plastic arts activities. The research headquarters is located at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, and researchers from other universities are involved in the project.

Spain - The Shere Rom Project

The Shere Rom Project, inspired by the Fifth Dimension, began in 1998 in the premises of a gypsy association in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, with the participation of students of the degree in Psychology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Since then, the project has been developed in various spaces such as schools, institutes, civic centers, gypsy associations and libraries. During the current academic year, the project is carried out in a single space, the El Til·ler institute-school, in the city of Barcelona, where 18 undergraduate, 4 postgraduate and 3 doctoral students from the UAB collaborate along the year with about 100 children and adolescents between 10 and 16 years in digital story telling tasks and others inspired by the knowledge and identity funds.

Uganda - Africa Education & Leadership Initiative

Africa Education & Leadership Initiative is a Nongovernmental Organisation in Uganda that is empowering refugee girls through education, leadership and emotional development. Established in 2006, Africa ELI was a result of the South Sudanese Diaspora and their American friends responding to the monumental scope and seriousness of South Sudan’s social challenges. Africa ELI was founded to ensure that secondary school students in South Sudan, especially females, have access to quality education and do not drop out of school due to inability to pay tuition fees, pregnancies, early marriages, shortage of school supplies, cultural issues, and risks associated with traveling between home and school. 

Uruguay - Modelo 5D Uruguay

The Fifth Dimension (5D) Model is a collaborative work proposal that promotes the creation of a community of practice. It is a flexible and participatory model that allows the description and analysis of child interaction, behavior, learning and development. It is flexible because it allows its adaptability to the conditions of the specific context where it is developed. Participatory because it includes and is developed through the involvement of the community where it is carried out.