UNC Charlotte has co-developed an innovative partnership with Camino Community Center (Camino). Camino is located in University City two stops away From UNCC on the Blue Line Light Rail. It is a trusted resource providing comprehensive health and social services to over 20,000 low-income mostly Latinx immigrants annually. Dedicated in 2018, the CommUniversity was co-developed by Camino and ARCHES staff for combining the expertise and training needs of UNCC faculty and students with the programming and measurement needs of Camino. From 2016-2019, more that 70 students and faculty from five different colleges and ten different academic units provided programming and evaluation support at Camino.
Leveraging partnerships [like CommUniversity] has allowed the program to flourish, that’s what’s been going on over here for several years now that I have been involved with it, just to see how far it’s come, in my wildest dreams I would have never realized that it would have arrived at this level.” Gregory A. Phipps, District 4 Representative, Charlotte City Council
Mission and Goals
To be a best practice model of a community-campus partnership for improving the health and wellbeing of Latinx immigrant and other vulnerable population through service-learning and research.
- To create and support service-learning and research opportunities combining the training needs of UNC Charlotte students with the program needs of UCity Family Zone organizations.
- To co-develop and evaluate the success of programs combining the content area expertise and resources of UNC Charlotte faculty with the community expertise and program needs of UCity Family Zone organizations.
- To maintain a strong, vibrant, and significant learning, service, and research environment at Camino Community Center which meets the needs of Latinx immigrants through collaborative efforts among multiple UNC Charlotte academic units, colleges, and programs.
- To evaluate and measure the UNC contribution to improving quality of life outcomes for the vulnerable community residents served through Camino Community Center programs
Recent Activities and Projects
Health Risk Assessment
Through a grant from the BlueCross BlueShield Foundation of North Carolina, the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Services developed a health risk assessment program and established and staffed a weekly exercise program Camino patients.
Social Work Service Learning
Clinical assistant professor and co-director of CommUniversity, Roger Suclupe established a social work class called Social Work Practice with Latino Communities, which meets at Camino regularly. Students in class learn to bridge the gap between advocacy, outreach, and critical perspectives on social work policy in the community setting.
Behavioral Health Internships
Faculty from the College of Education (Department of Counseling), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Program in Health Psychology), and College of Health and Human Services (School of Social Work) developed the Tu No Estas Solo (You are not alone) mental health program staffed by UNCC students with faculty supervision. The program was highlighted for its unique best practices approach by National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.
The College of Education (Department of Counseling) established a play therapy program for working with children and families to improve communication and mental health
CommUniversity faculty and students have developed several health programs and contributed to writing successful grants to support the programs at Camino from the Foundation for the Carolinas, United Way, and Mecklenburg County.
The College of Arts and Architecture, Department of Dance offers a class titled Afro-Latin Dance to community members and students also provide community services at Camino Community Center
Student Leaders Community Training
Students in the Bonner Leaders Program receive hands-on community training and on average 3-6 students work at Camino 20 hours weekly providing support for health education, food services, interpretation services, supporting volunteers, and numerous other activities.
The program features current and planned contributions from five different UNC Charlotte colleges and Academic Affairs. Participating colleges include College of Health and Human Services, College of Computing and Informatics, College of Arts and Architecture, College of Education, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Individual units and program participants come from social work, kinesiology, counseling, languages, dance, computing, Bonner Leaders, public health, geography and health psychology.
Why is this important
The need for holistic, preventive, wellness social and health services among Mecklenburg County’s low-income residents, has far outpaced the availability of services. For example, although Latinos represent 15% of the County’s population, there is a severe shortage of bilingual mental health, physical health, and social service providers. As a result, Latinos suffer significant physical and mental health disparities and social inequities. Camino is the trusted source of routine mental and physical health care and health-related social services for Latinos in Charlotte-Mecklenburg – 97% clients are Latino; 100% uninsured; and 100% below 200% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL). And, the other UCity Family Zone organizations also serve a population comprised of low-income minorities, with multiple health and social needs.
Want To Get Involved?
- UNC Charlotte faculty and students and students interested in classes, training opportunities, service-learning experiences, and/or volunteering at Camino Community Center and other local organizations must complete a CommUniversity Volunteer Form available from the ARCHES CommUniversity Manager.
- Faculty and students must complete a required 2-hour orientation which includes a tour of Camino and a presentation of current programs and opportunities being sponsored at Camino and throughout the UCity Family Zone during the semester when they apply.
- All faculty and students are asked to assist the CommUniversity Manager with data gathering requests in order to maintain accurate measurements of the UNC Charlotte contribution to the needs of Camino, other community organizations, and community residents.
Students, staff, faculty, or any person affiliated with the UNC Charlotte interested in interning, conducting research, volunteering, or any other activity in the UCity Family Zone is asked to contact the Program Manager, Maria Diaz. CommUniversity orientation is held on a rolling basis and is required before directly becoming involved with the UCity Family Zone.
Mark DeHaven, PhD. Maria Diaz
ARCHES Director CommUniversity Program Manager