College of San Francisco Project SHINE

Name of Community College City College of San Francisco

Title of Program Project SHINE

Type of Program This is a student service-learning program that incorporates citizenship/civics preparation and acquisition of ESL and literacy skills.

Primary Division(s) or Department(s) involved: Office of Mentoring and Service Learning

Key Partners

 San Francisco State University, Center for Intergenerational Learning at Temple University, and some community-based organizations. The CBO with the longest affiliation is the Chinese Newcomer Center.

1.  Need for Program

 Many immigrants and refugees seeking citizenship need assistance in understanding the processes involved and preparing for the citizenship exam. In addition, many are struggling to acquire the necessary literacy and English skills to take the test and successfully integrate into society. The program, initiated in 1997 as a partnership with SFSU, addresses two major needs of the immigrant population served: 1) it helps immigrants and refugees navigate the complex path to U.S. citizenship, and 2) it helps this population achieve literacy and English language proficiency.

The program also benefits the student coaches who assist these immigrants, since the experience improves their skills and provides the basis of a service-learning project incorporated into their class work.

2.  Brief Description of Program

Project Shine is part of a national service-learning initiative that builds partnerships among community colleges, universities, and community-based organizations to benefit immigrants, refugees, and college students. Currently about 150-200 CCSF and SFSU students (both immigrant and native Americans) serve as volunteer coaches each semester in about 90 noncredit ESL, Citizenship, and Literacy classes. Additionally, teachers in credit classes from numerous departments offer Project Shine as a service-learning option for their students. Among the participating credit classes: Health & Aging, Asian-American Studies, Political Science, Spanish, and Counseling classes.

Volunteer coaches help prepare immigrant adults (both young adults in their 20s and 30s and older adults) take the Immigration and Naturalization Service citizenship test, and they also assist immigrants in learning English— both as assistants to teachers in the noncredit classes and on a one-to-one basis outside of the classroom. The service learning option is fully integrated into the volunteer coaches’ course work and classroom experiences.

3.  Specific Population Served

 As noted, Project SHINE serves immigrant young adults and elders, and also benefits community college students, including both immigrant and U.S. born students.

4.  Goals and Objectives

 For the immigrants served, goals and objectives include:

  1. Prepare for S. citizenship test—Student coaches familiarize immigrants with the various procedures involved in applying for citizenship and in teaching the U.S. history and civics needed to pass the citizenship exam.
  2. Improve literacy and English skills—Student coaches work with immigrants on a one-to-one basis, and also serve as assistants to teachers in ESL and other
  3. Integrate into society—Through their coaching services, English language assistance in the classroom, and friendships with immigrants, volunteer coaches are helping immigrants become actively engaged in their

For the student coaches involved, goals and objectives include:

  1. Enrich student learning—Students are developing critical listening, interviewing, speaking, and writing skills as part of their service learning And for those immigrant students who participate as coaches, it provides an additional opportunity to strengthen their English language skills.
  2. Develop leadership skills—The Project Shine Leadership Program, which began in 2004, cultivates experienced volunteer coaches as mentors to the new, incoming student

5.   Outcomes

A key indicator of success is the growing popularity of the program among faculty: Each semester the demand for coaches grows as instructors see the impact of the energy and commitment these bright idealistic coaches have on the immigrants served. The program started out in 1997 with 14 volunteer coaches in just a few ESL and Citizenship classes, while today, as noted, about 150-200 volunteer coaches per semester serve in about 90 classes. Eight out of the 12 CCSF campuses participate in the Project Shine program. Currently, there are more requests from faculty than coaches available to serve.

Program outcomes have been tracked since 2000, when Project SHINE became institutionalized at CCSF. Fall 2000-Fall 2010 numbers include:

  • Total number of coaches: 3,378
  • Total number of ESL, Citizenship, and Literacy immigrant and/or refugee students who received help in classes with SHINE coaches: approximately 43,860
  • Total number of noncredit ESL, Citizenship, Literacy Teachers receiving coaches: approximately 975
  • Total number of credit teachers from numerous departments offering Project SHINE as a service-learning option for their students: approximately 275
  • Total number of noncredit ESL, Citizenship, and Literacy classes with coaches: approximately 1,460
  • Total number of SHINE Leaders since the program began in Fall 2004: 238

Each year, at the end of the program, a special awards ceremony is held to recognize the volunteer coaches and participating teachers. Participants share and reflect on their experiences. In several cases, volunteer coaches note how participation in the program has changed their attitudes. While some coaches may have initially viewed the service learning assignment, which is optional, solely as a way to get extra credit, once they become engaged in the project, they understand the value of their work and how it is helping immigrants integrate into society. Their motivation increases and student retention has improved.

6.   Collaboration

The nature of collaboration has changed since the program started. Initially, CCSF and SFSU collaborated in all aspects: program administration, training of coaches, and running the awards ceremony. In 2000, the program became “institutionalized” at CCSF and housed under its current CCSF department. Each school handles certain administrative and other program activities separately. CCSF and SFSU are now striving towards more collaboration. Currently there are joint leadership meetings and plans for a joint reflection and awards ceremony. The CCSF and SFSU coaches intermix sometimes in the ESL classrooms because many classes have more than one coach per class. The 50 SFSU students who participate add tremendous value to the program. Since they are Master’s-level students studying to be ESL instructors, they bring skill sets and experience that complement the skills of CCSF students. Both schools have also had a long-time alliance with the Chinese Newcomer Center, where coaches assist in various ways to help new immigrants.

CCSF Project SHINE is affiliated under the national SHINE Consortium, which has ties with Temple University.

7.   Success Factors

The support and involvement of the faculty has been instrumental. Developing meaningful service learning projects involves a considerable amount of time, administrative work, and classroom preparation. Teachers have been highly collaborative, sharing their experiences with one another on an informal basis and coming together at  the end of the year in helping to plan and implement the awards ceremony.

The Leadership Program is also a key component contributing to success and sustainability of the program. Not only do they serve as mentors to new coaches, they provide further assistance to teachers in the classroom and help with fundraising and other events. As volunteer coaches transfer to 4-year colleges, the Leadership Program helps to replenish a source of qualified new coaches to meet the growing demand from faculty.

8.   Challenges Faced and Overcome

The biggest challenge is one of resources—At CCSF, Project SHINE staff is limited to an ESL faculty member who also serves as the program coordinator. In recognition of this additional responsibility, the faculty member is granted 60% release time to run the program. At SFSU, due to funding cuts, volunteers run the program.

This constraint in resources makes it difficult to recruit and train new coaches in order to keep up with increasing demand. New recruits have to be interviewed, trained, and placed. Another current challenge is expanding the Leadership Program in order to assure an adequate supply of student leaders equipped to assist in recruitment and mentoring of new coaches.

9.   Funding and Sustainability

 The program was funded through outside grants in the late 1990s. Currently, the program is supported by CCSF, with funds coming from the Office of Mentoring and Student Service. The Office and the CCSF Foundation are also seeking additional support from outside funders that have an interest in this initiative.

10.  Contact Information:

Denise Maduli-Williams
Program Coordinator, Project Shine
ph. 415-239-3405