Community Engagement and Volunteering

Clark students out in the community

University Park Partnership (UPP)

A national model for neighborhood revitalization

There are no fences here. In the Main South neighborhood of Worcester, Mass., a university and a community have traded barriers for partnership and collaboration. Today the nation looks to Clark University and Worcester's Main South residents to learn how university/community partnerships can transform declining urban neighborhoods into vibrant communities.

The result of long-standing collaboration between Clark University and its surrounding community, UPP is a broad, grassroots partnership that involves neighborhood residents and organizations, local churches, government officials, the business community and public schools. These groups are organized around the Main South Community Development Corporation (CDC), the neighborhood's development organization and a key component of UPP.

UPP focuses on four major areas of urban redevelopment:

  • Housing and physical rehabilitation
  • Education
  • Economic development
  • And social and recreational activities for neighborhood residents

Clark has played a leadership role in the community since 1985 and has been a primary partner in UPP since 1995. The University's interest in UPP is rooted in its responsibility to the neighborhood it shares and also in its long-standing tradition of applying teaching and learning to real-world problems. For example, Clark students and faculty conduct research for UPP organizations, such as the Main South CDC. They teach in neighborhood schools and serve as mentors to the children of Main South. In addition, many Clark faculty and staff—including Clark's president—have become neighborhood residents.

Opportunities for civic engagement

For Clark, UPP also includes a fifth area focused on civic engagement—creating and supporting opportunities for faculty, students, staff and alumni to contribute their time and talents to the neighborhood. These learning and service activities reflect Clark's reputation for social activism. They also support the University's mission of teaching students civic responsibility and moral integrity.