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About Us

Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

The purpose of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) is to prepare educated, engaged students; to strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; to address critical societal issues; and to build partnerships of knowledge and resources with the public and private sectors to enrich and enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning, thus providing students with high impact practices that enhance their academic careers at UHD.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices (CDC, 1997, p9– published in CDC, Principles of Community Engagement Second Edition, 2011, p.3).

Service Learning

Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities (Learn and Serve America National Service Learning Clearinghouse). Service learning is a process of involving students in community service activities combined with facilitated means for applying the experience to their academic and personal development. It is a form of experiential education aimed at enhancing and enriching student learning in course material. When compared to other forms of experiential learning like internships and cooperative education, it is similar in that it is student-centered, hands-on and directly applicable to the curriculum.


Our vision is to build bridges to the community to create a more engaged campus, cultivate social responsibility, and develop a vibrant learning environment for UHD students.


CCESL's mission is to connect the university to the community by cultivating local and regional relationships with non-profit organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals, thus enhancing student learning, developing responsible citizenship, and serving the community.


  • To enhance the academic learning and intellectual growth of students by engaging in high impact instructional practices, career-related experiences and internships, and linking student interest and skill-sets with identified community needs and opportunities.
  • To strengthen students' civic values and moral character by embedding service learning in the curriculum, responding to community needs, and engaging in service to others through direct volunteer service, internships, and community development activities.
  • To improve the quality of the social environment of the community by engaging in programs that foster equity, as well as racial and ethnic diversity and harmony.
  • To increase the capacity of the community to provide solutions to community needs and challenges such as literacy, homelessness, child and adult maltreatment, and civic issues.
  • To build partnerships between UHD and Community organizations, public and private entities, and foundations for family and community strengths and empowerment.


Mailing Address:
University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)
One Main Street, OMB, S417
Houston, TX 77002

Office Hours:
Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

Associate Director:
Caroline Smith
Caroline Smith, MBA