Anchored in Community

Children at Bayside/Thrive groundbreaking


Throughout much of the Linda Vista community, the 180-acre USD campus can be seen from virtually any vantage point. Whether it be one of five monument signs greeting motorists from all directions: “Welcome to Linda Vista. Home of the University of San Diego,” or Toreros banners hanging high above Linda Vista Road, the town-gown relationship is evident.

Far less visible is the intangible work USD is doing as it works across and with the community to engage in deep, democratic and meaningful partnerships with a shared vision and collaborative effort: the anchor institution approach.

President James T. Harris III, DEd, is a founding member of the Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF), a growing network of leaders promoting the engagement of anchor institutions including colleges, universities, hospitals, community foundations, libraries, arts institutions, and other anchors in community and economic development.

The AITF was formed in 2009 by Dr. Ira Harkavy, associate vice president and director of the Netter Center for Community Partnership at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. David Maurrasse, founder and president of MARGA Inc., a consulting firm providing strategic advisory services and research to philanthropic initiatives and community partnerships. Today the AITF has more than 700 leader members.

At the behest of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Harkavy and Maurrasse convened a meeting with a core group of individuals: leaders of higher education and medical institutions who were at the forefront of town-gown partnerships. President Harris, an early adopter of AITF’s work, became one of the co-authors of the task force’s report, Anchor Institutions as Partners in Building Successful Communities and Local Economies.

On a sunny Friday morning in June 2017, Linda Vista community members joined local elected officials and members of the USD community for a unique celebration at the Bayside Community Center. Bayside is a Linda Vista landmark that has been empowering the community’s diverse residents to improve their quality of life through services, education and advocacy for more than 50 years.

“The partnership with Thrive Public School ensures Bayside will not only continue to serve the community, but opens the door for Bayside to lead Linda Vista’s transformation from one of the region’s most challenged communities to one of the region’s thriving communities that celebrates its residents’ diverse cultures,” said Chris Nayve, USD’s associate vice president for community engagement and the director of the Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action.

“The area surrounding the Bayside Community Center is reportedly one of the six most distressed blocks in San Diego, with under-resourced housing and educational facilities,” said Nicole Assisi, PhD, ’04, CEO of Thrive Public Schools. “By purchasing the Bayside property and building our Thrive Linda Vista K–8 campus here, we will effectively address the educational inequity that exists in this community.”

“Supporting the Bayside and Thrive partnership is an excellent example of what it means for USD to be an anchor institution,” explains Nayve.

“For more than 25 years, USD has led curricular and co-curricular partnerships throughout Linda Vista. Students and faculty have engaged in meaningful projects with community partners, including the area’s public and private schools, as well as community-based nonprofits such as Bayside. As we look ahead to USD’s future, we want to deepen and strengthen USD’s collective impact by aligning campus with community-identified goals and priorities.”

When it opens in August 2018, the new Thrive site, the fourth Thrive public school campus in San Diego, will serve 500 K-8 grade students, with the goal of setting the standard for preparing a diverse student population to become community-minded, college-prepared and career-inspired. — Pamela Gray Payton ’16 (MSEL)

Photo credit: Navi Photography. Video courtesy of Thrive; produced by Video Approach.


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