Because of University Neighborhood Partners (UNP), Almaida Yanagui believes in fairy tales. “I’ve always felt like Cinderella,” Yanagui says. “Education was my carriage to a brighter future and University Neighborhood Partners has been the ball where everything changed.”
Nearly two decades ago, when Yanagui needed resources to support her daughter, she found UNP. She attended a course about parental rights in the education system and learned how to advocate for her children. Through UNP, Yanagui found the confidence to earn her GED and attend college. This led to her working at UNP as the Ed Pathways Partnership manager/community organizer.
As UNP celebrates two decades of collaboration on Salt Lake County’s west side, stories like Yanagui’s are the heart of the partnership’s accomplishments. UNP began in 2001 to increase access to the U for west side residents and build a reciprocal relationship between both communities. Since then, multiple resident committees have been created, partnerships have grown, and the UNP work has expanded into West Valley City.
The UNP network and the Hartland Partnership Center provide resources such as English language instruction, mental health support, citizenship classes, employment workshops, after-school and summer programs and more. Scholarships to the U and other Utah colleges and universities are also available through UNP. Notably, many of the partnership’s staff began their careers at UNP after benefiting from these very resources.
“There is a strong network of university students, faculty and staff, community organizations, and residents on the west side of Salt Lake City that have created an ecosystem of belonging and opportunity,” says Kimberly Schmit, UNP’s director of community praxis. “Pieces of that ecosystem were always there. When members of the community allowed us to learn and grow with them, what emerged is an even deeper culture of opportunity for all involved.”
Because of this culture of opportunity, UNP has witnessed these resources impact multiple generations of families, both on the west side and at the U, adds Schmit. “There are families where I knew the mom, then I knew her son, and now I see his children,” she remarks. “It’s three generations that UNP has had the privilege of engaging with and learning from.”
Learn more about UNP's community partners here:
Hartland Community 4 Youth and Families (HC4YF) is a community development organization that partners with public, non-profit and for-profit organizations to address the needs of Salt Lake County’s underserved, at-risk and underrepresented population, including people who have refugee and immigrant backgrounds or identify as Latino/a. We are an organization aware of our diversity and its needs. We serve the underserved, promoting education with responsibility, respect, compassion and self-discipline through sports, thus creating opportunities and involvement for youth and families.
The Hartland Resident Committee is made up of local resident leaders in the Glendale neighborhood who are committed to enhancing the community in which they live. The resident committee serves as a liaison and advocate for bringing the UNP Hartland Partnership Center and the community into partnership. Members of the resident committee also serves as advocates by talking with residents regarding their strengths, resources, and needs. They also help to identify means and partnerships for ensuring that classes are culturally appropriate and in line with the community’s mission along with regularly attending partnership and steering committee meetings to help guide UNP’s mission.
Latino Behavioral Health Services (LBHS) began in 2011 by community residents with nothing more than a passion to serve their community. LBHS was founded in 2013 and received nonprofit status in 2015. We have grown with the support of strong partners such as Utah Supports Advocates for Recovery Awareness (USARA), The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Utah, the Utah Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), University Neighborhood Partners (UNP)/The University of Utah, the Salt Lake School District, and others. We currently serve over 600 Latinos annually. Their work has been recognized through numerous awards including The Pete Suazo Award for Social Justice (2013) and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the YWCA for the mentorship of women (2014).
MAA: The Mestizo Arts & Activism Collective is an intergenerational social justice think tank in Salt Lake City, Utah. We are of diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds. We come together because we are concerned about the community, we live in. We are student leaders, poets, researchers, mentors, artists, musicians, dancers, faculty, and community organizers who work collaboratively to make changes in our community and engage in the arts. We use our research and personal experiences as a way of promoting social justice to make our voices heard. We are inspired and motivated to create positive change by understanding and addressing the issues our communities face daily. Our goal is to make a difference and make the world a better place for everyone to live in by developing young leaders, creating unity within our community, informing the world about issues young people of color face and finding creative ways to solve them.
UCAN: The Utah Community Advocate Network grew out of work supported by University Neighborhood Partners over the years with parents and families at school sites in west side neighborhoods. Community Advocates work in collaboration with teachers, administrators, and other partners for the improvement of schools on the west side.
Westside Community United is a group of resident leaders, from teenagers to elders, representing diverse groups and organizations across West Valley City. These leaders are working to identify goals for their community and center community voice in all partnership areas. Founding members are already very active in the community, including some who lead grassroots organizations such as Comunidad Materna en Utah and Healthy West Valley.
The Westside Leadership Institute (WLI) is a powerful partnership between UNP and NeighborWorks Salt Lake, aimed at empowering and supporting the residents of Salt Lake City's west side. This collaboration enables west side residents to grow professionally and create positive change in their lives and communities.
WLI is dedicated to nurturing emerging community leaders, entrepreneurs, and partners by providing them with essential support in developing goods, services, programs, and place-based projects that benefit their communities. Graduates of WLI gain the confidence to become active leaders in community building, driving positive change, and increasing civic engagement. The program achieves this by focusing on the development of professional skills, project planning, and networking opportunities, paving the way for individual and community growth.
Amira Kherrallah, PreventHer
Giovannis Gianonni, MESA
Norma Carver, Oaxaca en Utah
Nancy Drozdek, Breathe 4 Trees
Susi Malohifoou, PIK2AR
Youth Voices is a Youth Participatory-Based Research program hosted at the UNP Hartland Partnership Center. Started in 2016, Youth Voices was developed to increase educational opportunities for young people on the Southwest side of Salt Lake County. To fulfill this goal, Youth Voices engages youth through art, research, and prosocial activities. Youth Voices places young people’s expertise at the center of knowledge production in a space (the University) often perceived as unwelcoming to minoritized populations. In partnership with faculty and staff from multiple departments at the University of Utah, in the pursuit of this work has also emerged what we’re calling Hartland Scholars. Hartland Scholars is an early-college credit program, centering on the youth, values, and experiences of the community we work with while challenging the expectations and barriers that exist in other early admissions programs.