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Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology

Urban Initiative

urban initiative 2.0

"It is not only about having a presence in our academic community. It is about making a difference in our actual community, outside the walls of the classroom. Thus, the core of the Urban Initiative is not just to serve but to actually change the conditions that cause the need to serve." 

- Dr. Anthony Collatos; Associate Professor of Education;
Director of the Urban Parent Teacher Education Collaborative, and the Pat Lucas Center for Teacher Development.

The Urban Initiative of the Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) seeks to link community partners committed to understanding and addressing the mental health and educational issues of the underserved in Los Angeles and around the world. The aim of the Urban Initiative is to develop transformative solutions to social problems that have both a humanitarian value and are grounded in problem-oriented perspectives.

freedmen's bureau project

urban fellows

GSEP has a long tradition of engagement with its urban neighbors. For more than 50 years, we have been preparing teachers, administrators, and mental health workers for service in their communities. Building on that history of service, we developed the Urban Initiative to deepen the link between GSEP professional preparation programs, community partners, and the education and mental health needs of those in urban settings.

The unique structure of GSEP as a graduate school of both education and psychology affords the expertise in designing interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex urban problems in both the educational and mental health spheres. View our Initiative services, partners, and research opportunities.





Urban Initiative 2.0 Community Dinner

Dr. Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West

On January 23, 2020, the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology held an Urban Initiative 2.0 Community Dinner in Marina Del Rey recognizing Trailblazer Alumni Honorees who have worked tirelessly within their communities since the mid-1970s.

Renowned professor, author, philosopher, and activist Dr. Cornel West delivered an inspiring keynote address to the attendees from the various partners and supporters of the GSEP Urban Initiative in attendance. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who has a family history association with Pepperdine, presented Dean Helen Easterling Williams and GSEP with a commendation of congratulations for the celebration from the County of Los Angeles. The evening concluded with attendees joined in unison to recite a pledge affirming their commitment to the work of the GSEP Urban Initiative.

dean williams and janice hahn

GSEP Dean Helen Esterling Williams and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn

ui 2.0 group

Alumna Merelean Wilson, Chancellor Sara Jackson, Alumna Dessie Burns Kelly, Supervisor Janice Hahn, alumna Dr. Avery Ruth-Shaw, and alumnus Dr. Anthony Francisco

dean williams, president gash, dr. madjidi, merelean wilson

Merelean Wilson, Pepperdine President Jim Gash, GSEP Dean Helen Easterling Williams, and Dr. Farzin Madjidi.

Urban Initiative 2.0 Pledge

I pledge to take responsibility for the impact of my community engagement and to try to improve its condition through the Urban Initiative and any organizations with which I work or volunteer.

In the spirit of justice and love towards my neighbors and the broader society, I will bring the full reach of my time, talent, and treasure to the cause of transforming our shared community into a place where dignity, equity, and opportunity is afforded to all.

Take the Pledge, join the GSEP Urban Initiative 2.0 HERE