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Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology

Answering the Call to Serve

The Urban Initiative (UI) is an umbrella program developed by GSEP to prepare a new generation of education and mental health professionals with the skills to work effectively in culturally diverse, underserved urban communities for the long-term.

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, 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 gives us the ability to design interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex urban problems in both the educational and mental health spheres.

"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; assistant professor of education; director of the Urban Parent Teacher Education Collaborative, Youth Empowerment and Research Seminar, and Riordan Extreme Leadership Program; and partnership coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District

"It is one thing to devote your energy and talents to training students to go off into ventures in the world to provide service. It is much more exciting to both work alongside with our students and train them at the same time. There is a synergy that happens when you are in the classroom providing background education while also working on the ground with your students to make a tangible difference."

- Dr. Aaron Aviera, director of the GSEP West Los Angeles Community Counseling Center and the Pepperdine Counseling Center at the Jerry Butler Union Rescue Mission