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Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology


The Urban Initiative is an umbrella program developed by GSEP to establish a national model for preparing education and mental health professionals to work effectively in underserved urban communities. The Urban Initiative's goals are to develop a new generation of education and mental health professionals with the skills and will to work in culturally and ethnically diverse urban settings for the long-term, as well as impact future legislation affecting education and mental health services.

"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."

- Dr. Margaret Weber, dean of GSEP

"The unique structure of GSEP as a graduate school of both education and psychology provides us the ability to design interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex urban problems in both the educational and mental health spheres. With that goal in mind, the Urban Initiative will continue to build knowledge, inspire service, and create change in Los Angeles, and hopefully one day nationwide."

- Dr. Rhonda Brinkley-Kennedy, director of the Urban Initiative

"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, director of the Youth Empowerment and Research Seminar, and partnership coordinator for 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, as a faculty member and as a department, 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, clinical faculty, director of the GSEP West Los Angeles Community Counseling Center, and clinic director of the Pepperdine Union Rescue Mission Clinic