Joint Educational Programs, also known as JEP, celebrated 50 years of community service with a gala last Thursday. The Town and Gown event commemorated the success of the program and gave JEP volunteers, faculty and student workers the opportunity to come together and show their gratitude for the program’s mission.
What is the JEP?
Since 1972, JEP has linked USC students with local community organizations, such as schools and nonprofits, in downtown Los Angeles. In particular, students can tutor neighborhood children and develop lesson plans for elementary school students while volunteering and earning work-study or volunteer hours.
“We had so many people who had gone through JEP and are now doing great things in the world,” said Kathrin Rising, director of communications for JEP. “The program touches so many people and seeing everyone come together at this event was amazing.”
As a service-learning program for students and community members, JEP teaches lessons about mental and physical well-being. From Little Yoginis, a yoga program with local communities, to a series of lessons introducing conflict resolution and self-awareness, JEP shows subjects that students can learn beyond their studies.
The program also introduced the first federal work-study opportunity to recruit students to help improve math and reading skills for K-12 students. The ReadersPLUS math and literacy tutoring program recommends a wide variety of tutoring opportunities at local institutions like USC Hybrid High School near campus.
How can students become more involved in the JEP?
Currently, there are four basic programs for getting involved in the JEP. Students can serve elementary through high school students in a variety of subjects. JEP continues to expand its curriculum and discover topics such as science learning experiences and active listening lessons.
“My experience in this program reignited my passion for working with children,” said Sebastian Rodriguez, a sophomore in an oceanography course that offers additional credit opportunities through the JEP. Rodriguez volunteers as a tutor for elementary school students.
“[The kids] I absolutely adore the students…every time I walk into class they start smiling and get really excited. I think it’s really important for us as individuals to remember what it was like to be a kid and to create meaningful memories with them.
What is the next step for JEP?
After their 50th anniversary, JEP hopes to offer virtual service activities.
“The Joint Program continues to provide what is needed to match and mimic the environment we continue to serve – and that’s really the beauty of it.” said Sharon Blount, JEP office manager. She was part of the JEP community for five years.
“The opportunities we have provided over the past 40 years have changed…like moving from virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. JEP has continued to evolve into what today’s community needs,” Blount said.
One of JEP’s goals for the future is to offer tutoring and STEM learning services to all students in K12 schools, not just K-6.
“The program really tries its best to ask the community what they need and want in relation to the complex aspect of the savior, I’m going to give this to you because I can and I see the need”, said DJ Kast, Director of STEM Education Programs.