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October 31, 2007 – University Neighborhood Partners (UNP) will celebrate its fifth anniversary on Thursday, November 1, 2007 with a dinner for founding donors and current partners at Red Butte Garden. Vice President for University Relations and UNP Board of Advisors co-chair Fred Esplin will welcome the 150 guests as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. UNP founding director Irene Fisher will announce the creation of the UNP Pathfinder Scholarship Fund, which is slated to provide tuition and fee assistance to west Salt Lake youth and adults pursuing pre-college exposure to higher education through classes, field trips, institutes and other educational programs beginning in 2008.

UNP is “community building at its finest,” Esplin said. He noted UNP’s unique ability to match “the University’s research, teaching, and public services missions with the self-identified needs of Salt Lake’s west side communities.” Private support is essential to this process, he added. UNP Development Officer Gina Alvarez said she envisions the night as an opportunity to thank the sponsors and donors who have helped UNP initiate and sustain partnerships that achieve UNP’s mission of developing reciprocal relationships while creating pathways to higher education.

The program includes a welcoming social hour, with entertainment provided by Mariachi America. The dinner portion of the evening includes a brief overview of the past five years by Dr. Rosemarie Hunter, UNP director, who will highlight the role of campus and community partnerships in developing several now nationally-known partnership programs. UNP Board of Advisors co-chair Joyce Valdez will introduce the premiere of the first UNP video documenting UNP’s partnership work. Fisher will introduce the Pathfinder Scholarship initiative. Senior Vice President for Health Sciences A. Lorris Betz will provide closing remarks.

“This is an important moment to recognize how the whole Salt Lake community-university, residents, community organizations, donors, government, and other-are coming together to find ways to strengthen relationships among themselves and to increase everyone’s opportunity to go on to higher education, if they choose to,” Said Sara Munro, UNP associate director.

Because one of UNP’s major goals is to support youth from west Salt Lake neighborhoods to view higher education as an option for their own lives, the Pathfinder Scholarship has been created to enable pre-college youth-sometimes as young as kindergarteners-to engage in on-campus activities, explained Fisher.

“I envision children from Parkview, from Mountain View, from Riley, from Northwest and other schools graduating from college and returning to these neighborhoods as engineers, as pharmacists, as teachers, as parents and as citizens to enrich the neighborhoods and broader community for all of us,” Fisher said.

“I remember hearing an early UNP Pathfinder comment that west Salt Lake neighborhoods will define the future of our shared community, because of the diversity of families, the energy of newcomers, the varied cultural perspectives,” she added, highlighting the significance of the scholarship name. For Fisher, the most important accomplishment since that early vision five years ago “has been growing roots and building collaborative partnerships in west Salt Lake neighborhoods. Strong working networks and genuine friendships have been built, marking UNP as a vital cog in sustaining the links necessary for that promise to be fulfilled and securing a foundation to move forward toward that goal.”

Pathfinder Scholarships will support youth who live in west Salt Lake neighborhoods to attend youth classes and programs on the University of Utah campus and at other institutions of higher education. Those experiences provide increased opportunity and access to higher education and enable youth to find educational paths that will support their future and develop a college-going culture.  

UNP bridges Utah’s flagship university with seven ethnically and culturally rich neighborhoods west of State Street in mutually-beneficial ways for both west side residents and the University of Utah community.

In 2001, former President of the University of Utah, J. Bernard Machen, determined that the University of Utah could play a critical and successful role in helping to support youth growing up in west Salt Lake City.  Using the resources of the University, Machen envisioned a program that would not only help the youth in these communities to reach their potential and achieve a college education, but University services could support the community, its families and build a bridge that would begin to show the University as a partner and friend in community building.

Fisher was appointed as a Special Assistant to the President for Campus-Community Partnerships and was asked to help define and implement a program that would include community representatives in all phase of the planning and final program implementation. Following a year of meeting with community leaders and families within the west side community, the University Neighborhood Partners program was launched.  The program places the highest priority on needs-assessment by west side community members, allowing those self-identified issues to shape each collaboration.  The program continues to change and evolve as new opportunities and needs are identified.

Under current U of U President Michael K. Young, UNP remains one of the university’s top priority programs.  Hunter entered the position of Director of UNP on July 1, 2006.