I get excited about a lot of things that are happening at Grand Canyon University, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited as I am about the potential of our new partnership with CityServe.
CityServe is an amazing ministry that aligns perfectly with GCU’s mission and is having a significant impact on underserved people who are struggling. In just the past year, their collaborative network of faith-based partnerships has provided $420 million worth of household goods to families in need across the U.S., and we are thrilled to become the first university to serve as a distribution hub for CityServe.
Through a new 35,000-square-foot warehouse on campus, GCU will partner with CityServe to distribute thousands of household goods to families across Arizona. CityServe receives donations as well as surplus supplies from businesses such as Amazon, Costco, The Home Depot, Lowe’s and other large retailers. Items such as food, clothing, heaters, fans, blankets, mattresses, car seats, cribs, furniture – essential things that many of us take for granted – will be provided to families in need.
Those families will be identified by GCU’s network of partners such as schools, churches and social service organizations that will serve as points of distribution, or PODs, and connect the goods to those who need them most. We have already identified 40 PODs and expect to exceed 100 quickly once word gets out about this partnership. Our hope is that we quickly outgrow the 35,000-square-foot warehouse, which is a good problem to have because it means we are impacting more people.
We became involved with CityServe in December when the university began providing food boxes from Shamrock Farms to organizations in Phoenix through the Farmers to Families program. To date, more than 18,000 boxes of food have been distributed through GCU. That partnership will now be extended through the creation of the GCU hub and warehouse to distribute other types of goods to those needing assistance, which will be Phase 1 of the CityServe partnership.
Phase 2 is even more exciting.
Once we get to know some of the families we are helping, we want to go beyond providing food, clothing and household goods. Those things are extremely important because they provide much-needed relief and comfort, but we want to find ways to provide long-term assistance to those families and put them on a path toward prosperity.
To do that, all nine of our colleges are identifying ways they can create opportunities that incorporate project-oriented work with our students that becomes part of their curriculum. For example, our College of Nursing and Health Care Professions is exploring opportunities to host a health clinic to assist families. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is looking at opportunities to provide behavioral health and addiction counseling – something it is already doing through a partnership at nearby Alhambra High School, where our senior-level counseling students provide psychological support services and mentoring to high school students. Our College of Education is already providing tutoring opportunities for K-12 students in our community. And our Colangelo College of Business is identifying ways to assist families with basics of money management and to help those who own small businesses by advising them in areas such as accounting, marketing, creating a business plan or accessing capital. The Business College already does this through its New Business Development Center, which has helped 300 family businesses, and our work with CityServe will expand that even further.
A college education is not just about acquiring knowledge and the intellectual capacity in your chosen field. It’s about using that knowledge to make a difference in the world. CityServe is one more great opportunity for our students to combine their knowledge and their passion to serve others in ways that will have a transformational impact on our community.
Brian Mueller is president of Grand Canyon University.