Partnership with the Stone Soup Project

March 23, 2015

With a handful of volunteers and a $50 budget, what was to become “”Stone Soup”” of Fresno, California, started in 1992 with a simple summer recreation program. The goal was to address the many serious problems which confronted the El Dorado Park neighborhood in Fresno, California. This two-block square area, less than 1 mile west of California State University, Fresno, is home to about 7,000 people, many from Southeast Asian refugee backgrounds. The residents of this area face a number of issues, including high unemployment and poverty, language barriers, illiteracy, gang and crime problems, and low academic performance.

Stone Soup is a collaborative of dozens of area churches, schools, government agencies and nonprofits, all with the goal of improving the lives of the residents of El Dorado Park. California State University, Fresno joined this partnership in 1993 and has become one of the major contributors to the program.

Now a formal nonprofit, Stone Soup offers a vast array of year-round services to the El Dorado Park residents. There are dozens of academic enrichment and recreation activities, job training programs, a senior service center, medical and dental clinics, nutrition and parenting classes, and a number of other projects.

Approximately 70 faculty and staff and over 300 students volunteer with Stone Soup each year. Faculty and students come from a variety of academic disciplines, including: Counseling, Social Work, Sociology, Child and Family Studies, Gerontology, Liberal Studies/Education, Health Science, Nutrition, Criminology, Theater Art/Drama, and many more. Students participate at Stone Soup as volunteers or through dozens of different service-learning and internship courses. There are also a large number of students who work at Stone Soup as part of the Federal Work Study program and through different scholarship and grant requirements. Everyone involved has had the opportunity to enrich their own lives and enhance their level of civic engagement.

The university has also assisted Stone Soup with financial support through grant funding, and we have acted as the fiscal agent for other grants obtained by the nonprofit. The partnership between Stone Soup, California State University, Fresno, and the other cooperating organizations and agencies is a model for highly effective and efficient nonprofit partnerships. The organization has had a significant impact on the area, as represented by the greatly diminished crime rates, improved academic achievement of the area youth, and the steadily improving socio-economic status of the neighborhood.

In recognition of their outstanding achievements, Stone Soup of Fresno and the partnering organizations have been honored with several prestigious awards, including: the Herman Goldstein POP Award, the Youth Citizenship Award, and the John Martin Fresno Area Reading Council Award. One of the most prestigious awards received by the Stone Soup project is the President s Service Award, conferred by President Clinton in 1995. In recognition of the university s contributions to the collaborative, Stone Soup gave the award to the University for housing and display.

The partnership between California State University, Fresno and Stone Soup has been one that greatly benefits everyone involved. Our faculty, staff and students have significantly increased their knowledge of, appreciation for, and involvement in the El Dorado Park neighborhood and the community at large. Stone Soup has benefited from the many resources, both human and otherwise, contributed by the University. First and foremost, however, the residents of El Dorado Park have seen a dramatic change in their neighborhood and their lives. This partnership with Stone Soup has helped provide residents with the opportunities and resources they need to improve and enrich their lives in many ways.

Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

California State University, Fresno - CA, California
President: JOHN D. WELTY
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