Community Engagement Projects

PRIME-US Community Engagement Projects


Go to the people.
Live with them.
Learn from them.
Love them.

Start with what they know.
Build with what they have.
But with the best of leaders,
When the work is done,
the task accomplished,
The people will say,

'We have done this ourselves.'

-Lao Tzu


Through community-based project work, PRIME-US students will: learn about strategies for working directly with underserved communities; provide direct service to these communities; and acquire skills to assist in project development, implementation and evaluation.  Skills include community assessment, cultural humility, partnering with community organizations, advocacy and leadership.  These projects are supported in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation.


PRIME-US Community Engagement Projects 2015-16

Olivia Park, Jolene Kokroko

Olivia and Jolene developed a project with one of PRIME-US’s longstanding community partners, Youth Creating Change (YCC).  YCC is a youth development program for high school students coming from vulnerable communities in San Francisco.  The program focuses on engaging the youth in dialogue about the social determinates of health in their communities.  The project goals were developed in collaboration with the youth participants.  They focused on a series of health-related workshops which the students identified as key areas of interest, and the PRIME-US students delivered the content. This included reading assignments, small group discussion, and guest speakers.  Once the students identified a health topic, they researched it, and then shared their personal experience and understanding of the topic.  The final project culminated in a Photovoice project through which young people explored health disparities in their own neighborhoods in San Francisco.  The photo exhibit was showcased in a community art gallery and at UCSF’s Multicultural Resource Center.  See:


Simon Chu

Simon worked with The Suitcase clinic, a network of five UC Berkeley student-run free clinics in Berkeley, CA.  The clients represent a diverse community of individuals, many of whom are homeless, uninsured, and/or living with complex health needs.  This project is a pilot initiative designed to create a new robust communications and referral program between the Suitcase Clinic’s and Lifelong Medical Care, a community health center.  The goal is to offer direct support to Suitcase Clinic clients wanting to access comprehensive primary care services.  The medical students teamed up with undergraduate volunteers and Ameri-Corp members to offer clients of the Suitcase Clinic caseworkers to encourage making and keeping appointments at Lifelong. They are also conducting a needs assessment of clients to identify barriers to comprehensive and consistent access to primary care.


Jolene Kokroko

Jolene partnered with one of PRIME-US’s community partners, Huckleberry Youth Wellness Academy (YWA). The Wellness Academy is a health pipeline program designed to mentor and support underrepresented youth in the health field to succeed in college and to consider a career in the health field.  Jolene brought their high school age participants to UCSF to hear from a panel of medical students, offered an anatomy lesson of the lungs, and offered a campus tour.  The goal was to expose them to university and offer a glimpse of a medical student’s educational experience.


Adrienne Kennedy

Adrienne also partnered with Huckleberry Youth Wellness Academy (YWA) to design a tutoring program for high school students interested in health professions careers.  Adrienne arranged for a group of medical students to tutor the high school students after school.


New Latthivongskorn, Miguel Linares

New and Miguel developed an evening seminar open to the entire UCSF community to share information about the experience of undocumented students and the effects of being undocumented on health and healthcare access.  The evening included members of a local immigrant rights advocacy program that shared current policy reform efforts, a UCSF researcher and a panel of current undocumented students. The goal was to inform future health care professionals of the barriers to health and the advocacy efforts taking place to address access to quality health care for this underserved community. 


Yakira Teitel

Yakira developed a project with La Clinica Martin Barro, a student-run free clinic.  The clinic’s patients are primarily uninsured, day laborers, monolingual Spanish speaking, and immigrants. The project, currently in production, is using art as a medium to engage the clinic’s participants and community members to discuss health in their community.  They created a model community mural to tell the stories of Latino immigrants who live and work in San Francisco’s Mission District.  By telling their stories through imagery in a public space, the mural aims to shine a light on issues affecting Latino immigrants including health disparities, while also celebrating triumphs, resilience and humanity. (The painting is currently in progress and can be seen on the side of the restaurant, La Palma: Mexicatessan, on the corner of Florida and 24th Streets.)


Angel Rosario, Gabriel Gutierrez

Angel and Gabriel lead a project with youth from the San Francisco Youth Coalition.  These youth come from diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco and are primarily from disadvantaged backgrounds.  The goals of the project are to engage young people in health-related activities, increase health literacy and awareness of health topics prevalent in their own communities.  Topics have included violence prevention, environmental health, mental health, and food insecurity.  The students have developed health-related workshops and delivered it college students at Stanford who work with youth. They have also participated in producing health conscious community art.



Fresno - Outreach Pipeline Program

Each year, our 1st year PRIME-US students participate in UCSF Fresno Latino Center for Medical Education and Research (LaCMER) Doctor’s and Junior Doctors Academy annual prehealth conference.  The Doctor’s and Junior Doctors Academy are programs based in both middle and high school campuses in Fresno.  The mission of these programs is : To nurture the development of future doctors and allied health professionals who can deliver culturally sensitive and appropriate health services to the ethnically diverse population of Fresno County, through a supportive and academically rigorous educational program for middle school and high school students from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds.  Each year they hold a large conference that encourages the students and parents to consider careers in the health field.  Last year (during the grant period in 2/15), students co-taught health education workshops.  This year (2/16) our PRIME-US students developed an interactive anatomy lesson covering the lung.  The workshop was designed for middle schoolers and their parents.  The students also offered their advice and shared their experiences with higher education with high school parents.  Their final session was to mentor a group of Fresno State HCOP students.  They answer questions about their paths to medical school and why they chose medicine. 


Food Access in Bayview-Hunters Point

This year, PRIME-US MS1’s participated in a service learning project in collaboration with UCSF’s Clinical Translational Science Institute’s Community Engagement and Health Policy Program. The project looked at food access in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood.  The students worked with a community-based organization, Southeast Food Access program, and assisted in the development of a survey looking at dietary trends and needs of the community.  After drafting questions, the students piloted the survey and disseminated it at a community health center.  The participants were given food vouchers for their participation.  The vouchers are part of a program that offers community member incentives for purchasing fresh produce at local markets and community farmers markets.


The Time is Now

The PRIME-JMP MS1 and MS2 students partnered with The Queer Trans Network of Alameda County.  The students participated in the– LGBTQI Youth Summit – A Time is Now - Thriving Not Surviving.  The students worked with the coordinators and youth leaders of the QT Network to develop a self-care workshop and presented it at the summit.  They also developed a health resource guide for adolescent youth.  The conference theme was geared to the health of Queer/Trans adolescents in Alameda County. 


Final Year Capstone Students:

Each year, our final year Capstone students do community engaged projects with community partners in San Francisco who have identified a valuable project need that PRIME-US students could fulfill.  Students are required to provide oral presentations and written reports to their community partners and to the PRIME-US program.  The abstracts are listed below.  Full reports available upon request.


Addressing Health Disparities in Colorectal Cancer Screening:

A Quality Improvement Partnership between Southeast Health Center and PRIME-US

PRIME-US Capstone Students: Danielle Atibalentja, Joe Cartwright, Cleavon Gilman, Sarat Munjuluri, and Yakira Teitel, UCSF School of Medicine, Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved

Community partner: Dr. Keith Seidel, Medical Director at Southeast Health Center



Background: The Southeast Health Center (SEHC) is a primary care clinic run by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), located within Bayview-Hunter’s Point, one of the most isolated and underserved areas of San Francisco. Despite recent demographic shifts in San Francisco, SEHC continues to serve a low-income, majority African American patient population. Most SEHC patients have public health insurance; 20% of SEHC patients are homeless. Purpose: Within San Francisco as a whole, 79% of adults ages 50-75 have been properly screened for colorectal cancer (CRC); in contrast, only 52% of patients (and 48% of African American patients) were properly screened at SEHC over the past year. The current study was designed to investigate underlying causes of these low screening rates and propose interventions to address these disparities. Evaluation: This study involved two data collection methods: 1) a telephone survey of patients (n=40) who had received a FIT test within an 8 week period and had not yet returned the test for evaluation, and 2) a focus group discussion with medical assistants (MEAs) at SEHC. Survey results were analyzed quantitatively and the focus group discussion was analyzed qualitatively to identify key themes. Recommendations: This study’s findings support a 3-pronged approach to address disparities in CRC screening at SEHC, including: 1) enhancing current outreach and follow-up efforts, 2) piloting a “CRC Awareness Month” at SEHC, and 3) conducting further research and collaboration with key stakeholders to address downstream structural barriers affecting CRC screening.


Strengthening the Volunteer Role within a Team-Based Care Clinic

PRIME-US Students: Ben Hayes, Nick Orozco, Joe Luis Pantoja, and Kerri Rice

Community Partner/Project Supervisor: Kemi Role, Director of Workforce and Outreach at Women’s Community Clinic



Since it’s opening, Women’s Community Clinic has used an innovative volunteer-based business model to provide affordable health care services to Bay Area women and girls. Expansion of the clinic to include primary care services and adoption of electronic health records has made the front desk volunteer role (CSC) more complex and demanding. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the current role of CSC’s and make recommendations to improve upon this role given recent changes. Thirteen (13) semi-structured interviews were conducted, 12 staff and 1 CSC, to illicit satisfaction with the current CSC role and training.  Systematic thematic analysis was conducted to determine major themes across all interviews. Three main areas for improvement emerged, and include: increased community building between CSC’s and staff, providing means of longitudinal training and feedback for CSC’s, and eliciting expectations of CSC’s at the beginning of their commitment and meeting these expectations.


Trauma-Informed Training for Tenderloin Safe Passage

PRIME-US Students: Myrna Mungal, Natalie Terao, and Sunny Lai

Site Mentor: Kate Robinson, Program Director at Tenderloin Safe Passage



For our PRIME-US Capstone project, we worked with an organization in the Tenderloin called Safe Passage to create a trauma-informed curriculum for the staff and Corner Captains. This need arose from the prevalence of daily exposure to trauma that the Safe Passage staff and other members of the Tenderloin community have experienced and witnessed. Additionally, we updated a trauma resource guide to provide to Safe Passage for community residents needing additional support. In carrying out these projects, we constantly solicited feedback and made revisions based on input in order to best serve the organization. We faced a few challenges during our project. Most notable was the short timeframe that we were given to work with a new organization, but we faced this challenge by taking the time to get to know the organization through meetings, discussions, and debriefs, as well as observations of Corner Captains of the organization in the field, allowing us an opportunity to see and hear first-hand the role of the Corner Captains and the challenges they face. Our work on this project was successful due to a clear, concrete discussion of our goals and the items we would produce, assistance from our PRIME-US director, and drawing upon our own past experiences in trauma-related research. Our recommendations to Safe Passage include presentation of the Corner Captains’ trauma-informed principles that they generated during the workshop to Safe Passage’s leadership, training of the Corner Captains to teach the curriculum to community members, incorporating self-care into debriefing sessions, recruiting students and community members to improve the curriculum, and translating all materials into Spanish.


Tenderloin Safe Passage: Senior Safety

PRIME-US Capstone Group: Nicolás Barceló, Jessica L. Chow, Josh Connor, Martín Escandon, and Samantha Rawlins-Pilgrim

Site Mentor: Kate Robinson, Program Director at Tenderloin Safe Passage



There is a clear association between perceived safety, high neighborhood crime, and adverse health outcomes among senior populations. In no other community is this more apparent than in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, where nearly 6,000 low- income seniors reside. Tenderloin Safe Passage (TSP) is a community-based, grassroots organization dedicated to making the Tenderloin neighborhood a safer place for children and seniors. In October 2015, TSP partnered with the UCSF PRIME-US medical students to develop a senior safety needs assessment, which will be used to determine which interventions are needed to improve senior’s perceptions of safety in the Tenderloin.