PLU students film for local food agencies

Food Distribution Center Photo

The Healthy Parkland Initiative is working to increase healthy food access and build capacity for partner organizations in the Parkland community. Through our work together, we found that there are persistent misconceptions about hunger and poverty in our community and there was a need for a video that helps introduce volunteers and community members to this important issue. PLU Media Lab student, Valery Jorgenson, made this video as part of a communications and media course in partnership with the Healthy Parkland Initiative, Emergency Food Network, FISH Food Banks, St. Leo Food Connection and other food distribution organizations in Pierce County.

Watch Defining Hunger.

English Language Learners at PLU

ELL at PLU group photo

Most nights in Hauge Administration Building are quite quiet. However, over the past year, 20-25 local residents participate in English Language Learner courses taught by PLU students each Tuesday and Thursday from 7-9pm. ELL students are broken into four sections based on skill level and work with PLU students to become more familiar with English. Senior Wendy Martinez, who provides leadership for the program says, “This program has been rewarding and meaningful in so many ways. It has provided me with an opportunity to learn about my strengths and weaknesses. It has also been an opportunity to engage and learn about other cultures. Tuesdays and Thursdays have become my favorite days. It is a time of learning, sharing, laughing and connecting with our surrounding community!”

Participants purchase books as they enter the program, come to classes two time/week, share in community events (the soccer game pictured above) and participate in a graduation ceremony at the end of each semester. Bridget Yaden, faculty advisor to the program, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Director of the Language Resource Center sees the value in it too, “This program gives our students a unique opportunity to serve the local diverse Spanish-speaking community.  Our students are able to use what they learn in their courses about language and culture in a real-world setting while at the same time helping others.  Students experience first-hand that their cultural and linguistic skills are valuable right here in our own backyard, not just in settings abroad.”
This program is facilitated through the Language Resource Center, Hispanic Studies Program and Center for Community Engagement and Service. To learn more feel free to email

Presidential Community Service Honor Roll

honor roll

In March, PLU was named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that demonstrate exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.

PLU Highlights include 240 students serving as tutors and mentors in local schools, 71% of the student body participating in service, 18th national ranking of Peace Corps Volunteers and 35% of PLU graduates having participated in Service-Learning Courses.

NEW CEL Course Designation

Emergency Food Network group photo

Community Engaged Learning Faculty.
As your department submits course options for the fall, designate your Fall 2014 course with a CEL course designation!

Pacific Lutheran University develops students through purposeful and relevant learning while preparing them for meaningful contributions to their academic discipline, vocation and community beyond graduation. The university recognizes Community Engaged Learning (CEL) as an important component of students’ personal, scholarly, professional and civic development.

What is CEL?
Community Engaged Learning (CEL) is a pedagogical model that incorporates classroom learning with local concerns in collaboration with community partners. CEL courses invite students to integrate classroom and community-based learning through thoughtful preparation, critical reflection, and assessment. In CEL courses, classroom learning strengthens students’ understanding of community concerns and community engagement strengthens students’ understanding of course content. CEL includes service-learning, community-based learning and community-based research.

Parkland Community Mural Project

parkland mural

PLU Students, staff and faculty are partnering with local youth, residents, organizations and businesses to develop a community mural located on Garfield Street and C Street in Parkland. Two community forums have surfaced a vision for what to include. Working groups have been formed around designing, fundraising, community engagement and outreach, operations and the sustainability of the project. Learn more.

PLU Granted AmeriCorps VISTA Position for Healthy Parkland

AmeriCorps VISTA

PLU was recently awarded an AmeriCorps VISTA position from Washington Campus Compact for the  Healthy Parkland Initiative. Healthy Parkland represents a partnership between PLU, Trinity Lutheran Church and Emergency Food Network to leverage resources and collaborate for improved healthy food access.
Our activities will include: student volunteer opportunities and service learning connections, increasing awareness of local food and nutrition concerns and research to discover new possibilities for healthy food access.
Our partners:Trinity Lutheran Church (TLC) – located across the street from PLU – provides a food ministry, a garden and community dinners for the benefit of the neighborhood.

Emergency Food Network (EFN) – located nearby in Lakewood – distributes food to over 67 Pierce County food banks and operates an organic farm.

Each of these organizations has opportunities for PLU community members to volunteer their time in service and offers a community connection to learn more about food security in our local community.

Record Numbers with Winterfest!


On Saturday, December 14, 2013 over 250 volunteers worked collaboratively to host Winterfest, a Parkland-based program designed to assist families with financial challenges during the holiday season. With the help of several community partners, Winterfest served 1,109 children and youth and from over 300 families. Children enjoyed arts, crafts, books, face painting, balloon tying and sitting on Santa’s lap while parents shopped for free toys, games and activities for their kids during the holiday season.

Learn more about Winterfest.

A special thank you to all of the business, organizations, schools and churches in Parkland and Spanaway that made this event possible!