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The ASU/SVdP Partnership

Joined in helping each other uplift the community

Since establishing a formal partnership in 2017, Arizona State University and St. Vincent de Paul have formed 491 touchpoints that create innovative opportunities in programming, learning, research and service. Take a moment to explore three prominent partnership areas that showcase what happens when ASU’s academic talent and research prowess combines with SVdP’s expansive vision, resources and social service expertise. 

Together in Sustainability
What started as an old parking lot on SVdP’s main campus just south of Interstate 17, transformed into a thriving urban farm thanks to the partnership of SVdP with ASU’s Walton Sustainability Solutions Service and a $1 million Rob & Melani Walton Foundation grant backing the initiative. The two-acre farm project launched in 2016 and fully opened January 2018, becoming an oasis of nutritious produce in the middle of an urban food desert. 

Together, the SVdP and ASU teams maximized the social, environmental and economic impact of SVdP’s Rob & Melani Walton Urban Farm, which inspired two additional farms collocated with other SVdP dining rooms. Since its opening, the urban farms project has:

  • Harvested more than 51,000 pounds of fresh produce to be prepared and served to people experiencing food insecurity.
  • Diverted a total of more than 454,000 pounds of food waste into compost to create nutrient-rich soil.


Together in Wellness
Promoting health, wellness and disease prevention in vulnerable communities brings together SVdP’s Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation Center for Family Wellness and Dr. Gabriel Shaibi, an associate professor in ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. Through his research, Dr. Shaibi seeks community solutions to obesityrelated health problems in high-risk and vulnerable populations. 

Since 2000, SVdP’s Family Wellness program and team of Registered Dietitians has provided one such community solution through nutrition, exercise and overall wellness courses for children, youth and adults from low-income areas who have a higher prevalence of diabetes and typically don’t have access to quality health care.

Dr. Shaibi’s research backs the effectiveness of SVdP’s overall wellness programming while also helping further its innovation. The Ivy Center for Family Wellness empowers communities with wellness knowledge and tools so that people can sustain healthy change and lifestyles for good. It has gained national recognition and accreditation from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. The partnership was also featured in the 2018 issue of ASU Social Embeddedness Magazine and received the ASU President’s 2019 Social Embeddedness Award.


Together in Experiential Learning & Service
SVdP and ASU’s partnership grooms the next generation of engaged community leaders and nonprofit professionals by offering students learning and service opportunities in the field. ASU gets a reliable partner in experiential learning, and SVdP harnesses the massive pool of talent that lies in ASU’s students, many of whom come from the Watts College of Public Service & Community Solutions

Watts College has a strong relationship with SVdP and makes up almost a quarter of all 491 intersecting partnership activities, including the organization of 12 large-scale Day of Service events. The majority of students learning and serving at SVdP come from studies in Next Generation Service Corps, Nonprofit Leadership & Management and/or social work. 

Currently, six ASU social work students are building SVdP’s capacity to facilitate Miracle Messages, a family reunification program focused on reconnecting individuals experiencing chronic homelessness with their families. This is the second phase of the program, as Nonprofit Leadership & Management students piloted Miracle Messages in fall 2018. They reconnected six of the 25 participating SVdP guests, demonstrating the power of family reunification to relieve homelessness and the homelessness prevention growth opportunity for SVdP.