Because of University Neighborhood Partners (UNP), Almaida Yanagui believes in fairy tales. “I’ve always felt like Cinderella,” Yanagui says. “Education was my carriage to a brighter future, and UNP has been the ball where everything changed.”
Nearly two decades ago, when Yanagui needed resources to support her daughter, she found UNP. She attended a course about parental rights in the education system and learned how to advocate for her children. Through UNP, Yanagui found the confidence to earn her GED and attend college. This led to her working at UNP as the Education Pathways partnership manager/community organizer.
As UNP celebrates two decades of collaboration between the U and Salt Lake County’s west side, stories like Yanagui’s are the heart of the partnership’s accomplishments. UNP was started in 2001 to increase access to the U for west side residents and build a reciprocal relationship between both communities. Since then, multiple resident committees have been created, partnerships have grown, and the UNP work has expanded into West Valley City.
The UNP network and the Hartland Partnership Center provide resources such as English language instruction, mental health support, citizenship classes, employment workshops, after-school and summer programs, and more. Scholarships to the U and other Utah colleges and universities are also available through UNP. Notably, many of the partnership’s staff began their careers at UNP after benefiting from these very resources.
“There is a strong network of university students, faculty and staff, community organizations, and residents on the west side of Salt Lake City that have created an ecosystem of belonging and opportunity,” says Kimberly Schmit BFA’98 MEd’07, UNP’s director of community praxis. “Pieces of that ecosystem were always there. When members of the community allowed us to learn and grow with them, what emerged is an even deeper culture of opportunity for all involved.”
UNP has witnessed these resources impact multiple generations of families, adds Schmit. “There are families where I knew the mom, then I knew her son, and now I see his children,” she remarks. “It’s three generations that UNP has had the privilege of engaging with and learning from.”
Salt Lake County
As the state’s flagship university, the U is committed to improving the lives of all Utahns. These stories highlight how we’re making an impact in every county.