The Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC) at the University of California, Irvine was established in 2001 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through its Office of University Partnerships (OUP). Located in the School of Social Ecology, COPC programming activities emphasize collaborative problem solving around urban and regional planning issues in Southern California, notably Orange County. COPC collaborations focus on building partnerships with local and regional leaders, both institutional and grassroots, working to mitigate the impacts of unequal planning and development on the well-being of people, places, and opportunity.
COPC campus-community collaborations recognize the specialized value of anchor institutions, such as universities and colleges, in supporting and advancing community development efforts to revitalize distressed communities and neighborhoods.
COPC partnerships offer mutual benefits for campus and community partners alike. Through the use of applied research strategies COPC is able to provide students and faculty with opportunities to connect the practice of discovery to grassroots efforts that support capacity building in distressed and and under-resourced places locally and regionally. The end result of these collaborations includes faculty and students sharing knowledge and skills with local residents, while simultaneously learning from the communities served. Such efforts are best understood as an example of catalytic leadership. This model of leadership inspires new ways of working that will help communities to identify and achieve their highest aspirations.