School Stories

New Program Gets CSUSM Students Involved in City Projects

photo provided by City of San Marcos

Democracy in Action

The City of San Marcos and California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) are collaborating to blend civil service and education with a new program called Democracy in Action. The initiative allows CSUSM students to spend a semester working on city projects. Tasks included finding ways to curb unnecessary 911 calls; developing a marketing plan for the Double Peak Challenge; and analyzing data to help reduce stormwater pollution, among others.

“Some of the region’s brightest minds are on that campus, right down the street from City Hall, so this partnership felt like a natural win-win,” said Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill.

About 80 percent of CSUSM alumni continue living locally after graduation. With such a high rate of local alumni, fostering civic engagement is important to building a committed, connected community. “We wanted students to realize they can inform and impact their local government,” said Scott Gross, CSUSM Associate Vice President of Community Partnership Engagement. “They’re not just sitting in a classroom talking about theories – they’re actually putting their knowledge to work in a meaningful way, and their eyes light up.”

These students are already having an impact through Democracy in Action. Their new trash-collection map will help staff meet new environmental guidelines, and a promotional video they produced is already attracting potential businesses and residents. “It was great working on a project that extends beyond an assignment and impacts people,” said CSUSM student Kristina Kalchev. “I’m proud to include the video in my reel.”

Learn more about the program at


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