Sustainable City Year Program


SCYP helps transform Oregon communities large and small

Through year-long partnerships, the Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) helps communities solve the problems of today and lay the groundwork for a sustainable, livable future—all while helping students prepare for the workforce through applied learning.

Typical Projects and Classes

The broad range of issues communities face can be matched with the similarly broad range of expertise and focus of SCYP. The following list captures many of the typical project areas that past communities have focused on, though new ideas and opportunities emerge each year.

Many projects involve community site visits and all projects yield a synthesized, professional report that becomes a decision-making deliverable for our community partner (and a great workforce development project for the student report writers). The past final reports are available in the Past SCYP Partnerships section below.

A map of Oregon noting the locations of all past SCYP partnerships.
  • Planning
    • Public Transit
    • Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning
    • Wayfinding (with digital arts)
    • Parks and Open Space Planning
    • Downtown Revitalization
    • Housing Opportunities
    • Land Use and Growth Management
    • Planning for New Mobility
  • Business
    • Workforce and Industry Analysis
    • Economic Development
    • Urban Renewal
    • Strategic Planning
    • Industrial Ecology
  • Design (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, etc.)
    • Retrofits
    • Civic Design
    • Ecological Corridor Design
    • Product Design
    • Historic Preservation
    • Passive Heating
  • Community Engagement
    • Public Relations Campaigns
    • Engagement with Marginalized Communities
    • Stakeholder Engagement
    • Community Advisory Council
  • Geography
    • Remote Sensing and Mapping
    • GIS Analysis
    • Community Asset Mapping
  • Public Policy and Management
  • Law
    • Legal Analysis
    • Local Codes for Sustainability 

The Magic of SCYP

The Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) is a large-scale partnership between universities and communities in Oregon. It works within existing administrative structures of community partners and academia, is a genuine partnership where projects are community-identified or community-approved, is intentionally aimed at improving community quality of life, and can be scaled to partner size and context. The core of the program is matching university courses (students and faculty) with an Oregon city, county, special district, tribe, or partnership of governments for an entire academic year to work on partner-identified projects that are are part of local work plans and goals.

SCYP harnesses the innovation and energy of students and faculty to provide the analysis, bold ideas, and fresh perspectives that help local communities move forward, get unstuck, or get energized to address important context-specific economic, environmental, and social ambitions. We know that cities and communities are staffed with leaders and staff who want to make real change and are passionate about moving their cities into the future; yet we also know that they are often limited by a lack of time, budget, and sometimes knowledge of the latest best practices. And this is the space where SCYP thrives - in essence, the SCYP partnership puts university talent to work helping strengthen Oregon communities.

“Student efforts on these projects inject fresh perspectives into our design processes to help fuel innovation in applied sustainability and expand the benefits for the communities we serve.” - Jeb Doran, TriMet Senior Project Manager 

While the primary focus of SCYP is to help tangibly advance Oregon communities, students also benefit more than they normally would in a classroom-only setting. Faculty are also more motivated about their teaching and mentorship. And in the end, our faculty and our community partners are working together to build the next generation workforce, helping train students to enter their professional careers already having insight and experience into local community goals, challenges, and processes, the larger decision-making context of our State, and with the knowledge that they can be part of improving Oregon communities. SCYP is a transformative and exciting experience for everyone involved!


Current SCYP Partnership

Salem Logo

City of Salem (2023-2024)

After more than a decade, the Sustainable City Year Program will be returning to the City of Salem for a partnership for the 2023-24 school year. Oregon’s second largest city (179,605; 2022) and State’s capital is located in the heart of the Willamette Valley. 

Salem is a diverse community with well-established neighborhoods, a family-friendly ambiance, and a small town feel, with easy access to the Willamette riverfront and nearby outdoor recreation, and a variety of cultural opportunities.

Salem is in the midst of sustained, steady growth. The city has been anticipating and planning for the impacts of climate change, among other important issues. The breadth of classes reflects Salem’s interests in a wide range of topics, with a course underway in summer 2023 and courses in journalism, architecture, geography, planning, and public administration planned for during the 2023-24 school year. Additional courses and disciplines will be added throughout the year as project and course matches are made.

This SCYP and City of Salem partnership is possible in part due to support from U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, as well as former Congressman Peter DeFazio, who secured federal funding for SCYP through Congressionally Directed Spending. With additional funding from the city, the partnership will allow UO students and faculty to study and make recommendations on city-identified projects and issues.


Past SCYP Partnerships

Since 2009, SCYP has opened pathways that connect a broad range of Oregon cities and agencies to the innovative, expansive, and energetic brainpower of the University of Oregon. These relationships help create outcomes that extend well beyond the yearlong partnership. The impact of SCYP continues for many years not only as student recommendations come to fruition, but also as students enter the workforce prepared for careers in service to Oregon communities. SCYP is much more than a one-year project with a student – it's a connection to the University of Oregon and a platform for a sustainable future.

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City of Hermiston Logo

Special Project: Hood River (Winter 2020)

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Lane Transit District (2019-2020)

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City of Silverton (2019-2020)

Gresham and Eugene (2018-2019)

Special Projects: Springfield and Dunes City (2018-2019)

La Pine (2018) - Small City Pilot

Redmond (2015-2016)

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METRO, Multnomah County, Troutdale and Gresham (2014-2015)

Medford (2013-2014)

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Springfield & Lane Transit District (2012-2013)

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Springfield (2011-2012)

Gresham (2009-2010)


SCYP is a proud to be a founding member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N), an international network of colleges and universities partnering with communities based on five key elements:

  1. Respect Existing administrative structures/individual responsibilities and incentives on all sides
  2. Create a genuine Partnership with local governments (or community organizations)
  3. Intentionally aims at improving quality of life
  4. Focus on Community-identified, -driven, and -evaluated contribution to the community
  5. Catalyze multi-disciplines and large Numbers (courses, students, hours)
National Institute for Transportation and Communities Logo

SCYP receives partial support from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) to help educate the next generation transportation workforce and to help share the SCYP program model with others across the United States.