As part of UCLA’s commitment to build community and forge connections with Westwood Village, the university will host its inaugural First Thursdays event on Thursday, March 3, on Broxton Avenue.

The monthly series, developed in partnership with the Westwood Village Improvement Association, will feature daytime and evening events for students, staff, faculty, alumni and members of the local community designed to highlight the village’s attractions and revitalize the historic link between the campus and the neighborhood.

“Westwood Village has always been such an important part of the UCLA community, and the village was an important part of my experience as a student,” said Mary Osako, UCLA’s vice chancellor for strategic communications. “With the incredible challenges the pandemic has wrought over the past two years, we know so many businesses have struggled in our community. First Thursdays are a new way for us to support them, encouraging Bruins to spend a wonderful day and evening in the village while at the same time supporting the business community and its growth in ways we hope can have a real economic impact.”

The events, to be held on the first Thursday of each month, kick off in the afternoon at the village’s bustling Westwood farmers market, where Bruins can shop for locally sourced foods and connect with UCLA-operated booths offering information and mentorship opportunities. In the evening, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., UCLA presents a series of community-building activities involving interactive installations, music, food and giveaways. Attendees will also receive coupon books for Westwood and campus businesses. The series will run through June.

Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, said there is a great need for this kind of partnership, given the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local businesses. While many adjusted their operating models and, despite losses, were able to remain open, others were forced to shut permanently, he noted.

“When people began to work and study remotely, the village lost its customer base,” Thomas said. “The Westwood Village Improvement Association is very excited about First Thursdays, as they will better connect our UCLA neighbors to the village’s business community and also provide a consistent event that will keep people returning to our district.”

The first First Thursdays event: March 3

Students at the farmers market will have the chance to connect with alumni from the fields of business, law, entertainment, technology and health sciences to chat about career opportunities over a free cup of coffee and to explore the UCLA Alumni Association’s various offerings, from networking websites and apps to the alumni mentorship program.

At night, an evening block party will feature e-sports gaming, live painting by muralist and UCLA alumna Lily Breeze, student sneaker art, KCRW DJ and alumna Valida spinning records, and dancing. Food trucks and vendors will offer a variety of fare, including tacos, pupusas, juices and more.

Admission to all First Thursdays events is free. 

Submitted by Elizabeth Kivowitz