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Developing a Community Partnership

When searching for a community site to collaborate with in a service learning course, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

Willingness to collaborate

  1. Available for regular communication (i.e., phone calls, meeting)
  2. Responsive to mutual problem solving
  3. Open to meeting both student needs and agency goals
  4. Ability to supervise and interact with college students

Agency has adequate resources to orient, train, and monitor students

  1. Designated staff willing to supervise students
  2. Procedures to orient and train students
  3. Provides necessary space for program needs
  4. Procedures to track student attendance and contributions

Congruence of learning and service goals

  1. Interest in learning objectives of class or program
  2. Flexibility in adjusting service projects to meet learning goals

Identification of appropriate service activities and projects

  1. Clearly defines expectations for students
  2. Provides direction for project implementation
  3. Identify tasks appropriate to the knowledge and skills of students

Intercultural sensitivity of agency

  1. Demonstrates culture of respect for diversity
  2. Receptive to working with students of different backgrounds and abilities
  3. Provides orientation to culture and traditions of agency


  1. Near public transportation
  2. Location is convenient for students
  3. Appropriate compliance with ADA or similar statutes

Liability and risk management

  1. Provides information on agency’s liability insurance, if applicable
  2. Screens students according to agency volunteer guidelines
  3. Provides safe and supervised environment for students
  4. Provides training on universal precautions, if applicable
  5. Provides students with procedures for crisis management


Overall, according to Barbara A. Holland and Sherril B. Gelmon in “The State of ‘Engaged Campus’: What Have We Learned About Building and Sustaining University-Community Partnerships,” in order to sustain a partnership, you need to have the following characteristics:

  • There are mutually agreed-upon goals
  • Success is defined and outcomes are measured in both institutional and community terms
  • Control of the agenda is vested primarily in community hands
  • Effective use and enhancement of community capacity are based on clear identification of community resources and strengths
  • The educational component has clear consequences for the community and the institution
  • There is an ongoing commitment to evaluation that involves all partners

For searching for possible community partnerships in the Dubuque area, there are 3 main resources you can check out:

Many of the projects under service learning will count towards Compass Intercultural Engagement.  It may be a good idea to have a conversation with their office when planning for your course.  They, along with Campus Ministry, can assist with outreach and coordination with community partners.