Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning
Community Partner Guide to Service Learning:
3: Building a Partnership
Tips for Building and Maintaining an Effective Partnership
This list was created by the Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning (CUPS) at The University of Vermont in collaboration with community members and organizations and based on the literature on successful service-learning partnerships.
Each tip is associated with specific tools and strategies found in the Appendices of this guide.
1. Discover each other’s needs and motivations
- Educate student(s) about your organization and how your programs address community needs.
- Learn about your role in the course and discuss learning goals for all involved.
- Match skills, interests and learning goals with project/service needs and timeframe.
- Strategy #1A: Share materials such as brochures, annual reports or strategic plans as appropriate to the project.
- Strategy #1B: Request a copy of the course syllabus, text book, or other course materials.
- Tool #1A: Orientation Checklist
- Tool #1B: Service-Learning Asset Map
Service-Learning Partnership Timeline:
Step one: Take a look through the CUPS website and this guide to become familiar with the program and further your understanding of service-learning.
Step two: Decide if you have a potential Service-Learning opportunity.
Step three: Complete and submit the Community Partner Interest Form.
Step four: The CUPS office will review your interest form and begin to make connections on campus.
Step five: Your opportunity could be included in the CUPS newsletter.
Step six: The CUPS office will forward your listing to faculty who teach related courses.
Step seven: Contact between the faculty member and community partner.
Step eight: Partnership begins!! All elements of Service-Learning are incorporated.
Keep in mind that while a partnership does have a flexible and mutual schedule, the students and service-learning courses typically run on the University semester calendar (Fall: August to December and Spring: January to May)
2. Establish clear project/service agreements
- Discuss purpose and objectives of specific project or service. Demonstrate how it is “mission critical” so student(s) understand how the project will make a difference.
- Clarify the final results of the partnership (deliverables, services, etc.) and define a means for exchanging them.
- Define main contact people as well as roles, responsibilities, time commitments and key tasks.*
- Strategy #2A: Understand your rights and responsibilities as a Community Partner
- Tool #2A: First Meeting Interview Guide/Checklist
- Tool #2B: Memorandum of Agreement/Understanding
* The faculty member that you partner with may have a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant for their course. These students are trained in service-learning theory and practice by the CUPS Office to be supportive aides to both the faculty and the community partner. It is important that they stay informed and active as they are valuable additions to the partnership.
3. Prepare to meet partnership agreements
- Create mechanisms for regular communication and a timeline with important meetings and deadlines respecting both the academic and organization’s calendars.
- Anticipate and plan for liability and risk management issues.
- Strategy #3A: Review the Risk , Liability and Research Ethics Considerations
- Tool #3A: Project Management Toolbox (coming soon)
4. Maintain involvement and stick to agreements
- Stay in touch and provide feedback on student(s)’ work to ensure that the project meets your organization’s needs and the student(s)’ learning goals.
- Reflect with the students about the connection between the project, what is being taught in the course, and their personal learning goals.
- Strategy #4A: Students send weekly e-mail updates to Community Partner(s) and Instructor(s). If no progress was made in a given week, students can discuss their goals for the following week.
- Tool #4A: Reflection Guide and Activities
5. Celebrate the results and evaluate the process
- Attend final presentations or a final “closure” meeting with the student(s) and/or the instructors.
- Revisit earlier agreements (e.g. Memorandum of Agreement) and make suggestions to your project partners and/or our office to improve future collaboration.
6. Consider the next partnership opportunity
- Invite and provide feedback to help UVM and your organization better support future partnerships (see next section: Recommendations).
- Evaluate the experience within your organization. Consider how you incorporated the service-learning project and what could be modified in the future.
- Consider building a longer-term partnership by pursuing opportunities to work with the same instructor in future courses or research projects.
Long-term and Sustained PartnershipsGoing beyond a semester commitment will further the ability of the partners to work together, make the experience stronger and more meaningful for the students and increase the rewards for those involved. With a sustained commitment there is a greater opportunity for shared resources such as grants and less initial planning effort is required when the process is permanently established.
< Section Two: Introduction to Service-Learning
Section Four: Recommendations from past community partners >
Last modified January 28 2011 05:35 PM