University of Vermont

Office of Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning

Service-Learning Course Supports

Jump to:  In-class Workshops  |  Implementation Grants  |  SLTAs  |  Engaged Practices Innovation Grant (EPI)  |  Risk Management  |  Transportation

CUPS offers direct and indirect support and resources to help faculty implement their SL courses more effectively. Especially for faculty new to service-learning – or perhaps working on a new project or with new community partners – we can provide some of the background and context that will allow you to focus more directly on your discipline, learning goals, and outcomes.

In-Class Workshops

CUPS staff are available to visit SL courses to provide workshops for students. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about the workshops listed below, or would like like to discuss a custom workshop for your course.

Workshop topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Introduction to Service-Learning Pedagogy
  • Transferable Skills
    Help students identify the personal and professional skills they've gained in their service-learning experience, and how to convey those skills in job searches and future professional settings.
  • Reciprocity and Community Partnerships
    Help students understand and define reciprocity in service-learning projects, and critically reflect on how they can contribute to piositive community partnerships.
  • Place-Based Learning
    Ground the SL project in unique local features and resources, the environment, art and culture, history and communities of the particular place in which students will be working.
  • Cultural Competency
    Prepare students for entering new communities appropriately, orienting them to some of Vermont's historically marginalized communities, and help them make sense of new cultural experiences.
  • Taking SL Further
    Introduce opportunities for students to continue working with the same or new commnuity partners, through (for example) paid & for-credit internships, independent study, additional SL courses, or funded community-based research. We can present in class, provide referrals, or offer individualized mentoring for students.

Implementation Grants for Service-Learning Projects

CUPS provides small grants of up to $300 to support the service-learning project(s) in designated courses. Faculty may apply on behalf of students, or may ask students/student groups to apply as part of their professional development.

The course must have been designated as service-learning by the start of the semester. Grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis during the semester. We encourage you to seek alternative funding sources first, and to develop a source of funding for your course in the long-term. Longer-term partnerships may also be eligible for CUPS Partnerships Grants.

Grants can cover materials, supplies or resources needed to complete the service-learning project. The emphasis is on supporting the students to fulfill the community partner's requested needs, so food for a reception at the end of the term is not, for example, an appropriate request. If students need specialized assistance to complete a project, we may be able to support some training for students. Transportation expenses for students can only be reimbursed if the cost is incurred by a faculty member.

Please contact CUPS Director Susan Munkres with any questions about your course needs and whether they qualify for grant funding. To apply for an implementation grant, fill out this document and send to, with "Implementation Grant Request" in the subject line.


Service-Learning TAs (SLTAs)

Click here to request a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant.

CUPS trains undergraduate Service-Learning Teaching Assistants (SLTAs) to work on the service-learning component of "SL" designated courses. SLTAs can receive academic credit or – depending on experience – a stipend for the TAship through the CUPS office.

In your course, SLTA responsibilities typically include facilitating aand/or assessing critical reflection and discussion, helping students to connect their service or community-engaged work to the learning goals of the course. They may also help recruit community partners, handle logistics related to work in the community, or assist with project management. For international SL courses, TAs will also travel with the students.

SLTAs are expected to attend weekly training sessions in the CUPS Office, concurrent with their TAship. We train SLTAs in the pedagogy and practice of service-learning, project design, facilitating reflection, assessing reflection, cross-cultural competency, theories of social change, project management, and more. Our office has trained nearly 200 SLTAs since the program began.

CUPS works with you to set up a successful TAship. We have matched faculty and SLTAs in the past based on experience and interest area, but the most effective TAs are typically students who have taken the course in a previous semester, and/or those with whom the faculty has an existing relationship.

For more information, you can read our FAQs, and Program Coordinator Tom Wilson can work with you to determine how an SLTA might assist in your course, as well as identify potential students to fill the role. The earlier we can start matching faculty with a TA the more likely we are to find a strong student for the role; please contact us early and often if you're interested. If you know you would like to work with a SLTA, please click the link above to fill out the request form.

Engaged Practices Innovation Grant

EPI Grant Webpage
This grant from the Provost’s office is intended to fund new teaching initiatives aimed at promoting student retention and engagement at UVM. Since service-learning is a documented high-impact practice (contact us for references), teaching innovations involving service-learning of all stripes — community-based research, project-based and direct service — are strong candidates for this grant. CUPS staff are happy to consult and provide letters of support, if appropriate. Funded service-learning courses (some of which we supported with letters or consultation on the grant process) include:

  • Engaging Co-Learning Through Participatory Action Research (Fall 2017)
  • Birding to Change the World (Spring 2016)
  • Asian Languages: Engaged Teaching for Engaged Learning (Fall 2015)

To look at these proposals, the notification letter and additional materials, see the Funded EPI Grants webpage.


Risk Management

As with any form of experiential learning in which students leave campus, service-learning can entail different risks than classroom learning. Faculty should consider the specific risks involved in academic service-learning, and respond appropriately in course and project design. This information supplements information from UVM's department of Risk Management, which may also be useful.

Guiding Principles of Risk Management for Academic Service-Learning
  • Provide an orientation to students that includes an overview of service-learning and the policies, expectations and guidelines involved in the specific service activities, projects or research in which they will be engaging.
  • Discuss the syllabus and/or assignments with students so that they fully understand their responsibilities, partners' expectations, the learning objectives, and the context for the service, project or research. Written agreements or memoranda of understanding (MOUs) are strongly encouraged.
  • Conduct visits, if appropriate, with service sites to ensure safety and suitability.
  • Collect students' emergency contact information, and familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures in the site, if appropriate.
Ways We Can Help

As with any topic, CUPS staff are happy to consult on risk management practices in your particular course.

Our Resource Library has many publications highlighting the range of academic service-learning, with examples and materials from many disciplines.

SL-TAs can be requested in advance. These teaching assistants can help manage the service-learning project, conduct site visits, orient students to service sites, gather emergency contact information if appropriate, and/or function as a liaison to a community partner.


For more extensive information, please review the Department of Risk Management & Safety's “Field Trip Guidelines”. The Vehicle Safety section of their website is also an indispensable resource for transportation risk management information.

Best Transportation Practices — Bus and University-Owned Vehicles

Use of personal vehicles is discouraged. Ideally, students will travel by bus or in University-owned or leased vehicles. CCTA buses are free for UVM students. University-owned vehicles are available in some departments.

The Student Government Association rents six 12-passenger vans and a pick-up truck. Academic departments can reserve them 10 days in advance of the rental and student groups can reserve up to 4 weeks ahead, meaning SGA vehicles have extremely limited availability on weekends. During the summer and mid-week, however, they become more available. SGA vans cost $90/day (each) and are parked at the Gutterson Parking Garage. This includes insurance through the University. If anything were to happen, it would be covered except for a deductible, for which the renting department is responsible. Vans come with a full tank of gas, and renters are responsible for returning them full. Contact Sara Gabaree in SGA to reserve one of their vehicles van.

Drivers of University-owned vans must be certified through the driver safety program offered by Risk Management. Note that this includes a driving background check through the DMV (which can take up to 10 days) and a 2-hour driver safety lesson. For more information, see their Driver Safety Program webpage.

Renting Vehicles

If University-owned vehicles are not available, vans or cars may be rented. UVM maintains a rental agreement with Hertz. Travelers should visit the Hertz Direct Booking Tool at: or call the local Shelburne Road Office: (802) 859-3601. The UVM corporate discount number is 1814044. Those renting vehicles should review UVM's policies concerning auto rental.

Use of Personal Vehicles

Student driving is also discouraged. If students or faculty must drive personal vehicles, they must show proof of a valid driver's license, insurance and sign the alternative transportation waiver. When students are travelling on their own for service-learning and community projects, it is best to arrange a university vehicle. But if that is not feasible, collect all drivers' liscense and insurance information, and have them all sign the waivers. NOTE: Those driving personal vehicles will not be covered by UVM's insurance policy in case of an accident.


Review the appropriate UVM policies for auto rental and use of University-owned vehicles. These are quite specific; consider bringing a copy of the policy with you.

Last modified March 19 2018 12:26 PM