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Developing and Designing a Partnership

Here are some questions to ask when considering a potential campus partnership:

  • Does this project meet the needs of our organization, solve a problem, or address a project (or a small part of a larger project)?
  • How many students can we accommodate?
  • Do we have staff capacity to supervise/provide oversight? Do they need on-site supervision?
  • Do the students have the necessary skills or requirements to work with our organization?
  • What do we need the students to complete before they can start? E.g. standard onboarding, orientation, training, paperwork/waivers, background checks.
  • How often will the faculty/staff/lead student check in on the students and your organization? What process can be established if there are concerns (e.g. not showing up, tardiness, not fulfilling responsibilities, etc.)?

Additionally, community engagement activities can take place in groups or with individual students and may take various forms, such as:

  • Placement: students work on-site with an organization weekly throughout most of the semester
  • Presentation: students research/prepare information of value and benefit to the community organization and present it in a formal presentation
  • Product: students produce a product or written document for an organization
  • Project: students develop and implement a project/event/activity for an organization

Developing Your Partnership

  1. Clearly define and agree upon the goals of the project. Discuss how the goals for your organization and the faculty/staff/student learning goals will be accomplished. Determine if it would be helpful to see the course syllabus.
  2. Discuss the time commitment of all parties.
  3. Plan a time to provide an overview of your organization such as vision, mission, program, services, how their work will benefit the organization etc. Also discuss expectations like dress, hygiene, behavior, what to bring/not bring, or safety. Determine where and when is the best place to deliver this information (come to the class or group meeting, students come to your office).
  4. Establish a plan for regular communication with the faculty/staff/lead student.
  5. Ask about expectations for your organization role in evaluating the student. What does the faculty want? What are you comfortable with?
  6. Practice flexibility, understanding, and empathy. Partnerships take time to develop and will have an occasional challenge especially when working with undergraduate students.
  7. After the project is complete, honestly evaluate the partnership. Were all parties goals/needs met? Has your organization been enhanced?
  8. Discuss if this partnership can be repeated or modified for the future. Is there an opportunity for a long-term, sustainable partnership?