Working with Organizations

Best Practices Overview:

Visit the partner website - or visit the organization - speak with the community agent - define the desired community learning relative to community/organization needs - invite the community agent to class to present information or orientation or training to students in class - consider reflection activities - direct students to the CCLL and Career Center websites for more information - require the Student Service-Learning Plan as integral to the pedagogy and to risk management - set up course SL parameters on SJS4 (2014) - have students input their SL/CE information on SJS4 (2014) - request evaluation and/or join your partner(s) in assessing the community learning experience.

Working with Community Agencies

  • Keep in mind the three tasks of most nonprofit agencies: provide direct service , educate and generate friends and resources.

  • Offer service that will help the agency implement its primary purpose of service delivery.

  • Be flexible about the timing, extent and nature of the service to be provided.

  • Know the agency's mission and involve them from the start in the planning process.

  • Listen to the agency's needs, ideas and concerns.

  • Communicate respectfully on the university/community relationship.

  • Be aware of potential culture clashes between the university and a community nonprofit or K-12 school and talk about these differences and places where problems might occur.

  • Think of the agency as an actual partner.

  • Develop your relationship; the most powerful way of doing this is in person.

  • Few agencies may understand community learning, thinking in terms of community service. Inform them, share course goals and encourage your partner to brainstorm with you.

  • Most agencies are understaffed, under-funded and in mild-to-acute perpetual crisis. Don't take it personally when you're not the most important item on their agenda.

  • An agency may down prospective volunteers if the skills, temperament, or numbers of students are mismatched with the work or needs of the agency.

  • Successful placements and projects have concrete goals and tangible outcomes that can be measured; this happens best when agencies and instructors plan together.

  • People work for nonprofits because they want to make the world a better place, solve local problems and address pressing issues. Like many faculty, nonprofit and school staff want to work with you and help make a difference in the lives of students.