Community Partnerships

The Community Engagement & Volunteer Center (CEVC) maintains relationships with over 100 community partners throughout the region. Many of these organizations post opportunities on Volunteer NOW for students to contribute specific efforts to meet their mission. In addition, CEVC co-chairs JMU’s Community engagement Coordinating Council (CeCC) and participates in several regional networks in an effort to bolster community strengths by connecting JMU resources and capacity. CEVC assists faculty in all stages of developing and maintaining community partnerships, from identifying potential partners and facilitating introductions, to strengthening and sustaining long-term partnerships. The following benchmarks, principles, and resources inform our approach.

Campus Compact, a national organization of over 1,000 colleges and universities promoting student civic engagement and community development, proposed these three benchmarks to assist campuses in building collaborative campus/community partnerships that benefit all parties.

Stage I: Designing Partnerships
Genuine democratic partnerships are:

  • Founded on a shared vision and clearly articulated values
  • Beneficial to partnering institutions

Stage II: Building Collaborative Relationships
Genuine democratic partnerships that build strong collaborative relationships are:

  • Composed of interpersonal relationships based on trust and mutual respect
  • Multi-dimensional: They involve the participation/collaboration of multiple/several sectors that act in service of a complex problem
  • Clearly organized and led with dynamism

Stage III: Sustaining Your Partnership Over Time
Genuine democratic partnerships that will be sustained over time are:

  • Integrated into the mission and support systems of the partnering institutions
  • Sustained by a “partnership process” for communication, decision-making, and the initiation of change
  • Evaluated regularly with a focus on both methods and outcomes

(Campus Compact, 2001)

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health has “studied, examined, engaged in, and evaluated what makes partnerships work, sustain authenticity, and achieve the change they want to see in their community” (CCPH, 2021, para. 1) and proposed the following 12 principles:

  1. The Partnership forms to serve a specific purpose and may take on new goals over time.
  2. The Partnership agrees upon mission, values, goals, measurable outcomes and processes for accountability.
  3. The relationship between partners in the Partnership is characterized by mutual trust, respect, genuineness, and commitment.
  4. The Partnership builds upon identified strengths and assets, but also works to address needs and increase capacity of all partners.
  5. The Partnership balances power among partners and enables resources among partners to be shared.
  6. Partners make clear and open communication an ongoing priority in the Partnership by striving to understand each other’s needs and self-interests, and developing a common language.
  7. Principles and processes for the Partnership are established with the input and agreement of all partners, especially for decision-making and conflict resolution.
  8. There is feedback among all stakeholders in the Partnership, with the goal of continuously improving the Partnership and its outcomes.
  9. Partners share the benefits of the Partnership’s accomplishments.
  10. Partnerships can dissolve, and when they do, need to plan a process for closure.
  11. Partnerships consider the nature of the environment within which they exist as a principle of their design, evaluation, and sustainability.
  12. The Partnership values multiple kinds of knowledge and life experiences.

(Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Board of Directors, 2013)

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