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Partnering with Community Service-Learning

Click here to download an editable Word document of the Community Partner Agreement.

Our Mission 

CS-L cultivates positive social change through mutually beneficial service partnerships, critical reflection, and the development of engaged citizens. Our values are: humility, intentionality, equity, accountability, service, relationships, and learning. Read more at https://www.jmu.edu/csl/about.

 

Service-Learning defined[1]

A teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful service with the community and instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

Service-Learning is:

  • Mutually beneficial: it addresses community-identified priorities and student learning goals;
  • Reflective: students are expected to critically consider assumptions, challenges, successes, learning, root causes, and so forth to ensure thoughtful and ethical service; and
  • Integrated with the curriculum: students have defined learning objectives that are met both through classroom instruction and practical opportunities to address community-identified capacities, root causes, and pressing needs.

 

Goals

CS-L will collaborate with faculty members, students, and community members to facilitate meaningful and mutually beneficial student involvement in the community that meets the designated goals of our region.

This partnership aims to:

  • Pursue more just, equitable, and sustainable futures for communities beyond the campus;
  • Create transformative learning environments;
  • Prepare students for lives of engaged citizenship; and
  • Bolster JMU’s commitment to purposeful, ethical, and responsive community involvement.

 

Commitment to social justice, addressing structural inequality, and anti-racism 

CS-L prepares students to create more just, equitable, and sustainable communities. We do that through facilitating direct community engagement, enhancing capacity of community organizations, and advocating for positive change. Racism undermines our efforts for a fair and just community at every level of society.  

CS-L pledges to:

  • Critically examine the roles we—as individuals, our office, and the field of Service-Learning have played in perpetuating racial inequities. 
  • Prioritize the personal and professional growth of our team, students, colleagues, and partners as social justice and inclusion agents of change.
  • Actively work to expand our partnerships with socially just and inclusive organizations and stakeholders.

Additional resources can be found on CS-L’s website.

We will hold ourselves and each other accountable to learning, advocating, and acting to develop a more just and equitable society. Community Partners engaging with our programs and students are expected to make similar commitments and agree to treat people with dignity and respect.

 

CS-L agrees to:

  • Work with Community Partners to list service opportunities in a directory made available to JMU students, faculty, and staff (Volunteer Now platform). Unless otherwise agreed upon, CS-L will solicit opportunity ideas in May/June (for the fall semester) and October/November (for the spring semester).
  • Have Service-Learners create a profile on Volunteer Now, where they will be directed to connect with Community Partners directly.
  • Have Service-Learners complete any other documents required and provided by the Community Partner (background checks, volunteer forms, etc.).
  • Prepare and train students for service, when possible, through pre-service reflection and information about the Community Partner.
  • Share students’ contact information with the Community Partner.
  • Address the Community Partner’s priorities whenever possible through connections to faculty, student organizations, and other JMU resources (e.g. convening space, faculty expertise, on-campus events, off-campus event promotion, and so forth).
  • Publicize Community Partners’ events and opportunities as appropriate. However, CS-L cannot ensure students’ participation in projects.
  • Provide a JMU calendar and additional relevant information to the Community Partner.
  • Support and encourage all Service-Learners to engage in ongoing reflection to increase the likelihood of thoughtful and ethical service.
  • Support the Community Partner in planning and leading service, and be available to discuss changes and challenges.
  • Co-create evaluation measures with the Community Partner, and collect and share feedback from the Community Partner, students, and faculty.
  • Establish clear expectations for Service-Learners to review and agree to uphold prior to engaging with Community Partner. See Index A for a copy of the Student Commitment Form.
  • Communicate regularly with Community Partners and Service-Learners regarding JMU’s COVID-19 protocols, guidelines, and expectations.

The Community Partner agrees to:

  • Identify service opportunities that increase the capacity of the organization and build on community assets, while allowing students to learn and contribute positively.
  • Provide current information to CS-L about their organization’s mission, organizational priorities, service needs, and special projects, as well as a calendar and additional important information for the CS-L online directory (Volunteer Now).
  • Designate a staff or volunteer coordinator to serve as a primary contact and communicate with students.
  • Provide an orientation for students to have a basic understanding of the mission and work of the organization, relevant social issues, and any professional expectations.
  • Supervise students and support them in their day-to-day service.
  • Assist with the creation of evaluation measures and participate in the evaluation process.
  • Support the development of relationships between students and community members.
  • Provide a safe work environment—which may be remote—for Service-Learners to carry out their assigned tasks.
    • Accordingly, Community Partners agree to establish and maintain clear COVID-19 safety practices and protocols, including, but not limited to:
      • Supplying hand sanitizer and hand washing stations.
      • Comply with all CDC and Commonwealth of Virginia guidelines regarding face coverings, quarantine, isolation, reduced physical contact, physical distancing, and maintenance of clean surfaces.  

 

Communication and Accountability

To ensure success, CS-L and the Community Partner will communicate regularly to provide prompt updates regarding program changes, new projects, opportunities, and other feedback.  If either party receives concerning feedback or perceives performance as unsatisfactory, they will promptly notify the other party and seek clarification.

In the event that a Community Partner is believed to have dishonored this agreement, CS-L will work with the Community Partner to identify additional training opportunities and resources to better equip their team and organization to appropriately engage with JMU students, faculty, and staff. This may include one-on-one consultation, mediation, making referrals, and/or providing access to resources to enhance cultural competency and better integrate just, equitable, and inclusive policies and practices into their work.

Dependent on the severity of any infraction of this agreement, engagement with some or all JMU students may halt until a plan for next steps to move forward is established and agreed upon by the relevant parties.

 

Student Commitment

Steps to Successful Community Engagement

Engaging in the community provides you with an outstanding learning opportunity, and it also comes with a great deal of responsibility. You have the potential to make an important contribution, especially if you prepare for and reflect on the experience. This document outlines key steps for you to take to be successful. Before you can be connected with a community partner, you must acknowledge that you understand and agree to these steps.

CS-L works to develop more just and sustainable communities through building relationships and learning from one another. As we address the dual pandemics of racism and COVID-19, CS-L strengthens our resolve to learning, advocating, and acting to develop a more just and equitable society. JMU students engaging with our programs and partners are expected to treat people with dignity and respect as well as to take the actions outlined below.

Step 1: Commit to Being a Responsible and Ethical Community Citizen
  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Attend all training for my engagement experience.
  • Carry out all assigned tasks.
  • Be drug and alcohol-free prior to and during my community project.
  • Be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with agency rules, policies, protocols, emergency procedures, and expectations.
  • Learn:
  • Understand that I am not only working with the community, but the community is working with me by investing valuable resources in my learning.
  • Be sensitive to how my thoughts and actions affect others.
  • Be dedicated to learning, engaged and ready to serve whenever I am on site.
  • Be honest, show respect for individuals and their property, suspend assumptions and keep an open mind.
  • Be Timely:
  • Notify my supervisor (and client, if appropriate) as soon as possible if an emergency prevents me from meeting an obligation.
  • Be on time and maintain a regular schedule with my community partner, and stick to it (clients may benefit less or even be negatively affected if I am inconsistent in my participation).
  • Discuss my schedule with my supervisor during breaks and holidays (I am not expected to participate in activities during official school breaks).
  • Maintain Confidential and Ethical Storytelling:
  • Keep all identifying information about the client(s) private and confidential outside of the community agency. This includes names, addresses, phone numbers, personal or family matters, places of employment, living habits, and other items that clients may discuss with or in front of me. I will use pseudonyms/generalizations if referring to the people I have connected with in course assignments, presentations, or discussions.
  • I will avoid taking photos that will reveal the identity of clients and/or potentially exploit the communities I am serving.
  • I will not share any stories I do not have explicit permission from those involved to share.
Step 2: Be Your Best
  • Dress neatly, clean, and positive. I will avoid wearing tank tops, torn jeans, short-shorts, hats, t-shirts with inappropriate print or lettering, or clothes that are low cut or expose my midriff. I will be considerate about what I wear and display (i.e., clothes, jewelry, tattoos, shoes, and piercing) to be sensitive to agency safety precautions, values, and appropriateness.
  • Plan my route and confirm the address.
  • Consider my motivations for serving.
  • Reflect on and check my assumptions about the community I am serving.
 Step 3: Practice Effective Communication
  • Introduce myself and share relevant skills and interests.
  • Describe what type of project I intend to do.
  • Describe how much time I will commit and when I am available. I acknowledge that it is not helpful for me to just send a screenshot of my schedule without outlining travel time and additional information about my actual availability. 
Step 4: Keep Yourself and Others Safe
  • Eliminate physical contact with others, such as handshakes and embraces.
  • Avoid touching surfaces that are touched by others as much as possible.
  • Maintain physical distance of six or more feet when possible.
  • Wear face masks, which cover the nose and mouth at all times when in public settings (indoors and outdoors).
  • Read and review all JMU and Partner Site policies and procedures pertaining to safety protocols. This includes the JMU Fall 2020 Return to Campus Plan.
  • Complete all JMU and Partner Site required safety training, including JMU provided training on COVID-19 and required behaviors such as:
  • Complete daily health screenings using the LiveSafe app.
  • Quarantine or isolate at home when exhibiting symptoms or suspected of having COVID-19. 

 

Addressing Concerns

If I encounter difficult or uncomfortable situations—including those associated with inadequate COVID-19 safety precautions and/or issues of racism and discrimination—or should a problem arise between the agency and myself, I will notify my community partner supervisor, CS-L staff, and/or my faculty as soon as possible.

 

 

[1] Adapted from: National Service-Learning Clearinghouse. Seifer, S.D. & Connors K. (2007). Community campus partnerships for health. Faculty toolkit for Service-Learning in higher education. Retrieved from https://ccph.memberclicks.net/assets/Documents/FocusAreas/he_toolkit.pdf

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