How does Community Engagement at JMU look?

If you are a community member looking to start a new partnership with JMU but don't know where to begin, please email Jenna Piersol, Coordinator of Community Partnership Development, at to get started, or check out our Resources page to get an overview of existing programs at JMU.

Visit the Community Gateway

Departments from across the university are eager to partner with the local and global community to connect learning to practice, address critical societal problems and improve quality of life. From JMU’s perspective a partnership is a relationship with an external party with which JMU has common interests and concerns, where both parties are working toward identified needs and outcomes. These partnerships may include relationships with individuals, organizations, coalitions, associations and/or communities. For a list of existing partnerships, please visit the Engagement Database


Just a few examples of community engagement are provided below:


In Spring 2018, freshmen engineering students and sophomore music education students participated in an interdisciplinary project to imagine, design and adapt musical instruments for seven students at Stone Spring Elementary School in Harrisonburg with varying physical and cognitive disabilities. In February 2018, the elementary-school students visited JMU for STEAM—STEM plus the arts—Day, spending time with the music education students and playing different instruments. During subsequent visits to Stone Spring, the music education students observed their clients, assessing their interests, goals, needs and abilities.

Purple Goes to Page

With Purple Goes to Page, JMU students from a variety of majors and disciplines have unique opportunities to gain insight into services and possible careers in a rural community. Students are partnered with at-risk elementary students as a caring mentor seeking to improve school attendance, classroom behavior and performance, social skills, and relationship building. Some students also make home visits with staff to better understand the challenges and environments in which children live.


JMU provides engaging K-12 youth outreach programs and camps through various departments. UREC offers Camp UREC and UREC Adventure Camps. Professional and Continuing Education offers the Arboretum Explorer Camp, Robotics Camp and Space Explorers Camp, among others. UREC also offers Kids' Night Out, which is an opportunity for children ages 5-12 come to UREC to play, climb, swim and interact with other children and enjoy a pizza party.

Muhlenberg Brass Festival

The Muhlenberg Brass Festival is an annual classical music festival at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg. This free event is open to the community. The first annual festival (2018) marked the debut performance of The Virginia Brass Consort (VBC). The VBC is an ensemble comprised of music professors from JMU and Bridgewater College. It was formed for two reasons. First, to provide professional-level classical, brass music for free to the Harrisonburg/Rockingham community and public schools through outreach concerts. Second, to provide a means for music faculty to collaborate across disciplines and universities in the greater Rockingham county community. Future concerts hope to incorporate theater, dance and poetry in interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts.

Walk for Hope

JMU’s Counseling Center partners with local colleges and universities (e.g. Blue Ridge Community College, Bridgewater College and Eastern Mennonite University) to offer Walk for Hope. This free community event encourages students, faculty, staff and community members to come out to raise awareness about depression and suicide. The day includes a 1-2 mile walk, a speaker discussing mental health topics, creative arts activities, mental health resources and food. The event demonstrates the power of hope and exemplifies the amount of support available when the community comes together.

The Big Event

The Big Event is a university-wide day of community service locally in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Through service-oriented activities, The Big Event promotes campus and community unity as students come together for one day to express their gratitude for the support from the surrounding community.

Gardening Partnerships

JMU Geographic Science professor Amy Goodall and her students form gardening partnerships with local Harrisonburg elementary schools. Goodall’s students work with the elementary students, introducing them to gardening and teaching them about healthy eating, plants, soils, insects and all that goes into caring for a garden. The JMU students also do work and research in the gardens for their capstone projects in biogeography. They create information sets for the elementary teachers about the garden.

Alternative Breaks

Alternative breaks challenge students to critically think and react to problems faced by members of the communities they are involved with. Being immersed in diverse environments enables participants to experience, discuss and understand social issues in a significant way. At JMU, we acknowledge and celebrate the overlap between specific areas of engagement. Alternative breaks are an example of both engaged learning and community engagement.

JMU-RMH Collaborative

The JMU-RMH Collaborative was launched in 2007 to provide a framework to foster innovation between Rockingham Memorial Hospital and JMU to facilitate ideas for collaborative projects.

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