Service Learning Network

Establishing a Service Learning Partnership

The following steps can be helpful in developing a service-learning partnership:

-Identify community organizations whose missions align with relevant course content.  The GVSU Community Service Learning Center, as well as the Heart of West Michigan United Way, can be valuable resources in this regard.

-Gain an understanding of these organizations' mission, vision, and values, as well as the populations they serve, the services they provide, their general staffing patterns and organizational structure, their funding sources, and their current initiatives and objectives. 

-Think about how a service learning partnership could be beneficial to the organization's ability to accomplish its goals.  Whether through direct or indirect service, capacity building, or education and advocacy within the community, it is important to be able to articulate why investing time and resources in a service learning partnership will be beneficial to the organization's core functions.

-Reach out to the organization to communicate your interest in partnering for service learning.  Convey that you have researched the organization and have a genuine understanding of its goals, initiatives, and challenges.  Articulate the relationship between the organization's mission and the objectives and learning outcomes of the potential course.  Explain how you believe the partnership could benefit the various stakeholders (students, the organization, faculty and staff members, the institution, the community).

-If the organization is receptive to partnering, discuss how many service learning students would be most helpful, the optimal timing and duration of their involvement, the kinds of tasks they will complete, the learning outcomes that will result from their service, and the training, orientation, supervision, and support students will receive while serving

-When consensus has been reached in principle regarding these and other issues, it is important to secure a written partnership agreement.  A template for such an agreement is available on this website.  For assistance with customizing the agreement for your course please contact the Community Service Learning Center.

Page last modified February 21, 2014