Tips for Finding Service Learning Partners
Finding a Partner
Finding a community partner or collaborator presents a large challenge for many service learning projects. Community partners are often the gateway to bringing your service learning project to the community. They can serve this role by suggesting projects, providing resources needed to plan and implement the project, and/or publicizing your service learning project through outreach, media, or other forms. The ideas presented below were drawn from a group discussion at the 2010 Service Learning Workshop.
- Campus community service and outreach offices or centers - Many campuses have an office or center for community outreach. These offices have a good idea of what community partners are available in the area and usually have an established relationship with these partners.
- Student groups - Student interest groups are another potential source of community partners; student groups may have partnered with community organizations in community service projects.
- Guest speakers - Bringing guest speakers into your classroom may also facilitate establishing a partnership between your classroom and a partner.
- University extension offices - State universities usually have extension offices that are involved in community outreach and services. These offices may have opportunities for service learning projects or have connections to potential partners in the community.
- Local elementary schools or high schools - Partnerships between your classroom and community elementary or high schools are excellent for getting younger students involved and excited about topics from your course. In addition, your students will gain skills in communicating with younger students and mentoring them.
- Non-profit community organizations - Non-profit community organizations are excellent partners for service learning partners. You can do a web search for potential partners in your area.
- Government agencies - Government agencies, like extension offices and non-profit groups, are strong candidates for service learning projects. Two potential benefits shared between both partners are (1) the potential for students to contribute their data to a larger database and (2) the potential for students to further network within the agency to continue to work as a volunteer or as a future employee.