Community Partners

A community partner is a local organization or educational institution that:

  • Has good relationships with the local community
  • Serves community-identified needs
  • Works for the common good

International service-learning programs work best when the community partner:

  • Has the capacity to host student volunteers without diverting too many resources away from their primary mission
  • Is organized and responsive in their communication
  • Is transparent about funding
  • Understands the value and challenges of working with visiting college students
  • Is open and responsive to concerns about safety and risk management
  • Works on issues that are relevant to your program’s educational focus

Finding a good community partner can be a challenge. Faculty have connected with prospective partners in a variety of ways: through research interests, personal or work-related travel, professional networks, or past study or research trips abroad. These are all good starting points.

Faculty can also consider working with a study abroad program provider. These organizations, which assist faculty with the planning and administration of custom programs, can often connect faculty with a local community and facilitate service-learning activities. WCU has contracts in place with a number of providers; a complete list can be found in the WCU Global Engagement Office’ Study Abroad Program Development Guide.  Faculty are encouraged to contact

Nora Maurer, Associate Director of Education Abroad

, for advice on which providers might be a good fit.

When selecting a community partner for your service-learning course, be sure to connect with staff from the organization to discuss their expectations, your students’ expectations, and your learning outcomes. By giving the agency an overview of what your students are studying and how it directly relates to community involvement, the community agency can assist with the learning outcomes. Talking about expectations will allow for open communication.