Community Partners - What Sustains Us

Images of Community Partners

Ashley Kelly, Homeward Bound | Erik Hernandez & Raquel Saunders, Canal Alliance Youth Scholarship Program | Carlos Garcia, Kids Club

Partnerships serve as the foundation of service-learning programs in higher education.


  • Partnerships form to serve a specific purpose and may take on new goals over time.
  • Partners have agreed upon mission, values, goals, measurable outcomes and accountability for the partnership.  The relationship between partners is characterized by mutual trust, respect, genuineness, and commitment.
  • The partnership builds upon identified strengths and assets, but also works to address issues and increase capacity of all partners.
  • The partnership balances power among partners and enables resources among partners to be shared.
  • Partners make clear and open communication an ongoing priority by striving to understand each others needs and self-interests, and developing a common language.
  • Principles and processes for the partnership are established with the input and agreement of all partners, especially for decision-making and conflict resolution.
  • There is feedback among all stakeholders in the partnership, with the goal of continuously improving the partnership and its outcomes.
  • Partners share the benefits of the partnership and accomplishments.
  • Partnerships can dissolve and need to plan a process for closure.

Adapted from the Faculty Toolkit for Service-Learning in Higher Education,. Edited by Sarena D. Seifer and Kara Connors for Learn and Serve America & National Service-Learning Clearinghouse