Starting a New ACT Program
You see a need in the community that existing programs don't address and you want to create a program to meet this need. Or you've looked at all of the opportunities that we offer and they don't fit your interests. Check out this page for more information on how to start your own ACT program. The ACT staff has compiled a few things for you to consider so your interaction with the community can be as positive as possible.
Examine Current ACT Programs
First, look over the ACT website and familiarize yourself with the on-going ACT programs in your particular interest area. Is there already a program that serves a function similar to your proposed idea? If so, consider working with the pre-existing program rather than starting something new; in order to maintain on-going relationships with community partners it's crucial that we don't duplicate services.
- Assess Community Need
Before you do anything else, talk to members of the community and get a sense of whether your program idea is needed and desired. Community agencies should define for you the needs of the agency/group and you should then assess the skills, resources, and capabilities available to meet those needs. For instance, you don't want to start a tutoring program unless you find a community agency that's in need of tutoring services.
Find out about other groups, colleges, agencies, and national organizations that are implementing programs similar to the one you would like to start. Find out about logistics and try to get a sense of what works and what doesn't. The amount of research you need to do varies extremely between projects, but finding support from other experienced groups can be helpful.
Find a Community Contact
Through discussions focusing on what's needed in a community or agency, you will probably meet someone who's already involved in the community and is supportive of your idea. Talk to that person about your proposal and determine whether your plans fit their needs. On-going ACT programs need to identify a community partner.
Talk to the ACT Staff Regularly
Report on your progress and ask for assistance when you need it. The ACT Coordinator and Educational Associate have many contacts within the community and may be able to assist you with your program ideas. ACT Student Coordinators can give you information on becoming an ACT Program Director (a one-year volunteer leadership commitment), a position you'll likely assume if your idea develops into an on-going program.
Remember to think about important factors, including finding willing and committed volunteers, locating funding for the project, and finding a location. The ACT Center has more information on these topics. These details are key to success.
Thoughtful action means that the community action is valuable and meaningful to both students and community agencies. Good orientation, training and structured reflection can create a thoughtful community learning experience. Thoughtful action builds a positive, reciprocal relationship between students, community staff from the organization, and community members served.
If you have questions, need input, or would like some suggestions, talk to ACT Director Laura Riehle-Merrill (lriehlem) or Assistant Director Kelly Scheuerman (kscheuer).