Building Community Partnerships

Costs of Partnerships to Community Group

  1. Additional work and supervision
  2. Use of staff resources for non-funded or billable work
  3. Time lost that could be spent with other constituencies
  4. Loss of organizational identity and privacy
  5. Lack of parity--not being treated as experts

Benefits of Partnership to Community Group

  1. Advancement of the mission
  2. New perspectives and insights
  3. Access to campus knowledge and resources
  4. Grant opportunities
  5. Credibility gained through collaboration
  6. Exposure to possibility of higher education

Mediating Factors

  1. Established infrastructure
  2. Administrative buy-in and support
  3. History of town/gown relationship
  4. Trust and accountability
  5. Clear goals and expectations

Indicators of Parity

  1. Partners are interested in long-term relationships to produce meaningful change
  2. Processes and staff are in place to distribute authority and funds across community and campus partners
  3. Extended alliances are in place...The campus will "step-up" when needed in other contexts
  4. Welcoming of community partners in roles usually reserved for faculty members

Indicators of Lack of Parity

  1. Campuses receive funding because of their demographic/geographic location but do not share those resources
  2. Students are offered a community as a laboratory for their own growth without making a significant impact
  3. Community needs are not fully assessed, too many students are sent on short notice, overall failure to plan
  4. Shared accountability is not fully realized, overburdening the community
  5. Campuses take a public position counter to a community's stated interest

Best Practices

  1. Allot time for relationship building
  2. Learn to talk together about inequalities and there causes with candor
  3. Identify underlying reasons for establishing partnerships--uncover hidden agendas to build trust
  4. Understand organizational contexts--explore norms, culture, traditions and values
  5. Ensure fairness in the exchange of resources
  6. Share in the role of expert
  7. Be meticulous about the details

Principles of Good Partnerships

(from "Principles of Good Community Campus Partnerships," developed by Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH), San Francisco, CA)

  1. Partners have agreed upon mission, values, goals and measurable outcomes for the partnership
  2. The relationship between partners is characterized by mutual trust, respect, genuineness and commitment
  3. The partnership builds upon identified strengths and assets, but also addresses areas that need improvement
  4. The partnership balances power among partners and enable resources among partners to be shared
  5. There is a clear, open and accessible communication between partners, making it an ongoing priority to listen to each need, develop a common language, and validate/clarify the meaning of terms
  6. Roles, norms and processes for the partnership are established with the input and agreement of all partners
  7. There is feedback to, among, and from all stakeholders in the partnership, with the goal of continuously improving the partnership and its outcomes
  8. Partners share the credit for the partnership's accomplishments
  9. Partnerships take time to develop and evolve over time

(Source of content: Liederman, Furco, Zapf and Goss, 2003, Building Partnerships with College Campuses: Community Perspectives. CAPHE Publication, The Council of Independent Colleges.)