Higher Education and Community Organization Partnerships in Iowa are Prolific, Vital

March 13, 2019

Contact: Emily Shields

For immediate release (Des Moines, IA): Nearly all nonprofit organizations in Iowa have at least one partnership with a college or university, often partnering with more than one. This is among the findings of a study released today by Iowa Campus Compact, a statewide coalition of colleges and universities committed to educating students for engaged citizenship and creating community-campus collaborations.

The study, funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service and led by researcher Dr. Kara Trebil-Smith, found that most of these partnerships center on student opportunities including class projects, individual student experiences such as internships, and group student organization volunteerism. Community organizations often receive unique expertise and skills from these students or the faculty and staff working with them. In return, students and higher education institutions receive enhanced education through the real-world, skill-building experiences that these organizations provide.

“These types of partnerships are often seen as sporadic and based on individual initiative,” said Iowa Campus Compact Executive Director Emily Shields. “Yet, as this study demonstrates they are prolific and central to the operations of nonprofits and the education of students.”

While the study found that there are many success stories, the findings also highlighted challenges and recommended changes that could lead to even greater impacts on organizations, students, and higher education institutions. The recommendations are meant to help both community organizations and higher education institutions consider new approaches including focusing on a smaller number of high-quality partnerships, making navigating partnerships easier, better preparing students for experiences, and providing more professional development and partnership infrastructure.

The study findings also suggest that there is ample opportunity in the state for partnerships to grow in other areas of higher education work, including community-based research opportunities. Throughout the study, Iowa Campus Compact details how the findings and recommendations will inform the ways in which the organization supports both member higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations.

More information and download the complete study.

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