These are proven ways to generate positive impacts, including by connecting with ourselves, others, schoolwork, and nature. This page outlines what such projects entail. Sections contain links to separate pages with more details about each area.

Page Contents

Click to jump to any of these sections about community engagement projects

Community Engagement Project Resources We Offer

Here/this pageTo describe the "big picture" of what CE projects can do and look like
CE project area-specific pages with links hereTo teach about CE project characteristics in greater depth
The 2022-23 pageTo explain what we're offering schools and others interested in CE projects right now
Project guides in Google Drive (screenshots, request one)To support high-quality project completion, from initial preparation to impact extension

How we recommend using them

Learn about project possibilities here, then talk to a potential advisor you know or fill out a Getting Started form so we can help more.

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Community Engagement Project Approaches

Blending academics and community engagement

We believe in doing this as much as and whenever possible. The two main ways:

  • Incorporating CE elements (concepts and at least some experience) into an academic project lasting 2 or more weeks
    • Incorporating academics (e.g., a written reflection) into a required or voluntary community service experience of any length

    Relating to other community engagement projects

    Work can build off or compliment others’ in these ways:
    Joining an effort, replicating something that's been done, tweaking an idea, or creating something new

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    Community Engagement Project Components/Steps

    Smaller projects may not include all of these. See more detailed descriptions here.

    ComponentReason to Include It
    Investigation/topic selectionTo identify an important issue with personal meaning
    Planning/preparationTo design an experience to meet specific outcome goals
    Community actionTo engage with a community or group (e.g., on site)
    DemonstrationTo apply knowledge and skills (e.g., with a presentation or by making other products)
    EvaluationTo grade products or other academic work
    Celebration and impact extensionTo maximize positive outcomes and promote more civic and community engagement
    Reflection and assessmentTo maximize learning from events and the whole process

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    Community Engagement Project Examples

    Here are a few of the many options for topics, activities, and products. Our Drive guides include an extensive list of multi-media and other product options complimenting different academic focus areas. For an expanded list see here.

    TopicService ActionProduct
    Community hungerLunch packing over school vacationMap of local nutrition and food resources
    Emotional healthLesson for younger students: responding to adversityPSA for school announcements
    JusticeParticipate in drug sentencing reform campaignLetter to the editor about recognizing prejudices
    LiteracyHolding a fundraiser for a group; reading to othersABC picture book with differently abled models (classmates)
    Physical activityHelp clean up and construct local exercise trailsEssay about project impacts on the learner and community

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    Picking a Starting Point

    To create or join a project, starting with an area of personal interest or meaning to the learner promotes engagement. Then comes adding research topics, engagement experiences, and products. We can do or advise on that. See expanded lists here.

    Possible areas of interest to build around

    ActivityBuilding, planting, cleaning up, advocating, or fundraising
    Group of peopleChildren, adolescents, advanced age, veterans, or immigrants
    TopicClimate, education, farming, justice, or poverty

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    More Information about Community Engagement Projects

    Related terms

    Civic engagementAddressing issues of public concern, along with developing knowledge and skills to do that effectively
    Extended learning opportunities(a.k.a. ELOs) Learning outside a traditional classroom, possibly focusing on or including community engagement
    Problem-focused projectWorking with community members to address an issue, typically over multiple semesters or years
    Service-learningBlending education and community service in order to meet both academic objectives and societal needs
    VolunteeringSupporting an initiative or group for its own sake

    Who benefits and how

    While many are possible, results vary, including with project duration, community partner relationship quality, activities, and use of best practices. See expanded lists here.

    Person or GroupExample Benefit(s)
    LearnersIncreased sense of self-efficacy and community connection
    EducatorsOpportunities to facilitate personally meaningful experiences
    SchoolsIncreased academic interest/engagement
    CommunitiesIncreased volunteer participation in common good initiatives

    Participant roles and challenges

    These tend to vary with grade level and project scope. See expanded lists here.

    ParticipantExample RolesExample Challenges
    LearnersPicking a topic, reflection, making products, assessmentCollaborating, communicating effectively, being leaders
    Educators/ advisorsSelecting goals/objectives, assessment, evaluationBalancing providing guidance and allowing student autonomy
    Local non-profits (when applicable)Sharing need priorities, assessmentProviding experiences that can meet academic needs

    Best practices

    Using these promotes project quality and positive outcomes for all. Our Drive-based guides include a checklist for project assessment. See an expanded list here.

    Example Best PracticeProject Area
    Project collaborators learn and view one another as equal colleagues in the process (vs. treating a group as needy)Communication/ partnership
    Learners discuss with advisor(s) and community reps any possible deviations from the plan in advance, as well as record themAction
    Involves problem solving, critical thinking, analysis, applying concepts, putting experiences in greater context, or theorizingReflection
    All involved in the project have opportunities to provide feedbackAssessment

    The current community engagement landscape

    There’s a lot going on and ideally a place for all of us to add to it. See expanded lists here.

    WHO (people and groups engaging)Non-profits, governmental agencies, churches, students, professionals, funders, school consortiums
    WHAT (types of work being one)Living assistance, professional services, education, health promotion, democratic participation
    WHY (motivations for engaging)To connect with others or nature, express ourselves, apply and build skills and knowledge, pay it forward

    Project goal examples

    These can be used along with or replaced by learning results to guide the process. See expanded lists here.

    ExampleGoal Category
    Apply course concepts/material to understand or address a community need or issueAcademic/learning content
    Work independently and with others, including by identifying, articulating, and resolving issues in academic and work settingsCareer preparedness
    Demonstrate ethical behavior in personal, academic, professional, and civic activitiesCivic learning/ development
    Demonstrate integrity and responsibility for yourself, life outcomes, and impacts on othersPersonal development
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