The Office of Civic Engagement aims to serve as a bridge between the SU campus and Georgetown’s organizations. Our goal is to support Southwestern students, staff and faculty in developing meaningful and sustainable partnerships with community organizations that are working to address Georgetown’s pressing issues.
Southwestern University’s Office of Civic Engagement has a strong history of partnering with a variety of local nonprofit and public agencies; we strive to maintain and improve those collaborations, while also developing new partnerships. Over 70% of Southwestern’s student population participates in some form of civic engagement. During the 2012-2013 academic year, 974 students spent nearly 40,000 hours performing co-curricular outreach as volunteers and activists.
How does the OCE work with community organizations?
The OCE establishes various types of partnership within the community. The following are examples of collaborative opportunities.
- Volunteer opportunities: Although we cannot guarantee volunteer placement, we are more than happy to use our network of students, student organizations, faculty, and staff to publicize opportunities and raise awareness about your organization’s needs. Please feel free to email us with volunteer requests.
- Extended collaborations: Our hope is that through continuous communication with local non-profits, the OCE will be able to connect SU students and student organizations with multi-visit, sustained volunteer opportunities identified by the community.
- Community-Engaged Learning: An element of the SU curriculum, the OCE aims to identify long-term partnerships of mutual benefit. These involve regular brainstorming meetings between community organizations, faculty and students as we work together to identify community needs that are also connected to the curriculum.
Characteristics Of Good Partnerships
- form to serve a specific purpose and may take on new goals over time.
- have agreed upon mission, values, goals, measurable outcomes and accountability for the partnership.
- have relationships characterized by mutual trust, respect, genuineness, and commitment.
- build upon identified strengths and assets, but also work to address needs and increase capacity of all partners.
- balance power among partners and enable resources among partners to be shared.
- make clear and open communication an ongoing priority by striving to understand each other’s needs and self-interests, and developing a common language.
- encourage feedback among all stakeholders in the partnership, with the goal of continuously improving the partnership and its outcomes.
- share the benefits of the partnership’s accomplishments.
- can dissolve and need to plan a process for closure.
- have principles and processes that are established with the input and agreement of all partners, especially for decision-making and conflict resolution.
Recruiting College Volunteers
- Keep the OCE updated about new opportunities.
- Give plenty of lead time for organizing groups of student volunteers (1 month+).
- Work with the OCE to target certain student populations.
- Meet with identified organizations / classes to tell your story.
- Use current SU volunteers / interns as ambassadors for your nonprofit!
- “Table” in the Concourse.
Top 10 Ways to Engage College Volunteers
- Remember the reality of changing schedules, too many obligations, and school holidays. Consistency isn’t always possible, even for the most responsible of students!
- Be as (reasonably) flexible as possible. Looking for students for 9 to 5, M-F can be hit or miss!
- Provide thorough orientation and training. Be honest about expectations.
- Provide supportive structure for volunteers’ service blocks & reflection.
- Communicate with the OCE about any issues or need for support.
- Establish buy-in (educational, professional, creative, emotional).
- Create meaningful projects rather than administrative or “busy-work” tasks.
- Encourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
- Share your own passion for the work you do!
- Explain the “BIG PICTURE” of why your (& their) work matters.