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Project Title:Community Engaged Classrooms: Connecting Classrooms and Community to Support Civic EngagementInstitution Name:Illinois State University Innovation Category:Research and Regional Stewardship Project Director:Jennifer McDade, Coordinator of Campus and Community Outreach, Center for Teaching, Learning, and TechnologyContact Information:(309) 438-5848 , jlsilva@ilstu.eduWebsite:http://americandemocracy.illinoisstate.edu/
Project Description:Illinois State University’s Community Engaged Classrooms, a joint effort of academic and student affairs supported by the American Democracy Project committee, supports campus and community partnerships by providing necessary support and connections to develop projects that meet community needs and facilitate student and faculty involvement in civic engagement.


  • Online Partner Portal facilitates connections between faculty, students, and community partners to address community needs and solve community problems, providing assistance to develop and implement projects as well as project tracking.
  • Professional development and networking opportunities, including training, workshops, and recognition, that bring faculty, students, and community resources together to develop knowledge and skills for civic engagement and service learning.
  • Outreach to other key campus initiatives including the Civic Engagement and Responsibility Minor, Urban Teacher Education programs, and Office of Sustainability to integrate civic engagement and support community efforts. 
  • During the 2011-2012 school year, Community Engaged Classrooms will connect a minimum of 20 community partners with ISU faculty and students to partner and track civic engagement efforts and impact.
  • During the summer of 2011, Community Engaged Classrooms will support four days of workshops (identified through a survey of needs) to prepare faculty, students, and community partners for civic engagement efforts.
  • During the 2011-2012 school year, Community Engaged Classrooms with gather feedback to support student development with regard to civic engagement.  
Challenges/Problems Encountered:While this effort seeks to ease faculty’s role in civic engagement projects in the community, there are increasing demands on faculty time and ISU faculty still lack clear tenure and promotion incentives to participate in these initiatives. Additionally, community partners face decreases in state funding for key programs leaving their organizations lacking resources. Nonetheless, increased communication, flexibility, and responsiveness to needs ensure that the Community Engaged Classrooms remains a helpful support. Beyond this, ongoing communication and collaboration between student affairs and academic affairs are essential to the success of this endeavor.
Evaluation Approach:The Community Engaged Classrooms personnel partner with the American Democracy Project committee to integrate projects on campus and report on project outcomes. Providing consistent resources to meet faculty and community needs resulting in increased projects (with documented impact) demonstrates growth and success of this initiative. The coordinators of the Community Engaged Classrooms initiative collect data regarding the numbers of individuals they interact with, workshops they host, and numerous other faculty development activities. These data are reported to the Leadership Team of Illinois State’s American Democracy Project and disseminated to the Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs.
Potential for Replication:The opportunities for replication will hinge on a few key factors including the ability of the campus to build projects around expressed community needs, support for faculty including professional development, and the development of a portal (possibly online) to connect partners. The key for campuses looking to replicate this initiative lies in the ability to forge meaning partnerships between academic and student affairs as well as the university and the community.
CEO-to-CEO Contact:
Date Published: Monday, March 28, 2011