Community-Academic Partnerships

Since our inception, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) has been working to enable communities and academic institutions to engage each other in partnerships that balance power, share resources, and work towards systems change. In their truest form, these partnerships require time and commitment and have the power to transform the individuals and institutions involved. As such, partnerships are an effective tool in ultimately improving health in our communities.

Despite being formed with the best of intentions, however, authentic partnerships are very difficult to achieve. Whether community-academic partnerships involve service-learning, community-based participatory research or other approaches, the CCPH Principles of Good Community-Campus Partnerships are a helpful starting point or framework for discussion. The principles, developed in 1998 and revised in 2006, have informed the development of hundreds of partnerships and have been incorporated into training curricula, funding announcements and journal review criteria.

We are frequently in the position of provocateur – asking tough questions (how is your partnership equitable?) and challenging assumptions as academic institutions seek to become more community-engaged (what are your motivations and goals for engaging communities?). We identify and disseminate promising practices in community-academic partnerships by sponsoring conferences, offering awards, commissioning papers and using social media. We also provide hands-on training and technical assistance in developing, sustaining and evaluating community-academic partnerships through the CCPH Consultancy Network. If you are looking for an expert in community-academic partnerships to give a presentation, lead a workshop, or provide consultation, please contact us for more information. Typical requests include seeking guidance on developing a memorandum of understanding, conducting a workshop on partnership evaluation and facilitating a meeting on transitioning a community advisory board into a community governing board.

Much of our community-academic partnership work in recent years has been guided by the outcomes of a Community Partner Summit we convened in 2006 where experienced community partners shared legitimate concerns about their relationships with academic institutions while expressing a deep desire to mobilize institutional assets for social justice aims. We are often the only voice advocating for communities to have decision-making authority regarding policies and practices that pertain to community-academic partnerships. For example, we successfully argued for including community members on the National Advisory Panel for the Carnegie Foundation’s community engagement classification for universities and we have supported nominations of grassroots community leaders to serve on federal government advisory committees and grant peer review panels.

Visit our Resources pages for papers, reports, presentations, assessment tools and other helpful resources.