The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

Ginsberg Center staff regularly meet with local community partners in the social sector (nonprofits), civic sector (government agencies) and education sector (k-12 schools) partners in Southeast Michigan. We gather and collect their community-defined priorities to share with university partners.

Our responses to the FAQs below reflect some best practices for connecting with community organizations. These practices are informed by research, as well as our numerous conversations with our partners.


How can I...


Plug into existing efforts such as one-time or short-term service opportunities?

  • Use our Connect2Community web portal to explore volunteer opportunities in southeast Michigan. This online portal keeps a real-time list of individual and group opportunities to meet community-identified needs. Connect2Community is managed by the Ginsberg Center in partnership with EMU's VISION Volunteer Center and the United Way of Washtenaw County.
  • Learn more about how to search by interests and other filters here.

Connect with local organizations for sustainable long-term relationships?

  • Meet with Ginsberg staff to explore our database of relevant opportunities that align community-defined priorities with your:
    • Teaching: topics, learning objectives, and/or discipline-specific skills
    • Research: current or potential projects for you or your students
    • Service: relevant opportunities to which you can lend your time and expertise
    • Academic Programs: content area or skills
  • Explore multiple examples of ways to connect with community-defined priorities.
  • Contact us at to set up a meeting.

Use a collective impact approach for campus-community partnerships?

  • Collaboratives that bring together university and community partners around similar community-identified needs can not only build community capacity in these areas but also give faculty and students the chance to practice skills and meet educational goals.
  • As an example, the Ginsberg Center coordinates the Community Technical Assistance Collaborative (CTAC), which focuses on data and evaluation. If you are interested in learning more about CTAC, contact us at
  • Contact us at if you would like to explore other potential collaboratives with us.


Initiate an effective campus-community partnership?

  • Be mindful that not all organizations’ timelines will match the University’s academic calendar, so reach out early enough to be able to work through scheduling challenges.
  • To find a partner through the Ginsberg Center, we recommend contacting us at least a month in advance.
  • At the first meeting, have an open conversation to discuss and establish mutually agreed upon expectations.
  • We recommend documenting in writing the expectations for a partnership.
  • Contact us at for support.

Set students up for success for establishing effective campus-community partnerships?

  • Numerous community partners have shared the challenges of working with students effectively when partners have no prior knowledge about the course or program from which students are engaging.
  • We recommend instructors first contact community partners, prior to having students initiate contact.
    • Reach out to partners prior to the start of the class or program to provide background information including course/program objectives, hours or project. requirements involving the community partner, length of requested involvement, etc.
    • Discuss with the partner how they would like to be involved.
  • If you are considering asking students to find their own opportunities as part of your class and do not plan to contact community partners in advance of students initiating contact.
    • Have students contact partners in the first 2 weeks of the semester, well in advance of when an assignment is due
    • Have students learn more about the organization prior to initiating contact
    • Provide students with a summary of the course context they can share with partners when they initiate contact, including course objectives, hours or project requirements involving the community partner
  • Help prepare students to work effectively with community partners.
    • The Community Engagement MOOC offers online training for ethical engagement.
    • The Ginsberg Center offers additional support to prepare your students:
      • We offer introductory and follow-up workshops to prepare students that can be tailored to your needs.
      • Ginsberg Center staff can also work with you to support your use of the MOOC. Contact us to set up a consultation.


Arrange transportation for students to visit community partners?

  • The University offers multiple options on their Transportation website
    • Faculty can rent vans/buses through the University.
    • Students can use UM vehicles if they have an affiliated account through a sponsored student organization account. UM does not rent to individual students.
    • Students can use their Mcards for free rides on public transportation via AATA & TheRide, in addition to UM buses. Learn more here.
    • The Detroit Connector can also be an option for students doing work in Detroit.
  • If you, as a faculty member, want to cover the cost of vehicle rentals for students, you can establish an account students could then use.

Acknowledge community partners’ contribution to my course, research or program?

  • In recognition of the significant contributions partners make to student learning, we recommend compensating community partners for their time and effort.
  • Have an open conversation with partners about how they would like to be compensated, since partners' preferences vary.
  • We recommend a range from $100-$150 for guest speakers, and suggest offering more if they are co-instructors and/or helping to inform course design.
  • Some partners prefer to not be compensated directly, but rather to have funds go directly to the organization. Other partners have mentioned preferring in-kind support such as volunteer hours from students or other forms of support.
  • The partner/organization may also need to complete a W-9 vendor form to be listed as a vendor within the UM system. To allow funds to be directed to an organization, partners can submit an invoice detailing the service provided.

Access additional funding for my community-engaged efforts?

  • The Ginsberg Center offers faculty grants for community engaged research and teaching in partnership with several other units on campus. 
  • Additional funding opportunities are also listed on the Engaged Michigan site.
  • Contact us at if you have any questions about these funding opportunities.