Evaluating Community Impact

Explore resources and tools that help evaluate the impact of your community-engaged efforts on communities and your community partners. While evaluating community impact can be challenging, doing so can give us valuable feedback on both process and outcomes, helping us move towards our ideal of mutual benefit and equitable partnerships. For resources on evaluating students' community-engaged learning, visit this page

Community Impact of Service Learning

  • James, J. H., & Logan, K. (2016). Documenting the Community Impact of Service-Learning Coursework: Theoretical and Practical Considerations. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, 7(2), 17-36.

    • This article uses qualitative and quantitative analysis to document the impact of one graduate-level service-learning course, beyond the outcome of immediate partnerships. Findings suggest that a more nuanced definition of “impact” should include various forms of institutional capacity-building, as well as personal and social benefits. The article offers a comprehensive assessment to measure impact of the course and provided feedback for partners to improve ways they serve the community. 
  • Goertzen, B. J., Greenleaf, J., & Dougherty, D. (2016). Exploring the Community Impact of Service-Learning Project Teams. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, 7(2), 37-50.
    • This article explores how service-learning project teams (SLPT) impacted 16 community partners with direct experience working and supervising SLPT. The findings of this study provide insights into the impact that SLPTs had on the community through the collaborative processes and outcomes categories.  Indicators of collaborative processes include partnership building, tangible resources, strategies for awareness, agency support, team features, and the use of political influences. Outcomes of SLPT are increased awareness, engagement, agency impact, sustainability, maintaining reputations, making and sustaining partnerships, opportunities for kids/family, team benefits, improving physical environments. The practical implications of this research are to stimulate creativity and innovation for course instructors to more effectively communicate the long-term impacts of  service-learning project teams.

Community-Centered Approaches to Evaluating Community Impact

Examples from the Field


  • Agenlli, K. (2014). An Annotated Review of Scholarship: Measuring the Impact of Community-University Partnership. Virginia Commonwealth University.

    • List of articles evaluating the impact of numerous examples of campus-community partnerships compiled by VCO Division of Community Engagement 
  • Boyle, M. E., Ross, L., & Stephens, J. C. (2011). Who Has a Stake? How stakeholder processes influence partnership sustainability. Gateways, 4, 100-118. 
    • Comparative analysis of 3 actual partnerships. Identifies “who has a stake” and the salience of the stake.

Tools for Measuring Community Impact