Holyoke Campus Community Compact

Preamble to the Holyoke Campus-Community Compact

The purpose of this compact is to articulate key principles to provide guidelines for the construction and maintenance of campus-community partnerships that lead to productive and mutually-beneficial relationships. This compact aims to guide signatories in developing and implementing strategies and action plans that represent the most sustainable, ethical, and reciprocal practices in a campus-community partnership. This document is intended to be a living document to evolve through the learning and input of the compact partners over time.

This document came out of a year-long process of campus-community forums to explore the challenges and best practices of the relationship between the area institutions of Higher Learning and Community Organizations and residents in Holyoke. The forums included Directors and Staff of Community Based Organizations, community leaders, youth and residents of Holyoke, representative of the City of Holyoke and College faculty, staff, administrators and students. There were five community forums. The outcome was twenty seven principles, guidelines and action steps that the participants all agreed on. The Campus-Community Compact condenses these down to five Key Principles, each with some clarifying guidelines.

Statement of Principle 1

We seek to ensure that campus-community collaborations reap reciprocal benefits for participating partners.

  • Every campus community partnership will strive to produce concrete results and, when possible, lasting change on issues that are identified by community participants in the partnership. Campuses will do their work in ways that build the capacity of community leaders.
  • At the outset the partners will establish clear, mutually agreed upon ground rules and expectations. All parties will be honest about their interests, intentions and motives. Ideally partners will develop a written contract that details the roles of each party in the partnership, describes intended outcomes and specifies a process for evaluation both along the way and at the end of the project. Proposed outcomes will be realistic so that false hopes are not created.
  • Campuses need to recognize the investment that the Community Based Organizations and residents are making in the partnership in terms of staff time, money and other resources. Campuses will also recognize and accommodate to the constraints on community resources.
  • The benefits of working together collaboratively need to outweigh the resources, costs and time put into the collaboration. There needs to be a balance over time so that both campuses and the community benefit from the relationship. Partnerships will also strive to avoid duplication of efforts to address community issues.
  • Campuses will, where appropriate, make long-term commitments to community partners and balance short-term involvements (semester-long courses and projects) with the community’s need for long-term solutions.

Statement of Principle 2

We seek to ensure that campus-community partnerships are characterized by shared respect, trust, and decision-making.

  • For campuses and community organizations to work together effectively all partners need to develop an environment of trust and mutual respect including recognition of and sensitivity to cultural, racial, class, age and gender differences.
  • Power needs to be shared between the campus and the community. There needs to be a decision making body that includes community and campus members with equal say. Particular attention will be paid to how decisions are made and resources are shared and this will include the voices of CBO Directors and staff, residents, youth and community leaders, faculty, students, and administrators.
  • Campuses and Community Based organizations need to work with the community not for the community. Colleges and community agencies will come to residents to learn from them about their community needs and resources and to decide jointly how they can work together to address those needs and utilize the resources of the academic institutions and the community.

Statement of Principle 3

We seek to ensure that campus-community partnerships define needs and clear expectations for mutual benefit.

  • It is important for both sides to be able to “tell their stories” and to do so in language that is clear and mutually accessible.
  • Community leaders need to have access to campus leaders to discuss campus and community priorities and have an opportunity to shape those priorities.
  • Partners will establish and maintain clear, consistent, and high-quality communications.

Statement of Principle 4

We seek to ensure that students, faculty and staff who engage in all forms of community partnership in Holyoke are appropriately prepared, oriented, trained and supervised for such work.

  • Every campus will have a clear and publically understood process to recruit, orient and train college students that work in the community.
  • Faculty and students need to have institutional support to be able to work in community. Campuses need to build a culture and commitment to community engagement. Campuses need to take responsibility for organizing their end of the partnership so the burden does not fall on community partners

Statement of Principle 5

We seek to build capacity among community agencies, residents, and campuses, and assure sustainability of partnerships to create measurable change.

  • Benefits of working together collaboratively need to outweigh the resources, costs and time put into the collaboration. There needs to be a balance over time so that both colleges and the community benefit from the relationship. Partners will address each other’s needs in sustainable ways. Campus partners will consider CBO capacity to “educate” students.
  • Organizations need to work with the community not for the community.
  • Partners will address challenges of institutional change at campuses and among CBOs to better support campus-community partnerships.