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Inland Northwest Service-Learning Partnership (INSLP)

INSLP (Inland Northwest Service-Learning Partnership) is an intercollegiate collaborative resource designed by and for the faculty, staff, students, and community agencies in service-learning partnerships. INSLP is supported by Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, Spokane Community College, Spokane Falls Community College, Spokane Public Schools, Washington State University (Spokane) and Whitworth University. University directors on community engagement meet monthly with volunteer directors from community agencies and local school districts to support ongoing initiatives and identify new areas for collaboration. Key initiatives include: the annual Community Engagement Institute conference bringing university and non-profit groups together to create social change; the development of a Common Partnership program to recognize and increase support for non-profit agencies in close partnership with universities, the annual, community-partner awards program, and collaboration in support of days of service and other regional or national events.

INSLP offers a number of services to agencies in Spokane that use service-learning students as volunteers. The partnership organizes trainings and professional development opportunities for community partners as well as faculty and staff. INSLP has also worked to standardize service-learning paperwork across Spokane colleges and universities, so that agencies have a common experience working with students from any institution.

INSLP ContactsPhone Number
Eastern Washington University Office of Community Engagement 509.359.2792
Gonzaga University Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning 509.313.6824
Spokane Falls Community College Center for Service-Learning 509.533.3522 x24-123
Washington State University-Spokane Student Affairs 509.358.7978
Whitworth University Center for Community Engagement 509.777.4279
  • 1. What is the Common Partnership Initiative?

    With the common partnership initiative, INSLP will create a method to form, assess and categorize differing levels of partnerships between higher education institutions and non-profits/governmental organizations. This partnership would improve the ties between the groups, enhance the experience of college volunteers in the community and help to manage risk in the exchange of volunteers.

    Description

    Through this initiative, INSLP will create a model and process for forming Service-Learning partnerships that would separate partnerships into differing tiers with varying levels of responsibilities and benefits for both parties involved. Ideally, the partnership levels would be standardized across all institutions for ease and consistency.

    Needs Addressed

    • Students have differing educational needs depending on their level of engagement (volunteerism, service learning, service internships, etc.). A tiered approach helps match agency needs with appropriate learning objectives
    • Higher education institutions are under increased pressure to ensure the safety and well-being of their students by mitigating risk, even at off campus locations. Creating consistent and documented procedures for assessing the safety of partnerships will help address this need.
    • Non-profit agencies must often work through different systems to form and maintain partnerships with universities. This process could help standardize a process and reduce work.
    • Creating clear expectations and commitments between agencies and institutions should increase the quality of the experience for everyone involved.
  • 2. What is the Community Engagement Institute?

    In the fall 2013, INSLP members coordinated a regional conference that provided a forum to encourage innovation, develop cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional partnerships, and examine more deeply the role of higher education in engaging with our local community to respond to critical issues. The institute brought together faculty, staff and community representatives throughout the region to discuss service-learning pedagogy, share promising practices and discuss the ways in which institutions may become better able to seek solutions to complex challenges facing our local community. Applying Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), partner institutions leveraged individual resources to implement a successful program that could easily be replicated by campuses across the nation.

    Rationale

    In order to provide a regional training on community-based learning best practices and innovations, we realized that a strong collaboration between all of the local institutions would be the key to success. Using an asset-based approach, we examined each institution’s available resources and area experts. Institutions contributed a variety of resources ranging from faculty development funds to facility space to host the event. This resulted in an event that brought together 85+ staff, faculty, students and community partners in the first year with 50% growth in the second year. Attendees discussed promising practices, local initiatives and the ways our institutions might partner with the community to impact positive change.

    Impacts

    • new campus-community partnerships
    • an increased awareness of community needs and initiatives among faculty and staff at area universities
    • an increased awareness of Community Engaged Scholarship as an element of faculty scholarship
    • growth in action-based research projects
    • development of a faculty-led peer review board for future conference meetings
    • strengthened partnerships between institutions
  • 3. What is Spokane Gives Week?

    INSLP also partners with the United Way and the Mayor of Spokane's Office to support an annual program called "Spokane Gives" week. This event is a weeklong effort to raise awareness in the city about volunteerism and altruism by providing visible service opportunities and measuring local impact. The United Way organizes service events and documents hours through its website in support of the mayor's office. INSLP, in partnership with the United Way, brings university students, faculty and staff to targeted service events, collects data on service hours/impact and shares that data with the United Way. The result is enhanced participation in a city-wide effort to make service visible in the community.

    INSLP's work with "Spokane Gives" week is modeled on its collaboration around annual service events such as MLK Day and Patriot's Day. For these events, community partners who attend INSLP meetings collaborate to create specific service sites that support university students, faculty and staff. The result is increased participation by university groups and sustained partnerships at participating sites.