Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification 2020

The Carnegie Foundation describes community engagement as the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, Palo Alto College’s Community Engagement Committee – comprised of representation from across the campus – and the Community Partner Advisory Board will review this definition of community engagement, make changes as appropriate, and adopt a definition for Palo Alto College.

Carnegie Foundation Elective Community Engagement Classification

Why did we apply?

Palo Alto College has been focused on community engagement since its founding in the 1980s. This process provides an opportunity to conduct a self-study and recognize exceptional practices already in place, emerging practices, and opportunities for improvement. This process also allows us to demonstrate to our community that we are fulfilling our mission and provides an opportunity to foster institutional alignment for community-based teaching, learning, and scholarship. 

Who is involved?

Palo Alto College has developed a cross-campus committee with representatives from Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, College Services, Academic Success, Student Success, and student representatives to review and develop content for the application based on existing and emerging practices. Additionally, the Community Partner Advisory Board with representatives from community-based organizations, non-profit organizations, secondary education, and municipal agencies will also assist and inform this self-study process.

What does community engagement look like at Palo Alto College?

Community engagement at Palo Alto College is embedded within our mission, values, and strategic plan. Examples of community engagement include service learning courses, the S.H.A.R.E. Center, Early College High School, Dual Credit, National Science Foundation grant programs, and the College Connection Program. 

Process and Timeline

The Carnegie Foundation self-study process begins in Summer 2018 with content experts from the cross-campus committee providing expertise on responses to questions within four categories. These four categories are:

  1. Campus and Community Context
  2. Foundational Indicators (Institutional Assessment, Institutional Communication, Faculty and Staff)
  3. Categories of Community Engagement (Curricular Engagement, Co-Curricular Engagement, Professional Activity and Scholarship, Outreach and Partnerships)
  4. Reflection and Additional information

Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, additional opportunities for the entire campus community to understand the process, review the collective discussions of the committee, and offer feedback will be provided through Convocation, Lunch and Learn sessions, and a campus-wide survey.

After the completion of the self-study process, a subset of the campus-wide committee will attend an institute focused on the National Inventory for Institutional Infrastructure for Community Engagement (NIIICE). The committee will complete the inventory and then develop action plans to address opportunities for improvement. After the action plans have been developed, the committee will meet at least once a semester to review progress and assist with completion of the action plans. 

Click here to download a timeline (PDF).

Investments and Benefits

The Carnegie Foundation application fee is $750 to receive the designation; however, as a community college, Palo Alto College will receive a waiver on the fee. Additional investments include fees associated with Gail Robinson Consulting, which has assisted with the development of service learning courses in collaboration with faculty and has specific experience in assisting community colleges with the community engagement self-study process. All investments related to this self-study process are funded by the U.S. Department of Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Project Impacto grant, as the efforts align with the grant objectives.

The benefits of completing this process include preparing the documentation related to engagement for Palo Alto College's SACSCOC re-accreditation.The receipt of the Carnegie designation demonstrates that the College is continually assessing and improving its engagement enterprise. The Carnegie designation also provides framework for development of engagement priorities and provides an objective, third-party lens from within higher education to evaluate what is occurring at the College and how it is being assessed. The Carnegie classification provides us with an opportunity to continue to demonstrate that we are fulfilling our mission of serving our community.