Resources for Community Partners

USF community members posing in McCarthy Center

Community Partnership Model

At USF, community-engaged learning happens in the context of mutually beneficial partnerships between USF faculty members and community partners. “Community partner” is a broad term that may include nonprofit and government staff, community organizers and leaders, artists and activists, or other individuals engaging in the mentorship of students while they are in the community.

USF partnerships are rooted in the concept of “reciprocity,” meaning that faculty, students, and community partners all contribute to the success of the partnership and should equitably benefit from the outcomes. The community partner has the agency to identify the most pressing priorities, expectations, and needs of the host organization and the community they serve, and determine the best ways that students can contribute to community-identified priorities and needs. Community partners act as co-educators who bring their own wisdom and experience to nurture student learning and development.

Become a Community Partner

If you are interested in exploring ways to collaborate with USF students and faculty through community-engaged learning, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting and/or site visit. We welcome the opportunity to learn about your organization’s programming areas, service projects, and activities that may align with community-engaged courses. Please email Star Plaxton-Moore at and Jackie Ramos at to learn more and/or arrange a meeting.

Community Partner Co-Educator Fellowship

We invite you to join a learning community of nonprofit staff, service providers, public servants, activists, artists, and other local change agents facilitated by the McCarthy Center at USF. The goals of the Community Partner Co-Educator (CPCE) Fellowship are to:

  • Achieve more equitable relationships between USF and our community partners.
  • Integrate community wisdom into decision-making and actions at the McCarthy Center.
  • Maximize student learning about, with, and from community.
  • Support community partners in working with USF students to address their organization’s priorities and needs.

The CPCE Fellowship meets for six two-hour sessions over the course of consecutive weeks beginning in March each year. Participants receive up to $600 for participation in the sessions, submission of a letter of support from executive director or equivalent, and completion of culminating assignments. If you would like to participate in this opportunity to connect with community peers, share your expertise, and build your understanding of how to work with USF and our students, please email Star Plaxton-Moore at and Jackie Ramos at


Joshua Chan ’23

As part of a nonprofit that works closely with CEL learners as volunteers, the CPCE Fellowship was an awesome experience. I learned a lot about utilizing community-engaged learners even further, participated in a wonderful community of like-minded nonprofit partners, and gained valuable resources to strengthen community engaged learning. I highly recommend the CPCE Fellowship to anyone who works with the Leo T. McCarthy Center in any fashion."

Joshua Chan ’23
Community Partner Co-Educator Fellow, Volunteer Coordinator, Community Tech Network

Read the Story

To read reflections from our CPCE Fellows ‘23 on their perspectives of community-engaged learners/student volunteers, please see here.

Community Partner Awards and Recognitions

The McCarthy Center honors community partners annually at its Friendraiser/Gala and Year End Celebration with awards for excellence in partnership with USF. Past award recipients have included:

Additionally, the McCarthy Center hosts fellowship building celebrations throughout the year and highlights community partners in its publications, the McCarthy Center blog, and USF media outlets.

Read more about our community-campus partnerships here.