Mission Of Civic Engagement with the CCCE

The Center for Community & Civic Engagement creates and sustains opportunities for meaningful engagement for the Carleton community to deepen learning, broaden knowledge, and develop reciprocal relationships locally, nationally, and globally. Through thoughtful action, analysis, and reflection, the Center promotes integration of engagement with the College’s deep commitments to student development, teaching, learning, and scholarship.

Learning Objectives

  • Understanding issues in their real world complexity
  • Recognizing and honoring different forms of knowledge that may reside in/with community partners
  • Awareness of your positionality, or who you are as you seek to do civic engagement efforts (such as gender, race, and/or socioeconomic background)
  • Doing — how can you take your course content and do something with it beyond the classroom while learning in the process
  • Developing leadership skills
  • Nurturing a commitment to life-long civic engagement

6 Tenets of Community Institution Collaboration

Trust – the foundation from which all else flows. Usually it’s about trust that the work done together places the community’s needs and benefits first.

Mutual Respect – respect for the expertise that all partners bring to the table. Respect for diverse ways of knowing, such as cultural viewpoints and beliefs about how we know what we know.

Mutual Benefit – each stakeholder should be able to define that benefit they (or their organization or their sector) needs, or received. One partner should not define for the other what the benefits will be or what benefits the others received.

Shared Power – true reciprocity. Sharing power requires and facilitates the full participation of all partners in decision-making and governance. This might also include sharing the money because sometimes money represents power, or provides access to power.

Shared Knowledge – this has several connotations. 1) There are different ‘ways of knowing’ or different knowledge systems, all to be equitably valued 2) the idea that partners are co-generating knowledge, and 3) that the knowledge that comes out of the collaboration is co-owned by the partnership.

Reflection – Co-learning or co-creating new knowledge is a reflective process and those who
engage with it need to be reflective practitioners. A stance of co-learning, examining missteps, making Iterative improvements are all examples of reflective practice.

Adapted from Susan Gust and Cathy Jordan

What the CCCE Mission/Vision and 6-Tenets Can Look Like in Practice



  • Think about how best to communicate
  • Schedules may differ
  • Establish expectations early on
  • Be culturally sensitive

Engagement tip

  • Which is most effective and appropriate? Phone, email, text?
  • Not everyone checks emails after 5 p.m. or on Sat./Sun.
  • Discuss project deadlines and relationship with the program
  • Know the group you work with

Communicate early … Our organization runs on volunteers to when one doesn’t show, it makes the day a bit more interesting



  • Ask about and wear appropriate dress
  • Consider your environment
  • Maintain good hygiene
  • Be self-aware

Engagement tip

  • Be aware of school dress codes, manual labor, outdoor programs
  • Wear clean clothes
  • Examine your thoughts/feelings, how you relate to the world

Self-awareness is the most important advice I could give to a volunteer.

Preparedness and Timeliness


  • Research program in advance
  • Show up ready to work
  • Be on time (or early!)
  • Think ahead
  • Be flexible

Engagement tip:

  • Go online, talk to past volunteers
  • Have a clear idea of role and tasks
  • It’s best to be 5 – 10 minutes early
  • Cancel 24 hours in advance minimum
  • Remind community partners about 10-week term schedule
  • Problem seeking vs. solving

It would be helpful if the volunteers occasionally had a planned craft/project ready… just in case of inclement weather or unavailability of our large play area.



  • Give a lot of thought to your limitations
  • Plan ahead according to your academic commitments
  • Assess your impact and effectiveness

Engagement tip:

  • Start with low commitment and build up — you’re not a superhero!
  • No big projects during midterms or tenth week
  • You impact others if you fall through

I’ve found students to be enthusiastic but unable to follow through with their commitment which makes it much more difficult on my end.



  • Be confident in your abilities
  • But still be humble
  • Build relationships
  • Have fun!

Engagement tip:

  • Don’t be abrasive
  • Even Carls have more to learn
  • Service is mutually beneficial

Thanks for working with us, we love working with you!

Solidarity, Not Charity


  • Something you give to those ‘less fortunate than yourself’. 
  • It is top down vertical work.
  • Fundamentally good and beneficial, charity stems from moral obligations for giving, sharing, and generosity.
  • The historical approach that our social welfare systems have been built on, it gets food into mouths and clothes onto bodies.
  • Charity can be beautiful but it also creates a deep divide between “us” and “them”, those that “have” and those that “need”.
  • Acts of charity are often dependent on an external evaluation of who is deemed worthy or unworthy, who is judged as deserving and who is not.
  • Charity is often focused on the giver feeling generous and the receiver feeling grateful. Charity does not take systemic inequities into consideration. Charity alone will never address the root causes of injustice.
  • Charity has the potential to create a hierarchical structure of thinking – between the giver and the receiver. Has there been a time in your life when you were the receiver? What did it feel like?
  • Charity is coming at the problem thinking you have the solution – engaging as the teacher or solver


  • Shoulder to Shoulder work, together, linked and equal.
  • The recognition that we truly are in this together, all of our experiences and successes and struggles are intrinsically tied together. 
  • Solidarity goes beyond charity, it is not a one-directional top-down perspective, solidarity means locating ourselves within the consciousness of each other
  • The recognition that all relationships and power dynamics are multi-directional and acknowledges that everyone has wisdom and resources to collaboratively solve problems.
  • Solidarity means that I understand how your struggle is tied to my struggle, and how your success is tied to my success.
  • Solidarity means I am part of the problem just like I need to be a part of the solution. Solidarity means doing the hard work of being humble and vulnerable.
  • Have you had situations in which you solved a problem in collaboration with someone else – rather than them giving you the answer? What did that feel like?
  • Solidarity is listening and being an engaged learner rather than the teacher

Charity is not always easy – to share our time and resources with others without expecting anything in return. Solidarity can be even harder, it means ENGAGING with others in the process in order to strengthen relationships to promote well-being for ALL. It can mean loss of control over HOW the work is done, going outside our personal comfort zone to CONNECT and COLLABORATE, admitting we don’t have the right solutions, and maybe even that we don’t know where to start. 

Shared and Adapted from the CAC

Strengths-Based Approach

The strengths-based approach focuses on individuals’ strengths, desires, interests, experience, talents, knowledge, and resiliency, rather than on deficits, weaknesses, or problems. It recognizes that strengths can be found within the person themselves, their environment, connections, and community. Strengths-based practice asks us to acknowledge that every individual has a unique set of strengths, talents, expertise, and abilities that they can rely on to overcome challenges. It places decision-making power with the individual, not with external perceptions of what someone “should” do. This is power-with another, not power over another. It is collaborative and based in mutuality and partnership. It encourages us to look at what attributes have helped to facilitate success in the past and utilize those same strengths moving forward.

Strengths based approach 7 key principles: (1) Transparency; (2) Social Justice; (3) Collaborative Partnerships; (4) Focus on Strengths and Capabilities; (5) Self-determination by the Community; (6) Respect; (7) 'Power with' not 'Power over'

The strengths-based approach is founded on 7 key principles: A Strengths Approach to Mental Health, Venkat Rao Pulla and Abraham Francis, January 2015