1. Establishing Partnership Goals
  2. Engaging Partners Through a Research Broker
  3. Identifying Partnerships
  4. Approaching Partnerships

Establishing Partnership Goals

What do we want to accomplish and how does this fit with our overall mission and vision?

Conduct a needs assessment or an asset map to determine what gaps you want to fill before determining if a partnership is right for you. Meet with a consultant to brainstorm if your needs are well-suited to a research partnership.


Background on partnerships

Needs assessment templates

Participatory asset mapping

Engaging Partners Through a Research Broker

Do we want help to negotiate and engage with the university, and how will we know who can help link us to research partners?

If you don’t have a working relationship with a university faculty member a broker can help you determine how and when to approach one. A broker can act like a translator to help you better understand where the university faculty and other research partners are coming from and to make sure you’re on the same page. There are brokering agencies, individual brokers and brokering tools online. Brokers promote equity within the research partnership by helping partners to share resources and mediate conflict.

Some brokers are based in the community while others work out of a specific university. Brokering agencies that are intuition-based sometimes have community members who help to connect with resources outside the university. However, institution-based brokers tend to have a deeper understanding of the partnership opportunities of their particular institution while community-based brokers have a broad understanding of partnering across many institutions.


Report on brokering with list of broker agencies and tools including websites and contact information

Plain language podcast summary of brokering report

Identifying Partnerships

Who would be a good fit with our needs and interests? How will we work with them and how will we know that an academic partner is truly community-first?

Use your network, a broker, and/or internet searches to identify a community-first academic partner/institution. Academic partners to target could be ones who have published, presented, or taught courses in line with a community-first approach, are associated with community organizations, or have a history of working in the community or doing community-based research. Universities to target are ones that have research offices with a community focus or a community arm, a strong community service learning component, or host community-focused conferences.


Ensuring Community Comes First: Actions for Community Campus Engagement Practitioners

Involving Key Influentials in Your Initiative

Approaching Partnerships

How will we contact a research partner, and what do we say in the initial contact? Do we know what to expect from our communications with academic partners?

Depending on the academic partner, your prior relationship, and your network, contacting the university partner could use different approaches. For example, you might want to send an email, approach them at an event, message them on social media, or ask a mutual acquaintance to introduce you.

Determining how to approach the partner will be based on the contexts of your relationship and the work you want to do, but effective ways of approaching them are also determined by understanding who they are and what might be a persuasive way to get their attention.


Top tips for approaching a community campus engagement relationship

Matrix – convening a multi-sectoral effort to realize a bold community vision

Example of facilitators guide to kitchen table conversations

What to do when researchers come knocking

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