Bristol Community College

Bristol Community College

Community Partner Guide

The purposes of this guide are

·   to explain what the Civic Engagement Program at Bristol Community College (BCC) involves,

·   to explain the benefits to participating non-profit agencies or organizations and students,

·   to encourage your non-profit agency or organization to become a BCC Civic Engagement community partner, and

·   to collect detailed information about Civic Engagement service placements that are available to our students for our interactive community partner selection database for use by faculty and students.

What is Civic Engagement?

Civic Engagement (CE) is when a student performs a minimum of 10 unpaid hours of community service for a nonprofit organization that meets a real need in the community over the course of one semester and document it with the CE Program.

There are 2 different options for Civic Engagement at BCC:

Service-Learning:  The student works with a professor to connect the 10 hours of service to a specific course and submits a reflection assignment to his or her professor about the service he or she performed. The student’s service for the course will be noted on his or her academic transcript.

Community Service: The student performs a minimum of 10 hours of service individually in a community placement he or she chooses or participates in a group service project with a club.

How Are Service-Learning Placements Arranged and Supervised?

Service-learning can be offered as an option that an individual student can select or an assignment for all students in a course, if the instructor feels that this is appropriate. For example, students in English classes might act as tutors for middle school students or help them conduct library research using a computer. Students in Reading classes might act as reading tutors for middle school students or for adults learning to read English. Students in a baking class might demonstrate their skill and teach children how to follow a recipe at a career day program. Group activities can be arranged by the community partner, the faculty member or the Civic Engagement Coordinator.

The agency or organization that an individual student serves and from which he or she learns will be determined by community need and, when options exist, the student’s preference. The student makes arrangements with the agency or organization for an interview at which the supervisor explains any prerequisite background checks or training as well as the work the student will be asked to perform. If both parties agree to make a commitment, they fill out a BCC Individual Student Pre-Service-Learning Placement Contract form that is then signed by the onsite supervisor, the student and the BCC faculty member who is teaching the course for which the service-learning is being done. The onsite supervisor monitors the student’s progress in this work activity and, before the end of the semester, signs a BCC Service Timesheet form to confirm that the student has satisfactorily completed the required ten hours of unpaid community service.

How Does the Student Relate the “Hands-On” Experience With Course Work?

To develop the student’s academic understanding and personal growth that result from this service-learning experience, he or she must also complete a reflection activity (or activities), as determined by the instructor of the course, relating the service-learning experience to the course material. The purposes of the reflection activity are to encourage the student to document his or her volunteer work experiences and lessons learned as well as to serve as a guide for helping the student to intellectually connect his or her “hands on” experiences to some aspect of the conceptual course material. For example, a student in a Child Development Psychology course who is serving as a tutor for an elementary school child might be required to write a research report and give a class presentation showing how his or her volunteer work experiences are related to a psychological theory and scholarly literature about how children process and learn new information. The instructor of the course designs and supervises the student’s progress in this reflection activity.

Advantages to Students?

BCC provides the notation “Service-Learning Component” on the student’s transcript beneath the title of each course for which he or she successfully completes a service-learning project and documents it with the Civic Engagement Program. This volunteer work experience and notation enhance the student’s credibility as an actively engaged learner and marketability both to transfer institutions and employers. Service-Learning also encourages dedication and commitment of the student to his or her community. BCC recognizes the contributions of students who successfully complete a service-learning project with a Service-Learning Certificate of Accomplishment. We also have seminars on Community Service Leadership and Global Leadership that are part of the requirements for a Global Leadership Certificate of Accomplishment that is awarded at Commencement.

Advantages to Community Partners?

The opportunity to select a service-learning option is only offered to individual students who are in good academic standing. Because service-learning is optional, it attracts motivated, high achieving students who take their education, career goals, and commitment to community service seriously. It draws students who want to gain “hands-on” experience that will enable them to better understand and learn how to intellectually connect and apply their abstract theoretical course material to address “real world” problems.

  • Choose from a pool of pre-screened high achieving college students who bring their classroom knowledge and skills to your agency, or organization
  • Gain a flexible source of motivated and competent entry-level workers who meet your qualifications and have volunteered to perform the needed services at no cost to your non-profit agency or organization
  • Play an active role in educating future citizens who takes back to the classroom the knowledge and skills they learn from the “real world” experience
  • Help foster a sense of commitment to community service in future citizens
  • Post available service-learning volunteer placement positions online at and in our interactive database for use by faculty and students

How Can Your Agency Or Organization Become A Civic Engagement Community Partner?

Since 2000, BCC has partnered with local non-profit agencies and organizations in the greater BCC area to provide them with students who are committed to performing service-learning that is related to the their college coursework or co-community service. Our community partners have included a variety of non-profit agencies and organizations such as: local schools, the YMCA, hospitals, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, women’s resource centers, a social group for mentally retarded adults, soup kitchens, the BOLD Coalition, the Coalition Against Poverty, and the Coalition for Social Justice.

At present, BCC is developing a service-learning database that will eventually allow faculty and students to view the details concerning available group and individual placement options and choose the one(s) that is (are) related to the course content as well as faculty and student preferences. If you would like to become (or continue to be) a BCC service-learning community partner starting in the Spring of 2013 semester, please fill out and submit the online community partner application form that is available on our website at

If you have any questions about our Civic Engagement Program, please contact the program coordinator in your area.

Attleboro: Rebecca Clark, 136, x 3458 or

Fall River: Jennifer Boulay, L117, x 2853 or

New Bedford: Robyn Worthington at

Thank you for considering offering BCC students the opportunity to do a service-learning or community service project at your non-profit agency or organization.


Dr. Mary Zahm

Dr. Mary Zahm, Professor of Psychology and Director of Civic Engagement

508.678.2811 ext. 2579 or