This past year the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (CommNS) has been fortunate to host AmeriCorps VISTA member Adrienne Theune as part of the Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA project. AmeriCorps VISTA members help local organizations and public agencies expand their capacity to create change by dedicating a year of full-time service with a partnering organization.
Adrienne plays a key role in UW-Madison’s Civic Action Plan by developing processes for identifying partner priorities and helping create effective systems to match partner needs with university resources.
“Learning about the Wisconsin Idea and specifically the Civic Action Plan was beneficial in a lot of ways,” says Adrienne. “It helped me understand how an institution’s commitment can be turned into strategic planning and inform the processes we put into place to best support our community. Not many campuses have a civic action plan!”
Adrienne’s work with the CommNS is helping to craft a model for mutually-beneficial and sustained partnerships between anti-poverty organizations and the university, as well as building the capacity of UW-Madison to implement those partnerships.
“Understanding the opportunities and services available can be overwhelming for community members. Therefore, it’s critical to create gateways and information that highlight opportunities. We’ve been able to partner with the Morgridge Center for Public Service and the UW South Madison Partnership to do some of that work.”
In tandem, she has been developing a community partnership intake form to help the CommNS understand the priorities of community organizations and their members and to help look for potential options for partnering as they arise.
The CommNS received a small grant to support Adrienne’s work in crafting a comprehensive picture of units on campus that do community-engaged work, and this summer she will be wrapping it up by helping develop a more formalized system to track campus community partnerships and projects.
“In my experience, documentation, reporting, and assessment can sometimes have a bad reputation, in the sense that they’re considered boring. However, in this work and through my masters program, I’ve learned their value. It reflects a narrative of the impact (or lack of impact) of projects and is crucial to keep projects sustainable.”
Best of luck to Adrienne in the fall–we will be sorry to see you go!
Sandie Thao and Alex Wells