A center for community-engaged teaching, research, and outreach

Mission & vision

Our mission

The Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (“the CommNS”) is a university-based center for community-engaged teaching, research, and outreach focused on advancing the work of the civic and nonprofit sector.

Our vision

The nonprofit sector, community and mission-based efforts, and civil society are more resilient, effective, and just, fostering systems and communities that support well-being for all.

What we do


We teach change agents at every stage in their careers, equipping them to create positive impacts in their community and work.

The CommNS supports a range of programs, courses, and certificates through the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology.


We ask and answer important questions about how to advance the work of civil society and purpose-driven organizations.

The Co-Create team offers an array of engaged research and evaluation services for community, nonprofit, and academic partners.


We help organizations do their work better by building networks for action, making connections, and hosting learning opportunities.

The CommNS coordinates the Civic Health of Wisconsin initiative, the Wisconsin Nonprofit Resources Group, a biennial conference, and many other learning and networking opportunities.


The CommNS team is engaged in an IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) learning, assessment, and action process, on an ongoing basis. This effort has been facilitated by Kelvin Alfaro of the UW-Madison Office of Strategic Consulting, and is maintained by all CommNS teams with special leadership from our CommNS IDEA Committee. For more information about our IDEA process, please contact Mikala Wong at mgwong4@wisc.edu.

CommNS on campus

The CommNS amplifies the impact of  affiliates’ work and supports students at all stages in learning through doing.

The CommNS is a Center of Excellence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Human Ecology and supports faculty, staff, and students in the field of community and nonprofit studies.

CommNS Affiliates gain access to professional development opportunities and a community of learning and practice. The CommNS also provides research dissemination support, so that affiliates can reach a broader audience for their work.

The CommNS is also part of the Community Campus Connectors (C3), a group of UW-Madison units and programs which routinely connect with community partners and advance the UW-Madison Civic Action Plan.