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The ACE 

A guide for decision-making and professional development planning during times of crisis.

Portals for Community Partnerships


Many colleges are deeply entwined with their local communities, and service learning and partnerships are common. Often, those relationships grow from connections between faculty and the surrounding businesses and organizations, but colleges can assist by identifying channels that make it easier for college-community collaborations to form. When colleges move more programming online, they should consider how technology can be leveraged to connect their programs to the world beyond the campus. And partnerships between public colleges and the wider community can help make crisis response more effective and impactful, and go a long way to integrating universities with the publics that support them.

Guiding Questions

As you aim to keep your students connected to their college community and demonstrate the college’s commitment to the vitality of your region, ask: “What pathways exist for academics and the public to connect around shared needs and goals?” Try as much as possible to offer simple, online architectures to open these pathways.

  • What people or offices on campus are responsible for helping community organizations connect with academic expertise?
  • What people or offices on campus support faculty in designing service learning opportunities that don’t drain precious community resources?
  • What web portals exist on campus to link students and faculty to community projects, and vice versa, and who on campus maintains those channels?
  • How are college-community collaborations documented and collected to demonstrate the value of Higher Ed to the community?
  • During a time of crisis, what common challenges and common goals does the college share with its surrounding public?

Examples & Resources

About the ACE “Institutional Level”

The ACE Framework is primarily designed for faculty who are readjusting their curriculum during times of regional, national, or global crisis. But in order for the work that faculty do with their assignments and courses to be most effective, it should be aligned with the institutional mission, which should guide policy and structural planning related to curriculum and teaching.

The institutional level of the framework is a reminder to faculty that if their adjustments at the assignment- or course-level are difficult to operationalize successfully, it could be due to larger policies and structures that are mis-aligned with the ACE Framework; advocacy may be warranted to bring the institution into alignment.

The institutional level of the framework is also a call to university policy-making committees, administrators, Boards of Trustees, and legislators that there is much work to be done to prepare university policies and structures to support students and faculty who are learning and teaching through challenging times.