Building Departmental Capacity to Support Community-Engaged Teaching

A UCLA Strategic Plan Grant Program

To achieve the UCLA Strategic Plan’s goal to deepen UCLA’s engagement with Los Angeles, the UCLA Center for Community Engagement is pleased to announce the availability of funding to academic departments to support and sustain community partnerships for impactful community-engaged teaching/learning. We seek to enhance departmental capacity to support  faculty and instructors to create meaningful and impactful community engagement in the curriculum, building on the UCLA framework for community-engaged courses.

This funding is designed to address three common challenges to community-engaged teaching:

    1. Managing Students/Site Engagement: Teaching a community-engaged course entails not only the instructional demands of any other course, but also requires prior relationship-building and attention to the quality of student-partner site interaction over the duration of the course. Instructors are better able to manage this extra work with some assistance.
    2. Partnership Development and Continuity: It takes time to develop new partnerships, as building trust and common understanding are key elements of successful partnerships. When instructors take on teaching a community-engaged course, they would ideally have the opportunity to work well in advance of the start of the quarter; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Instructors sometimes scramble to identify and secure the community partners only within the final days before a course begins. This is particularly challenging when such courses are taught by lecturers whose contracts do not start until the beginning of the quarter. These are challenging circumstances for a partnership. Additionally, there is the issue of sustaining the partnership. Individual community-engaged courses are typically taught once per year (or even less frequently), creating episodic partnerships. Instructors ask community partners to gear up to work with UCLA students and then the work wraps up at the end of the quarter. And, instructors face the challenge of re-creating the partnerships each time the course is taught. The lack of attention to sustained partnerships works poorly for both instructors and partners. Attention to sustained partnerships will improve the quality of the students’ learning experience and lead to greater opportunities for impact for the partner organizations.
    3. Lack of Time/Resources to Adequately Assess Value/Impact for Community Partner: UCLA’s framework for community-engaged courses conveys that such courses should be designed to create value for the students as learners and for the community partners. The assessment of the community-engaged learning is built into the design of the course, but understanding the value for the partnering organization is typically ignored due to the instructor’s time constraints. A commitment to create value for the partner organizations can be achieved through building the capacity to routinely assess the value/impact of the university partnerships for the community partner.

This funding program seeks to support departments to address these common challenges and take their community engagement to the next level, becoming “engaged departments.”

We invite departments that currently offer at least one community-engaged course to submit proposals that:

    • Provide support to instructors in cultivating and collaborating with community partners while preparing for and teaching community-engaged courses
    • Ensure the quality of the student experience in their work with partners
    • Support building sustained relationships with community partners
    • Enable the department to better integrate community-engaged learning within its curriculum
    • Facilitate assessment of the community partners’ perspectives of the partnerships and how they think the students’ work contributes to their ability to serve their communities

Funds may be used for various purposes that support these goals, such as:

    • Adding an additional TA to a high enrollment community-engaged course to assist with matching and managing students’ work with partner sites
    • Enabling a faculty member to hire a Graduate Student Researcher to develop new partnerships for an existing or new course
    • Hiring part-time or full-time staff to coordinate community partnerships for one or more courses (particularly useful if a department wants to integrate community-engaged learning in a high-enrollment course)
    • Expanding the responsibilities of a continuing lecturer or Student Affairs Officer to expand the department’s network of partner organizations/agencies and help manage matching students to partner sites
    • Tasking the new support person with maintaining communication with partners beyond the course, including assessing partners’ perspectives on the collaborative work and its contribution to their ability to fulfill their mission

These are just a few examples. Proposals should convey the strategy that makes sense for the individual department.



The amount of funding requested should reflect the department’s approach to meet the goals, not to exceed the cost of an FTE (for example, to support a community partnerships coordinator using the job classification of Project Policy Analyst 2). The funding will be available at the start of the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2024; all funds should be used by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2025. Departments may reapply two additional times for a total of three cycles of funding, after which point it is expected that departments will take on responsibility for ongoing funding.


Departments that currently offer at least one community-engaged course are eligible to submit proposals.

Priority for funding will be given to departments which have an interest to support multiple community-engaged courses and/or develop community-engaged learning as a core element of the curriculum. By “core element of the curriculum,” we mean that a community-engaged course provides one option for meeting a requirement of the major/program, is core to one pathway through the major/program, or is required for all students in the major/program, etc.


Proposals must be submitted by either the Department Chair, Vice Chair, or a faculty member or Continuing Lecturer who actively teaches community-engaged courses in this department.

Proposal Requirements

  1. Narrative (2-3 pages)
    • List and describe any current community-engaged courses offered by your department at the undergraduate, graduate, or professional level, and how the course(s) are positioned within the curriculum. If you anticipate adding new community-engaged courses, describe your plans and how those courses would contribute to your department’s curriculum.
    • Provide a list of the faculty and other instructors who contribute to (or plan to contribute to) community-engaged teaching in your department.
    • Identify existing community partnerships, and/or ideas for new partnerships. Please address the mutual value of these partnerships both to your students’ learning and to the work of your partner organizations.
    • Describe your plan to use this funding to support community-engaged teaching/learning in your department, including any positions (part-time or full-time; existing or new positions).
    • Discuss your department’s thinking about the place of community-engaged learning in your curriculum.
    • Provide a statement about how your department will continue to support this activity at the end of the grant period.
  2. Letter of Support from Department Chair
  3. Budget
    • Include the details for any graduate student worker positions or proposed job classification, cost of salary and benefits for any position to be funded through this initiative.

Review Process and Timeline

    • By March 1, 2024: Submit an email indicating your department’s interest in applying to the Center for Community Engagement
    • Prior to deadline: Departments are encouraged to discuss their proposal planning with staff at the UCLA Center for Community Engagement. Please contact either:
      • Shalom Staub, Assistant Dean and Executive Director
      • Doug Barrera, Associate Director for Faculty and Community Engagement
    • March 28th: Proposals due. Submit proposals to Center for Community Engagement
    • Spring Quarter: Grantees announced

Expectations for departments selected for these awards: 

    • Representatives from each funded department will attend a twice-a-year convening of departments to learn from each other’s efforts to support and sustain community partnerships and integrate community-engaged learning into the curriculum
    • Yearly progress narrative and financial report


For questions about Building Departmental Capacity for Community-Engaged Teaching, please contact either:

  • Shalom Staub, PhD., Assistant Dean and Executive Director
  • Doug Barrera, PhD., Associate Director for Faculty and Community Engagement