Tips for Preparing your Carnegie Application

GivePulse is excited to provide the platform for institutions of higher ed to apply or renew their Elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. The application cycle for the 2020 classification opened early this month. 

GivePulse is partnering with the College and University Engagement Initiative of the Swearer Center at Brown University to support campuses across the United States and beyond in preparing their applications.

Brian Halderman, our Director for Community Engagement and Success, has assisted campuses in previous application cycles. Below, he shares a few pointers for preparing your application, including collecting data and creating the narrative elements for your application. In the near future, he and the GivePulse team will share stories, updates, and important information about the Carnegie application and similar frameworks to help you assess and scale the work you do within your community.

Tips for Preparing your Carnegie Application

Build Community

Gather a committee of representatives from across campus that can help you pull together the required elements for the application. Think broadly about representation and the possibility of including individuals beyond the centers and departments doing community engagement work. For example, consider your institution’s communications, provost and president’s offices, among others, that may be able to provide strategic insights, examples, and support to the process. Identify a subgroup as a writing team and use the broader committee to review and revise your materials throughout the year.

Collect Evidence and Artifacts

In addition to qualitative examples of your institution’s collective impact, the application requires a number of quantitative data points. This is where a database like GivePulse can come in handy for institutions looking to track longitudinal impact and sustainable partnerships with the community.

If no such database exists, develop a plan with your committee to gather all of the necessary data and artifacts. This information should demonstrate reciprocity with your partnerships. They might include media coverage, reports, presentations, videos, etc.

Use Compelling Examples

You will likely collect many data and narratives from across campus. Use your committee to select the strongest and most compelling examples that demonstrate your institutional commitment to advancing the public good. Make sure you have the evidence (artifacts and data) to backup your case. A new element of this year’s application process is the opportunity for community partners to weigh in about their working relationship with the institution. In light of this addition, you will want to select your strongest and most sustainable partnerships so that you receive favorable and honest feedback.

Be Honest

The best part of the application process is that it provides the institution an opportunity to take a good, hard look in the mirror. It provides you with a tool to self-evaluate how well you are doing your work. Such reflection is always beneficial as it exposes challenges encountered and gives you a roadmap for improvement. Be honest in the application regarding your points of growth. No institution is doing their work perfectly and the review committee recognizes this reality. In fact, they will appreciate campuses being candid about their needs and their plan for improvement.

Take Action

Your committee will likely spend the better part of a year working on gathering information and writing the application. It is an investment of time and effort, so make sure to take action with what you have learned. With the information you have gained, develop a strategic plan for community engagement initiatives on your campus. The application process is an opportunity to highlight areas for improvement, such as data collection and assessment or advocacy for a change in the tenure and review process.

During the last application cycle, the institution where I was working had no repository for community engagement data. This meant contacting numerous departments, offices, and centers to gather information.  We quickly realized that no one center or person was focused on gathering, assessing, and digesting community engagement data at the institution. We learned that this would be important as we moved forward, as would having a database to assist us in this effort. These realizations led the institution to acquire GivePulse, and designate a center for tracking the data and reporting its findings annually.

We hope you have found these preliminary tips useful as you begin to think about your 2020 application. We at GivePulse are here to help you think about data gathering and assessing community engagement in new and innovative ways. Since our founding, we have been innovating alongside our campus partners and their communities to ensure institutions have quality data to tell their community engagement stories. From the Carnegie framework, to your local communities, to beyond, we are here to support your wonderful work.  

Check back in soon – more to come!

Best of luck to all campuses applying for the 2020 classification.