University of Notre Dame


Local community engagement

Challenge: More fully understand the University’s relationship to the surrounding South Bend community, the causes of underlying tensions, and best practices for addressing those tensions.

Approach: Impact Collaborative partnered with Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns and Office of Public Affairs to conduct community-based research that included: 

  • A comprehensive audit of the University’s local community engagement activities, the impact of those activities on the community,  as well as related communications across all schools, institutions, centers, and administrative functions.
  • Over 40 interviews and 15 focus groups to understand both internal and external perceptions of Notre Dame and its role in the community.

The research showed that although Notre Dame was driving powerful social change initiatives in the local community, the community did not feel a sense of true partnership or reciprocity with the University.

Results: Our research and subsequent recommendations led to the formation of the University's Community Engagement Coordinating Council (CECC), a horizontal infrastructure with a mission to enhance the quality of community-based partnerships through the application of coordinated research, learning, service, and communications.

Currently, over 7,500 participants are collaborating on 315 projects with community partners. Community impacts include increased funding and capacity-building, positive media coverage, skills training, and enhanced quality of life.

Click here to see our global community engagement work with Notre Dame.


Strategic partners

AIDS Ministries, Asante Foundation, Bethel College, Center for the Homeless, Center for Social Concerns, City of South Bend, Indiana University, Emanuel Community Church, Martin Youth Center, Robinson Community Learning Center, Salvation Army, South Bend Community Schools, St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce, St. Margaret's House, St. Mary's College, United Way, University of Notre Dame Board of Directors


Non-profit strategy, stakeholder research, community assessment & engagement, strategic partnerships, impact measurement, messaging & communications, higher education, human rights


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