University of Notre Dame


Community Impact


The University of Notre Dame sought to:

  • Fully understand its relationship to the local, regional, and global communities it serves to fulfill its mission of “cultivating a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many.”

  • Coordinate their robust community impact efforts in order to:

    • Optimize the University’s human and fiscal resources to maximize societal impact.

    • Leverage nonprofit, corporate, and civic partnerships to increase impact.

Impact Collaborative (IC) partnered with N.D.’s Center for Social Concerns and Office of Public Affairs to conduct a University-wide audit of community partnerships and efforts, including extensive research with key stakeholder groups (over 40 interviews and 15 focus groups) 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 worldwide, those same efforts were often siloed within the schools, institutes, centers, and/or administrative functions from which they were developed. This lack of coordination was leading to:

  • Diminished community impacts.

  • Communities that did not feel a sense of true partnership or reciprocity with the University.

  • Missed opportunities to engage students in Notre Dame’s mission.

  • Underleveraged resources.


IC’s learnings 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.


IC worked with Notre Dame to:

  • Create a roadmap and tools for the CECC’s formation.

  • Engage corporate, civic, and nonprofit partners as advisors to the CECC.

  • Communicate the CECC’s purpose and modes of engagement.

  • Develop impact measurement benchmarks.

To ignite the CECC’s inaugural year, IC facilitated Council meetings and deliverables to internal and external stakeholder groups.


After six months, IC deployed an anonymous survey to Council members and University partners. Findings showed that one significant gap still existed — the challenge of sustaining community impact when tied to the academic calendar.

This led to the development of a framework for passing community-based initiatives across curricula and classrooms, allowing for more cohesive efforts and sustained impacts.


Currently, over 7,500 participants are collaborating on 315 projects with community partners. Efforts across populations, geographies, and needs are coordinated across the University. Impacts include increased funding and skills training for nonprofit partners, positive media coverage for Notre Dame, and enhanced quality of life within communities that Notre Dame serves.

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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