Building and Sustaining Partnerships

Building and Sustaining Partnerships includes the skills to develop and maintain relationships with community partners. 

Table.   Skills for Building and Sustaining Partnerships.

Building and Sustaining Partnerships


  • Communicate about expectations
  • Engage in deep listening
  • Speak without using jargon
  • Read signals about when our requests might overwhelm a community
  • Ask questions
  • Use language that reflects  authentic partnership
  • Communicate clearly, without “dumbing down” language
  • Communicate clearly about resources that are available
  • Learn from story
  • Value story as medium for shared power
  • Negotiate about problems in relationship, and about differing priorities


Project management:

  • Discuss roles in project
  • Be flexible about roles
  • Project management, eg., checking in with partners about project progress
  • Bring groups together, and facilitate co-working
  • Involve partner from beginning of planning project
  • Negotiate differences in rhythm on and off campus
  • Transition from consultation to collaboration


Relationship skills:

  • Practice perspective-taking
  • Share authority—intellectual, financial, etc.
  • Navigate cross-cultural partnerships
  • Preserve relationship even when project does not work out
  • Behave appropriately in other people’s space—be a good guest
  • Work through transition of relationship at the conclusion of a project
  • Develop/restore trust in you and institution


Learn about community and university

  • Understand history of community relationship with university
  • Learn basic “lay of the land” of community, but understand that your knowledge is incomplete
  • Work with community navigator
  • Avoid involvement in community politics
  • Examine power relations


Understand how pieces fit together

  • Understand  and collaborate to achieve mutual benefit
  • See how university and community assets complement each other
  • Listen to interconnections among issues, and also see starting points



Resources for building our capacity for partnership includes:

  1. Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Principles of Partnership.
  2. Community Impact Statement


< Back