Giving Compass' Take:

• Alexander Kolokotronis and Onyeka Obiocha explain how some university programs are making higher education an important model for social change in local communities.

• How do current community programs -- like volunteering and service learning -- fail in creating real community engagement for college students? What can we do to mold higher education into a critical model for social change?

• Expand your knowledge on the widespread benefits of making higher education a model for social change.

Since higher education is increasingly playing a leading role in developing the next generation of policy and social entrepreneurs, we must develop a cooperative framework to guide them. Students need a working understanding of what on-the-ground work with neighboring communities looks like, and how to center community needs. The same stories were repeatedly told when speaking with community leaders, organizers, activists, and nonprofit leaders. We heard about students coming in under the guise of good intentions, but centering their own needs, research, and privilege without taking the time to understand the histories and traditions of the community or organization they wish to serve.

This history is an opportunity to build value-based community engagement efforts. Organizations like the Yale U.S. Health Justice Collaborative have done an incredible job of encouraging students to better understand New Haven. Models like these are crucial, especially at Yale, where based on age, educational attainment, race, and ethnicity, the New Haven metropolitan area is the most representative of the United States. If, as administrators, we can create an infrastructure for student projects to be informed by residents of the Greater New Haven area, that model can scale or be replicated almost anywhere in the country.

Our model is based around three core themes: knowledge sharing, developing a community of practice, and capacity building. Building outward from these ideas, our work ranges from creating an Economic Development Speaker Series and organizing a team of Economic and Community Development Coordinators to serve as interns and connectors for organizations working to develop a resilient entrepreneurship ecosystem in New Haven, to facilitating the project management of a participatory budgeting process.

Read the full article about higher education as a model for social change by Alexander Kolokotronis and Onyeka Obiocha at Stanford Social Innovation Review.