In fact, we would go so far as to say that the moment is now for organizations to reach out, lift, and serve in the communities where they are embedded. Frankly, this is more than being socially responsible, but rather a means by which organizations further embed themselves in the identity of the community. The more people in the community identify, engage with, and recognize one’s organization as a supporting agent for the well-being of the individuals and families in the community, the more they will reciprocate by supporting the organization. This is basic social exchange theory and reciprocity, and it’s worked for ages in building, establishing, and reinforcing both organizations and communities.
Thus, our reason for producing this volume and pulling in some of the greatest minds in community engagement was to accomplish three overarching aims:
Across these areas, the chapters are written to both intrigue the calculating theory-driven academic and inspire the organizational leader and practitioner. As the examples and stories quickly show, it takes both. It takes the academics who recognize the importance in community building and the expertise of community leaders to sit down, listen, and engage with them. It also takes the community leaders being responsive to the inquiries from academics, recognizing the time investment that may be required, and allowing the potential opportunities to emerge over time. A great level of patience is required by both parties to foster the safe sharing environment thereby recognizing the competencies of both groups as the mutually beneficial opportunity emerges via conversation, exploration, and eventual dedication. In the end, this volume is about how to do the community engagement and outreach efforts in a way to maximize the mutually beneficial outcomes while setting the groundwork for a longer-term fruitful community for all to enjoy.
Reviews for: The Cambridge Handbook of Community Engagement and Outreach
‘This Handbook is a must read for students, faculty, community members and other key stakeholders. It presents best practices and examples of university-community partnerships and the importance of community engaged research. Outreach and community engagement efforts are where universities should be investing their time if social change is to take place.” – Rhonda K. Lewis, Wichita State University
“This is an outstanding compendium of knowledge and best practices for faculty, administrators, and managers in organizations who want to have impact on their communities through partnership and collaboration. Interdisciplinary in scope and broad in perspective, this is an inspiring read that offers key insights and suggestions for making the most of community and engagement and outreach. It is a must-have resource for everyone who wants to make a difference in their community.” – Tammy D. Allen, University of South Florida.
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