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Community Partners

Engaging with local nonprofit organizations through service learning is the primary requirement of the CTP Fellowship. The fellows are divided into interdisciplinary teams in order to practice inter-professional collaboration. Each team works with a Community Partner, a local nonprofit with a challenge that would benefit from an inter-professional approach. For their participation, Community Partners receive a $1000 stipend at the end of the academic year, in May.

The responsibilities of a Community Partner include the following requirements: 

Identifying a Problem: Community Partners begin collaborating with the CTP by identifying how the Fellows can best assist them in tackling an important challenge. The fellows will be expected to provide leadership and consultation rather than simply donating volunteer hours. The theory of adaptive leadership suggests that there are basically two kinds of problems: technical problems and adaptive challenges. Sharon Daloz Parks explains:

Technical problems (even though they may be complex) can be solved with knowledge and procedures already in hand. [For example, replacing a faulty heart value during cardiac surgery is a known solution that can be implemented by current know-how.] In contrast, adaptive challenges require new learning, innovation, and new patterns of behavior. In this view, leadership is the activity of mobilizing people to address adaptive challenges—those challenges that cannot be resolved by expert knowledge and routine management alone. Adaptive challenges often appear as swamp issues—tangled, complex problems composed of multiple systems that resist technical analysis and thus stand in contrast to the high, hard ground issues that are easier to address but where less is at stake for the organization or for society. They ask for more than changes in routine or mere preference. They call for changes of heart and mind—the transformation of long-standing habits and deeply held assumptions and values (Leadership Can Be Taught, 10).

Our hope is that the CTP Fellows can help Community Partners tackle adaptive challenges, though they may work on technical problems as well. 

Guiding the Fellows’ Project: Each Fellows Team will meet at least twice a semester with their Community Partner to learn what it means to serve the Nashville area as a non-profit; to spend time with the clients served; and to assess, identify and think through a challenge the Community Partner faces. In this way, the Fellows serve as students of and consultants to their partners. The goal is for the Fellows Team to provide 30 hours of service total during the academic year to their Community Partner, which may include direct service, event attendance and research on their own time. 

Attending a Concluding Celebration: Each team will write a case study about the challenge they have addressed with their Community Partner, including any resolutions and recommendations for future action. This report will be presented to their Community Partner by the end of the academic year, and we will celebrate together at a concluding luncheon.

Providing Evaluative Feedback: The CTP will ask Community Partners to provide feedback on the program’s effectiveness at mid-year and at the conclusion of the program. We welcome specific advice on ways to improve the program, and frank feedback about the Fellows’ performance. 

For more information, please email the Associate Director, Kat Baker, at Thank you.