Community Engagement

Transforming people, institutions, and communities through mutually beneficial partnerships, reciprocity and equitable opportunities.

First class of Bonner's Scholars, 2021

"The United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County loves partnering with the Center for Community Engagement to promote increased collaboration, engagement, and impact throughout the Lafayette-Oxford-University (LOU) community."

Kurt Brummett

Executive Director of United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County (UWOLC)

Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi

Community Engagement is at the heart of the University of Mississippi. We take pride in the ways UM collaborates with partnering communities. 

Across the university’s 192 offices, 71% are directly engaged in community engagement. In other words, UM's academic departments and research centers are well known for their collaborations with communities across the state and nation.

In acknowledgement of the university's ongoing community engagement efforts, UM was awarded the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement in 2020. With this classification from the Carnegie Foundation, UM joins an elite group of over 300 institutions actively involved in improving local communities across the country.  

What does community engagement at UM look like? Community engagement can take many forms, including:

  • Research to understand and address opportunities for growth within local communities

  • Projects involving UM and local communities to change lived conditions

  • Education that can benefit collaborating communities and scholars worldwide
  • Questions that seek to answer how UM can improve its priorities to be a better member of the community

Our work centers on two questions: How can academia help communities across the country? And, how can communities enrich academic life at the university?


Division of Diversity and Community Engagement  Center for Community Engagement



Castle Sweet poses for a professional portrait.

Meet the Director of the Center for Community Engagement

"The beauty of community engagement at the University of Mississippi is that it happens in various forms and practices. Deeply held partnerships have developed through years of investment and relationship building, and other partnerships are newly forming and showing great promise. Collectively, we are working to support and strengthen collaborations that will transform people, institutions, and communities."

Castel Sweet, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Assistant of Practice in Community Engagement

Types of Community-Engaged Partnerships at the University of Mississippi

There are several ways that the University of Mississippi Collaborates with local communities. Here are a few examples of UM's community-engaged partnerships.
Outreach is generally led by the University, with only some community involvement. In these collaborations, the University has unique information to share with local communities. Once UM has created a connection with collaborating partners, continued outreach and communication can happen in the future.
Consultation involves direct feedback from community members to help inform UM’s efforts. In these situations, both groups equally share information, develop connections, and further solidify ways to continue a mutually beneficial relationship.
An involved partnership is a more balanced collaboration between the university and community members. In this type of partnership, communication flows evenly between community members and UM. In this way, cooperation is increased as responsibilities are shared.

With shared leadership, the university equally shares leadership with community members. In other words, decision making is balanced between the two groups and communication continues to flow evenly and equally. One of the greatest outcomes from this type of partnership is increased collaboration and trust. 

Community-Driven partnerships benefit from strong community leadership in which community members make key and final decisions on any collaborative project. In this situation, the community may consult with UM to help with any technical questions. Community-Driven partnerships are laser focused on the desires and needs of the community.
  • Students with M Partner volunteer their time to community engagement.

    M Partner

    M Partner is a collaborative program that brings three aspects of community partnerships together: students get hands-on experience working alongside community members, research and scholarship is directly fueled by real world challenges and community-based experience, and university and community leaders work together to apply best practices and creative problem-solving, to enhance community life.

    Learn more about M Partner
  • Bonner leaders pose for picture

    Bonner Leaders Program

    The Bonner Leaders Program provides a Community Engagement Fellowship to a diverse group of students that enables them to work in the community and grow in civic leadership. Students in the Bonner Leader Program work at least 24 hours in selected communities each month. Students benefit from a three-part support system of deep partnerships between students and community organizations, solidarity between Bonner students, and direct mentorships from Center for Community Engagement staff.

    Learn more about the Bonner Leaders Program
  • CEED scholars posing together on the steps of the Lyceum building

    CEED Scholars

    The Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development works with UM students and faculty to build actionable partnerships with Mississippi communities in the hopes that entrepreneurship and economic development will increase throughout rural Mississippi. CEED Scholars can include both undergraduate and graduate students.

    Learn more about CEED Scholars
  • Luckyday scholar sashes for students to wear.

    The Luckyday Scholars Program

    The Luckyday Scholars Program provides scholarships to first-time freshman and community college transfers. Throughout their time at UM, Luckyday Scholars perform ten hours of service to local communities each semester.

    Learn more about the Luckdyday Scholars Program
  • Student help build a garden as part of their community engagement work.

    SMBHC Community Action Challenge

    The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College has a simple challenge for its students: be an agent of change in your community. Because of the SMBHC Community Action Challenge, students in the Honors College will volunteer at least ten hours of their time each semester to engagement with local communities. Students can create community-based change wherever they see the need, in their hometown, in their home state, or in a different country altogether. Students use the Community Action Challenge to outline the scope of their efforts, explore what it takes to have a lasting impact, and work toward transforming their communities and themselves.

    Learn more about the SMBHC Community Action Challenge
  • I voted stickers scattered across a table.

    Voter Engagement

    Voter Engagement at UM is entirely student-run. The efforts of students haven't gone unnoticed. In 2023 UM was named a "voter-friendly campus." Students lead a non-partisan team as part of its Voter Ambassador Program to educate voters and advocate for increased voter participation and engagement.

    Learn more about Voter Engagement

Want to Get Involved in Community Engagement?

There's a simple, easy way for students to get involved with community engagement at UM. 

GivePulse connects you with opportunities for social change.

GivePulse helps:

  • Community leaders advertise volunteer and internship opportunities 
  • Students browse for volunteer opportunities, supply drives, and fundraisers
  • Volunteers chart their collective impact and see how specific efforts make a difference in our communities

GivePulse is the perfect place to get started helping out your community.


Official UM GivePulse