Community Engagement Professional Credentialing to Open March 2019

February 27, 2019

In 2015, Campus Compact initiated an exploration of what it might mean to create a professional certification for higher education community and civic engagement practitioners that could advance practitioners’ preparation, improve civic experiences and partnerships, and yield better results for students, institutions, and communities. Four years later, the Compact is on the cusp of rolling out this first-of-its-kind Community Engagement Professional (CEP) Credentialing Program. 

The purpose of the new credentialing program is to provide civic and community engagement practitioners with a means to gain formal recognition for the knowledge and skills they possess and to enhance their professional competencies in ways that encourage more effective, inclusive, and equity-based partnerships and practices.

Where did all of this start?

When Campus Compact first raised the idea of a certification program in 2015, it was exploratory. We wanted to find out whether there was demand for such an initiative among practitioners and, if so, which professional organization might be perceived as its most trusted manager. Toward these ends, the Compact commenced a rigorous process of seeking input from a wide variety of stakeholders from across the country.  At the same time, they supported the work of practitioner-scholar Lina Distilio and a team of 15 Campus Compact research fellows to identify a core set of competencies that would be considered essential for professionals charged with facilitating community-engaged work on college and university campuses.

When results of the inquiry yielded a significant interest among practitioners for a certification mechanism, and a strong confidence in Campus Compact to serve as a third party accreditor for such a program, preparations to design the program began in earnest. In 2017, Campus Compact convened two advisory committees composed of leaders in the field– an operations board and content review board – who, working with the organization’s director of professional learning, began to design the architecture of the program.

As currently designed, the CEP Credentialing Program will offer practitioners the ability to earn up to 12 independent micro-credentials (digital certificates through Acclaim) by demonstrating their knowledge, skills, and experience in specific areas of community engagement. Beyond demonstrating competency, earners are encouraged to thoughtfully reflect on the critical commitments that inform their work, the successes and challenges they have encountered, and areas of continuing professional growth and learning they are dedicated to pursuing. Ultimately, CEPs who chose to participate in the program will be able to combine the micro-credentials they earn to apply for full certification as a Campus Compact Community Engagement Professional.

When does it all start?

In January 2019, Campus Compact rolled out a limited pilot of the credentialing program, focusing on two initial micro-credentials: Community Partnerships and Community Engagement Fundamentals. In March, these two micro-credentials will be made available to all civic and community engagement practitioners who wish to apply. Over the months that follow, additional micro-credentials will be added on a progressive basis, with a full release of all available micro-credentials to be achieved by the end of 2019.

While experienced CEPs may apply for micro-credentials without a specific pre-qualifying professional training experience, Campus Compact will provide a vetted list of professional development providers whose offerings align with the particular micro-credential competency areas. Potential applicants will be highly encouraged to take advantage of these programs to enhance their practice as well as the quality of their micro-credential applications.       

Campus Compact’s interest in developing the credentialing program has not only been about their desire to provide CEPs with an opportunity to gain recognition for knowledge and skills they have worked hard to develop in their careers; it is also about being able to provide practitioners with a range of ongoing opportunities to connect with colleagues from across the Compact network for such things as mentorship, affinity group participation, curriculum building, communities of practice, co-dissemination of best practices, shard publishing possibilities, and more.

The future development and growth of the credentialing program will continue to rely on input and support from a full range of stakeholders and practitioners across the field of civic and community engagement. This way, we can ensure that the program can be thoughtfully adapted to the changing needs and desires of those working within the field, both on our campuses and in our communities.    

How can you learn more?

Upcoming regional Campus Compact conferences will feature sessions dedicated to the CEP Credentialing Program, with opportunities to hear and learn from practitioners who have participated in the pilot program and leaders in the field who helped develop the program. Sessions will also explore the ways in which the program is being designed to provide comprehensive opportunities for practitioners to improve their practice and broaden their professional networks in the field.

For more information, please check out the CEP Credentialing Program webpage, and do not hesitate to contact Clayton Hurd, director of professional learning at Campus Compact with any questions you may have.