Furman University has a rich history of partnerships with the community. The Heller Service Corps, founded in 1965, is Furman’s largest student organization with over 1,800 student volunteers working in over 60 local organizations. The Corps founder Betty Alverson, was inspired by her Furman Professor Laura Smith Ebaugh, whose community-based work dated back to the 1930s.
Spearheaded by a Furman Advantage initiative in 2016, the Collaborative for Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) builds upon Furman's legacy of community partnerships. The university is dedicated to deeply understanding and addressing community challenges, identifying opportunities for collaboration, and providing formative experiences for students through research opportunities.
Research conducted over the summer of 2016 examined Furman’s current community engagement programs, cataloged partners and projects, developed community engagement training models for students, solicited perceptions of Furman among key stakeholders in Greenville, and developed strategies for future community engagement opportunities. This research identified 725 campus-community partnerships. Several pilot projects that launched in 2016 are helping to inform the future work of CEL.