Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Dissertation Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Michelle Wade, Ph.D., MPA

Committee Member

Jeremy Phillips, Ph.D., MPA

Committee Member

Kristen Crossney, Ph.D.


Experiential education is touted as having numerous pedagogical advantages that benefit students’ abilities to apply course content to real world settings and wicked problems, but often these benefits are perceived through the lenses of college students and institutions of higher education, more so than through the lenses of the nonprofit partners and community impact (Bushouse, 2005). Utilizing organization analysis and critical theory as well as specifically honing in on forms of experiential education that constitute community engagement (i.e. service-learning, internships with nonprofit organizations, etc.), which aim to establish mutually beneficial relationships between institutions of higher education (IHEs) and community nonprofit organizations (CNOs), this paper attempts to closely examine and identify the practices, policies, and characteristics regarding “partnerships” between IHEs and CNOs that are established to build capacity for CNOs and enhance student learning and development. Through literature review, surveying, and interviewing representatives of CNOs neighboring multiple IHEs in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the researcher defines success from the perspective of CNOs and explores which factors, practices, and policies impact partnerships. Although every CNO is unique, many commonalities surfaced regarding CNOs’ perspectives and experiences on what influences partnership pursuit (i.e., timeliness, responsiveness, accessibility, proximity, and popularity), partnership agreement (i.e., compatibility, oversight, outcomes, perks, time, evaluation, and demand), and successful partnership outcomes (i.e., validation and valuation, consent and intentionality, framing and preparation, oversight and investment, communication and expectation setting, and consistency and shared vision).