Center for Public Impact

The Center for Public Impact brings focus to our human and intellectual potential; creating a vision, infrastructure, and programs to drive high impact community and civic engagement priorities in service to the public good.  Through programs and initiatives working with faculty and community partners we engage students with the community and challenge them to become reflective learners and engaged citizens.


A hub for information, resources, and opportunities for creating partnerships between individuals, organizations, and communities.

Community-Based Learning

A site for high quality community-based learning and research addressing the critical challenges of our region, the State, the nation, and the world.

Civic Development

A home for developing civic skills, knowledge, values, and motivation to take action on issues of personal and public concern.

Celebrating Excellence

A venue to celebrate and promote excellence in community and civic engagement.




The National and Community Service Act of 1990 defined community service as: Those services designed to improve the quality of life for community residents (general public), particularly low-income individuals, or solving problems related to their needs.

At BGSU we emphasize that community engagement and community service activities (local, regional/state, national, global) should address critical societal issues and contribute to the public good.

Community service is usually tied to a non-profit organization, community based organization or network, governmental entity, non-governmental or civic organization working to address the public good. Activities associated with a for-profit organization would only count where those activities were tied to a public good, for example corporate volunteer programs, or a business organizing an event to benefit a non-profit.

The emphasis is on the people being helped and the service being offered. Designed to improve the quality of life for all community members/residents, or to solve particular problems related to their needs, including such fields as health care, child care, literacy training, educational access, economic vitality and job and career success, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, disaster relief, crime prevention and safety, recreation, rural development, environment and sustainability, community health and vitality, equity and diversity, access and universal design, etc.

So what counts as community engagement/service?

  • Direct community service activities (i.e. tutoring, building homes, visiting older adults, clearing invasive species, etc.) including planning time, the direct service, and reflection time.
  • Indirect service activities that impact the public good (i.e. raising funds or recruiting volunteers for a community based organization, serving on a board or planning committee, engaging in research or administrative tasks that support the community impact goals of an organization).
  • Community organizing (i.e. non-partisan voter registration drives, educational campaigns addressing critical community issues).
  • Community-Based Learning Courses (direct community engagement/service activities including any required training and preparation, and reflection activities).
  • Projects sponsored by student clubs/organizations and faith based entities that provide a direct service to the local community, including time spent planning a community service activity.
  • Service oriented alternative break trips or educational experiences.
  • Activities through a faith community/ place of worship that provide assistance to non-members (participating in mission work impacting a community, providing meals for those in need, operating a food pantry or clothing store)

What does not count as community service?

  • Activities for which a person is paid wages or a stipend.
  • Non-profit internship hours and observational or practicum hours that are part of degree requirements and do not include direct community service.
  • Service volunteered for private businesses or for-profit organizations such as staffing a booth at a public event or distributing materials.
  • Political campaigning or partisan political activities promoting a political candidate or party. Community service is non-partisan.
  • Meetings or class hours, unless the time was spent planning or completing a community service activity.
  • Student club/organization activities, unless the activities provide a direct service to the local community.
  • Religious activities such as proselytizing or religious education.
  • Service connected to a place of worship/faith based community/private organization designed to benefit members (i.e. singing in the choir, ushering, running the video/sound equipment, grounds keeping, teaching classes or providing childcare are examples of activities that benefit the faith community/ organizations and its members rather than the public good).
  • Contributing a donation (i.e. giving food, clothing, money, etc.).
  • Service that directly impacts BGSU (i.e. Orientation Leader, Campus Guide, recruitment or program outreach, etc.
  • Fundraising that benefits self, i.e. activities that raise money to fund one’s own participation in service related activities, support a student organization, or faith community/place of worship.
  • Assisting neighbors, i.e. activities such as mowing the neighbor’s lawn or shoveling a driveway are wonderful acts of kindness but do not count as community service.

Community-Based Learning, also known as service-learning, is a class based, credit-bearing educational experience which integrates academic material, relevant community-based engagement and/or service activities, and critical reflection based on a reciprocal partnership that engage students, faculty/staff, and community members in achievement of academic and disciplinary learning objectives and civic outcomes to advance public purposes.