Service-Learning Mini Grants


Service-learning is a high-impact practice that enhances course learning outcomes and student engagement while also addressing community-identified needs. Service-learning incorporates critical reflective thinking and civic engagement into academic coursework by means of integrating service opportunities with nonprofits, governmental, and/or educational community partners. It involves students in activities that attend to local needs while developing their academic skills, enhancing their subject matter knowledge, and increasing their commitment to their community. Service-learning addresses the University's three-pronged mission of teaching, research, and service.

In support of the University’s mission – to improve people's lives – the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, and the Office of Community Engagement will award $250-$500 in mini-grants to fund the design of new courses or the redesign of an existing course. These Service-Learning Mini-Grants provide funding to support University of Kentucky faculty member's efforts in designing a new course or redesigning an existing course that will aid students in accomplishing academic goals through service-learning.

Program Objectives

  • Allow innovative practitioners to develop service-learning courses as a way of teaching and learning that leverages community-based public problem-solving, generates higher order cognitive outcomes, and develops the “civic skills of critical thinking, public deliberation, collective action and social ethics" (Saltmarsh, 2002, p. viii).
  • Support faculty and departments with professional development opportunities and funding.
  • Better retain students by supporting faculty in their commitment to provide engaging educational practices.
  • Create mutually beneficial and sustainable college-community partnerships.
  • Disseminate best practices to the greater college community with the intention that high-impact practices be widely adopted.

Program Guidelines

Designed and redesigned courses must include a significant service-learning or community-based learning component in order to be considered for a mini-grant. Grant-funded courses must be taught for one semester during the Spring 2021 semester. Grant recipients must provide a detailed plan for their course before delivering the course, and generate a detailed report assessing and evaluating the course after delivering the course.

In return, grant recipients will receive the following resources in support of their efforts:

  • $250-$500 Mini-Grant
  • One-on-one course design and instructional advising from consultants with expertise in the pedagogy and practice of service-learning
  • Training and development opportunities related to the course (re)design grant, for example teaching techniques or service-learning basics, as part of faculty learning community
  • Support in locating a suitable community partner for your course if needed

Requirements for Application

Service-Learning Mini-Grant applications will be accepted from any UK faculty or staff member (or pair or group) currently teaching or intending to teach a credit-bearing course that can be designed or redesigned  to include a significant service-learning or community-based learning component.

Review of Submissions

Applications will be reviewed by a Grant Selection Committee comprised of faculty and staff with expertise in the pedagogy and practice of service-learning. Grants will be evaluated based upon the following criteria:

  • Thoughtfulness and level of innovation (pedagogical and/or technological) of the teaching plans
  • Anticipated potential of the course to encourage student engagement
  • Anticipated potential of the course to meet a community need
  • Anticipated impact of receipt of the grant award on the final course design
  • Impact of the designed or redesigned course on the curriculum (courses impacting many students or those serving key populations or curricular areas will be more strongly considered than other courses)
  • Budget description
  • Requirements of the grant application process are met

Applicants should describe their previous experiences with service-learning courses and rate themselves in service-learning instruction (Expert, Proficient/Competent, Advanced Beginner, or Novice).

If additional information is necessary to evaluate the proposal, the applicant will be contacted to provide this information. In such a case, a rapid turn-around on providing the additional information will be requested in order to maintain the grant selection timeline. If information is not provided within the requested time frame, the Grant Selection Committee may be unable to fully consider the application.

Program Requirements

To support a thoughtful approach to integrating service-learning into courses, grant recipients will be expected to:

  • Create a new service-learning course or build upon an existing course where the service experience is integrated into the teaching method and the course content.
  • Include thoughtful, reflective activities that connect the academic curriculum and the service experience. These may include group discussions, journals and presentations.
  • Consult with the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement team throughout course development.
  • Participate in a Faculty Learning Community of grant recipients focused on innovation and best practices in service-learning (meeting every month for 4-6 months).
  • Offer the course for the first time no later than Spring 2021.
  • Contribute to service-learning at UK beyond the grant cycle but sharing course experiences with the campus community. 

Plan A – Before the Course. Faculty and staff members who receive a service-learning mini-grant must create and submit the following four components for their designed or redesigned course to the Grant Selection Committee prior to the start of the course (resources will be made available to assist recipients with the development of these components):

  • Explicitly stated student learning goals for the course (outcomes/objectives)
  • A plan for how both stated learning goals and identified community needs will be met via the course and specifically service-learning experiences
  • A plan for how the attainment of stated student learning goals will be measured
  • A description of the role/responsibilities of the each partner (community partner, faculty/staff partner, students in course) preferably in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a similar format

Part B – During the Course. Faculty and staff members must implement the plans described above during the delivery of their course. They must also meet with their assigned consultant at least twice during the design phase of their course, and once during the delivery (teaching) phase of their course. In addition, they must complete a program evaluation to provide the Grant Selection Committee with feedback on the program after delivering the course.

Part C – After the Course. After delivering the course, outcomes of the course must be disseminated in at least one of the following ways:

  • Within three months after the end of the course, instructors will create and disseminate a report that describes the design of the course, outlines the efficacy of that design in the classroom, describes the outcomes of the assessment plan, and explains next steps for further course revision (if any) based upon those outcomes (a template will be provided to assist recipients with the generation of this report)
  • Recipients will be invited to present at a Campus Showcase highlighting courses and programs with a significant community engagement component
  • Recipients are also encouraged to discuss their course design or redesign and its outcomes in their school and/or department, and to present about their course at relevant conferences

NOTE: All recipients MUST teach their designed or redesigned course within one academic year of receiving the grant.

Service-Learning Mini-Grant Proposal Outline

Attach a two-to-three page program proposal that addresses the following: 

  1. Cover Page, including:
    • Applicant Name
    • Department
    • Applicant Title (Full Time Faculty or Adjunct Faculty)
    • Applicant Email Address
    • Applicant Phone Number
    • Proposal Category (Service-Learning New Course Development - or - Modification/Redesign of Existing Service-Learning Course)
    • Funding Requested (with brief budget description)
    • Course Name and Course Abbreviation
    • Applicant Signature
    • Signature of Department Chair or Associate Dean
  2. Proposal Narrative. Proposals must generally fall in the medium or high impact categories to be approved:
    • A brief course description:
      • A description of course goals and learning outcomes for the course.
      • Provide a general explanation of how service-learning activities will contribute to the course goals. How does the service project reflect priorities and stated goals/needs of community partners and collaborative planning by all partners?
      • Optional: Please provide a tentative syllabus (with course number) if available.
    • Describe how community activities enhance academic content, course design, and assignments.  Please note: A minimum of 15 hours of service per semester is considered best practice.
    • Describe the anticipated impact of the course in meeting identified community needs.
    • Explain how a diversity of interactions and dialogue with others across experience occurs regularly in the course.
    • Articulate how critical reflection is integrated into student learning.

Proposal Submission

Submit proposals electronically to

Questions or Concerns? Contact Todd


Previous Mini Grant Recipients


Lee Ann Paynter, School of Art and Visual Studies, College of Fine Arts

Lindsey Fay, School of Interiors, College of Design

Lynda Sharrett-Field, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

Melanie Dicks, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, College of Pharmacy


Alaine Reschke-Hernandez, School of Music, College of Fine Arts

Elizabeth Whitney, Department of Kineseology and Health Promotion, College of Education

Keiko Tanaka, Community and Leadership Development, College of Agriculture

Olivia Yinger, School of Music, College of Fine Arts

Robyn Brown, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences


Heather Erwin, Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, College of Education

Nancy Jones, Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Fine Arts

Kenton Sena, Lewis Honors College

Hartley Feld, College of Nursing

Anthony Carney, College of Nursing

Heather Erwin, Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, College of Education

Makenzie Barr, Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, College of Agriculture

Kendra Oo, Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, College of Agriculture