Applying for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

Does your institution prioritize community engagement? Or better yet, does community engagement permeate your college or university in profound and pervasive ways? If so, perhaps you are aware of the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement. Piloted in 2006, the prestigious classification continues to deepen its original commitment to recognizing institutions that prioritize serving a public purpose, with a new 2024 framework now open for application.  

It is important to recognize that many institutions act on their public purpose by engaging in teaching, research, community outreach and a variety of other activities with their surrounding communities. However, the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement describes a specific set of actions and principles to define and measure community engagement for the purposes of classification. 

As a long-term partner of the Carnegie Elective Classifications, GivePulse is proud to connect institutions already collecting campus engagement data and tracking impacts with information about how to further institutionalize their community engagement efforts. 

In this blog post, the GivePulse team will provide an overview of the process for institutions considering a first-time application process or institutions anticipating the re-classification process with team members who have not previously applied. 

What is the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification?

According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, community engagement describes "collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those in the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good."

The Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement application allows campuses to measure and demonstrate the institutionalization of community engagement via the quality, depth and pervasiveness of all community engagement efforts.

Using the GivePulse platform, institutions can access the application framework, create drafts and revisions, return to view past applications hosted on the platform and submit new applications. As a proud supporter of community-engaged campuses, the GivePulse Tech Support team is available 24/7 to support and walk you through any questions about our community engagement management software. 

Preparing For Your Application

To complete your application, your institution will need to assemble a team of representatives who have been responsible for the institution's community engagement in recent years. 

The 2024 framework is categorized into more distinct themes than previous frameworks. New questions and targeted sections will help applicants navigate more intuitively through the application and work in clusters to more efficiently target responses for each section. For example, sections on financial investments, data collection and assessment, and faculty may call on an institution's finance department, institutional research and faculty senate representatives. By reviewing the framework and accompanying guide, your institution's team will know from the beginning who will need to be a part of the information-gathering process.

If there are questions that your institution anticipates being unable to answer, it is crucial that you still include an explanation. Reviewers advise leaving no sections blank. Instead, explain why there is insufficient information to provide evidence for the question. You can also improve your submission by describing what your campus is doing to provide evidence in the future. 

Data Collection

Tracking engagement data is one of the biggest hurdles to becoming classified, so if your institution is already comprehensively monitoring engagement, you are well on your way. Measuring the quality of your community engagement efforts — based on your institution's definition of community engagement, standards for service learning courses and methods for being accountable to community partners — are further priorities in the 2024 framework.

GivePulse provides one location to facilitate the tracking, assessment and review of your community engagement work. By configuring the layout of a survey, you can create ​​assessments, applications, agreements and more to gather information and evaluate the outcome of your engagement. 

Typically, the data you provide in your application should reflect the most recent academic year. However, wherever information is requested within the application, it is understood that COVID-19 has likely impacted data from 2021-2022, 2020-2021 and 2019-2020. Your campus may use data from a range of years, including from the pre-COVID academic year: academic years 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-21, and 2021-2022. 

For each question, your team should determine what data provides the best representation of your campus's community engagement and cite the academic year that the data represents in the response. Campuses may use data from a singular academic year or "mix and match" throughout the application. The Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement provides a comprehensive FAQ with details for applicants. 

Partnership Survey 

The elective classifications continue to evolve along with the field of community engagement. For institutions that received classification in 2015 and are now seeking re-classification, there have been several updates to the application framework. The 2024 framework has a targeted focus on community partnerships, which grew out of a partnership survey piloted in the 2020 framework. 

The partnership survey allows institutions to list up to 15 community partners who will be invited to participate in a confidential survey. Surveys are available in English and Spanish. Partner responses are included in the holistic evaluation of applications but are not shared with the applying campus. Applicants can view the questions in the partnership survey in the guides for first-time and re-classification.

As the classification process further emphasizes the importance of measuring the quality of outcomes for community engagement, the partnership survey provides an additional measure of accountability while bringing in the voice of community stakeholders. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How often does the classification cycle occur?

The Elective Classification for Community Engagement runs over two-year cycles, with a documentation framework released approximately 14 months in advance of the submission deadline. Campuses hold a classification for six years. 

If your institution is ready to apply for the 2024 cycle, you must initiate the application process by no later than October 31, 2022. You can begin reviewing the documentation framework here: First-time Classification and Re-Classification. There are also guides for each framework and previous frameworks

The deadline for submitting your application is May 1, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Campuses will be notified in December 2023, and a public announcement of classified institutions will be made in January 2024. 

Similarly, in January of 2024, the 2026 classification framework will be released, and applications will be made available. The application deadline for the 2026 framework is April of 2025. Campuses will be notified in December 2025, and a public announcement of classified institutions will be made in January 2026. 

Have there been changes in the timeline or nature of the framework since the pandemic?

Due to changes since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the timeline for first-time classification and re-classification cycles has shifted. If your campus was last classified in 2015, you can now choose between the 2024 or 2026 cycles to pursue re-classification. 

To address the hardships faced by colleges and universities due to the pandemic and the impact this has had on community engagement, there is also a question within the framework application dedicated to the impact of COVID-19 and other large-scale limitations (such as natural disasters) on your campus.

Getting Started

Are you interested in learning more about applying for the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement? The application for the 2024 cycle is now open and hosted on GivePulse. There are several ways for you to advance your knowledge and better determine when your institution will be ready to begin the application process. The following resources provide additional information on your journey toward applying for the classification:

Using GivePulse to Support Community Engagement

GivePulse proudly supports hundreds of colleges and universities across the globe to enhance their engagement with students, faculty, staff, and community members. We pride ourselves on customizing our services to create the solutions required for the rapidly evolving field of higher education. 

From course management to organizing your community partner database based on customized fields, you can leverage GivePulse's software to expand the extent of your institution's public purpose.

Grow your campus engagement efforts with a streamlined platform that organizes, tracks, evaluates and deepens your ability to serve and facilitate meaningful service. Schedule a demo with our team today to learn more. 


About the Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching began the elective classifications to recognize institutions that have made extraordinary commitments to their public purpose. The depth and pervasiveness of community partnerships remain at the foundation of classifying campuses for their community engagement. 

The elective classifications are now managed on behalf of the Carnegie Foundation by an Elective Classification Central Office at the American Council on Education (ACE). Prior to 2006, when the elective classifications began, the Carnegie Foundation's Basic Classifications led the recognition and description of the diversity of U.S. institutions of higher education since 1970. For the first time ever, the basic and elective classifications are now administered in one home, ACE. Learn more about the evolution of the Carnegie Foundation's classifications at


About GivePulse

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