Community Based Learning in the time of COVID-19


As we adjust to our new temporary reality in the face of COVID-19, we know you may have some questions about your work within the community. 

Remember this quick switch in teaching and learning is likely uncharted territory for us all, including faculty, students and community partners.  High quality community based learning isn't about logging a certain number of hours, it is about being responsive to community partner needs. Perhaps at this time, the ultimate way to be engaged in the community is in ways that are grass-roots and emerging as the situation unfolds. 

In times like these, we are inspired by the willingness of so many to want to help, support and contribute. Here are a few ideas for ways to contribute: 

  • Donate food or volunteer at your local food bank or pantry 
  • Support small businesses 
  • Donate blood 
  • Donate supplies (or better yet $) to an organization that is doing critical work in the community. 
  • Check in on your neighbors and those that may be vulnerable in your community 
  • Take care of yourself and your loved ones 

COVID-19 is creating new needs and challenges, while putting tremendous pressure on all nonprofits. There are growing needs from individuals across the region and fewer volunteers to keep their organizations running. The nonprofits working directly to meet those needs require more resources to do so. Our friends over at Volunteer Fairfax are working diligently to share opportunities and donation requests from organizations across Northern Virginia. We hope you will take some time to visit these websites and learn more! 

Please visit for volunteer opportunities

Please visit for donation needs

We ask potential volunteers NOT to serve if they feel uncomfortable doing so, if they show symptoms associated with COVID-19 or if they have been in close contact with people known to have the virus.  You should also monitor and follow all suggested state and federal recommendations regarding ways to prevent the spread of the virus which may restrict or limit interaction among the public. 

To continue these efforts, SAIL has put together a list of resources for Faculty and Community Partners. We hope this will help to share some ideas and best practices from colleagues across the country. Our hope is that community engagement doesn’t go away but rather may exist in an alternate format that better meets the needs of all involved. Please reach out to us in SAIL with any questions or concerns.

These are unprecedented times and we are grateful for such a compassionate and thoughtful community. Stay safe everyone!