History & Purpose

The Dubuque National Service Partnership & Impact Volunteering
The City Council has adopted a high impact service plan that is designed to engage residents in service opportunities that support addressing significant and identified community needs.  The Dubuque National Service Partnership (DNSP) has been a key partner in carrying out the Council's plan.

The DNSP is a collaborative group comprised of the following National Service Programs in Dubuque: AmeriCorps Partners in Learning, Iowa Campus Compact, Green Iowa AmeriCorps, Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, and the Foster Grandparent Program.  In addition, various agencies serve as hosts and are part of the collaborative.  

In November 2013, Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds presented the Iowa Non-Profit Collaboration Award to this group for its outstanding efforts to support and promote a culture of service in the community by engaging volunteers for the purpose of impacting complex social and economic needs.

In September 2015, the Corporation for National & Community Service recognized the DNSP as a Special Partnership Honoree for Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service. The award is in honor of retired US Senator Tom Harkin and recognizes outstanding and innovative programs and high quality and meaningful AmeriCorps service experiences.

Iowa Campus Compact nominated the Dubuque National Service Partnership in recognition of its uniquely collaborative approach and outstanding service to the community.

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Purpose of the Partnership
In 2013, the Dubuque National Service Partnership and supporting non-profits came together to support broader engagement of volunteers in the community through the following goals:   
  • Match volunteers with service opportunities that are meaningful and applicable to the volunteer's skills and interests.  This may mean matching volunteers through partnerships the DNSP and additional City partners are directly involved with to address high priority community needs, or referring a volunteer to the United Way of Dubuque for additional opportunities
  • Create a welcoming environment for residents of all backgrounds to network and to build and contribute their skills
  • Produce emergency volunteers that will assist in the event of a disaster
  • Leverage volunteering as A Pathway to Employment
  • Demonstrate the impact volunteers can have when working collectively with other organizations and institutions to address significant community needs

The 2013 Pilot

With the support of a Volunteer Generation Fund Grant form the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, a pilot program focused on capturing the impact of volunteers on economic opportunity in Dubuque was launched. It built upon prior work accomplished by a partnership between the Circles Initiative, Project Concern, Operation New View and Loras College that has leveraged the service of Iowa Campus Compact VISTAs since 2011.

Over the course of the grant period, agency staff and VISTA members shared out knowledge gained from attending six volunteer management workshops, five workshops in non-profit management and one workshop in leveraging skills-based volunteering. Knowledge gained and shared led to the assessment or implementation of five best practices in the field of volunteer management at the non-profit organizations involved, positively affecting the volunteer experience for Dubuque residents at these organizations. A volunteer recruitment and retention toolkit was created, along with a training video describing how to use a collective impact model to address community needs.

Moreover, in just two months, collaborating agencies were able to: collectively recruit 134 new volunteers, retain/manage 121 volunteers, recruit 2 board members, and receive donations from 30 philanthropists.

Moving Forward

Next steps will involving building on this pilot initiative. Work will continue to focus around improving our ability to measure the impact volunteers are having around key issues in the community.