Rockford University has a long and proud tradition of community service. When Rockford graduate Jane Addams established Hull-House in Chicago in 1889, she also established a lasting legacy of service to the public. Today, students at Rockford University continue to apply skills learned in the classroom to make their neighborhood, their community, and their world a better place.

Community-based learning (also called service-learning) links the classroom to the community in an experiential learning process. In community-based learning (CBL), the professor, the students and the community partner learn collaboratively while positively impacting the Rockford community.


CBL Mission Statement

Community-based learning supports Rockford University students in reflective experiential learning through community partnerships, local-to-global, that provide mutually positive educational outcomes.

Rockford University will:

  • Encourage students to practice good citizenship by offering a variety of CBL learning experiences.
  • Link the classroom to the community for a mutually beneficial learning experience.
  • Promote a sense of social activism in our students through CBL courses and community partnerships.

Founded at Rockford University in the early 1990s, our Community-Based Learning program is based on the conviction that Rockford University is a citizen of the community and that the community has a stake in Rockford University, as well. The work that the students perform serves the dual function of providing a defined need for the community while also fulfilling a specific learning objective determined by the professor.‌

Examples of CBL Classes (pdf)


CBL Partners

Rockford University offers many opportunities for community-based learning at organizations within the Northern Illinois region. Representative organizations include:



From an Alumna
Tamra Meisheid has this to say about her community-based learning experiences at Rockford University: “Community-based learning was an invaluable part of my undergraduate education. It was a unique experience, which taught me lessons that were not attainable in just a classroom setting. Those lessons remained with me through law school and even now as a practicing attorney. No other outlets exist for students to combine what they learn in the classroom with the real world.”

From an Agency
Here’s what Northern Illinois Hospice and Grief Counseling Center wrote about our students who worked with the center in a community-based learning project: “The Rockford University nursing students more than met our expectations when they completed their community-based learning projects with us. They were always well-prepared and worked independently. We’ve certainly used their work to help us.”

From a Professor Emerita

Dr. Christine Bruun, professor emerita of psychology, writes, “In my Psychological Disorders class (Psych 357), students volunteer a minimum of 12 hours of their time at Jubilee Center, a drop-in center for the mentally ill, where members take an ownership role in planning activities and policies. The psychology students participate at the center by engaging in conversation and activities with the members. They also assist the Psychology Society in hosting an annual Halloween party. Each year, both the members and students, almost unanimously, report how meaningful their interaction turns out to be.”


Community-Based Learning

Mary Weaks-Baxter, Ph.D.


Rockford University is a member of Campus Compact, a national coalition of universities dedicated to the promotion of community service.

>> View the official Web site for the National Campus Compact at
>> Learn more about the Illinois Campus Compact at



Learn more about our CBL program with our CBL newsletters which are published throughout each academic year.