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Benefits of a College Community Advisory Board

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As higher education’s mission shifts to filling workforce gaps and providing learners with the skills they need to have career mobility, a college community advisory board can be a useful tool to bridge workforce and academia.

As we continue to strengthen our programs and grow our college’s impact, it is imperative that we offer programs that are of sound academic quality, address student development needs and relevant to industry and community demands. One mechanism for creating and monitoring program relevancy is through a college community advisory board (CAB). 

At Richard J. Daley College, a community college on Chicago’s Southwest Side that I lead, we created a CAB about four years ago, and it has been driven by the following principles:

Community engagement and voice

A college’s commitment to engaging and involving the local community by creating a structured vehicle for community members to provide input, share concerns and offer suggestions.

Building trust

A mechanism for demonstrating the college’s willingness to listen and respond to community needs and concerns.

Channel for mitigation and understanding

A means to address issues and concerns proactively as well to respond in times of crises.

Resource sharing

Sharing mutually beneficial resources and initiatives.

Strategic planning

An open understanding of the college’s strategic direction as well as the community’s long-term goals.

Public partnership image and influence

Clearly defined working relationship as a responsible and engaged institution.


A way for the college to demonstrate its institutional effectiveness and embody its mission.

Diverse perspectives

Members from diverse perspectives, including business and industry, policy-makers, government officials, residents, educators and community-based organizations can lead to more considerations when making decisions and devising solutions.

Workforce opportunities

Making connections for students and faculty with real-world community issues and opportunities for experiential learning and service.  

Creating a college community advisory board can help build positive relationships, promote collaboration, share resources and ensure the college remains closely connected and meaningful to its community. The advisory board aligns the college’s activities with community interests and fosters a sense of shared responsibility for the well-being of both the college and the community it serves.

Working with community-based organizations, education providers, local businesses, faith-based organizations and others, we have expanded our services to students and the community. We have seen the benefits of the CAB at our college and for our CAB members—and we expect your college and community will see the impact too.

Creating a Community Advisory Board for a College

Creating a college community advisory board (CAB) can be valuable in fostering collaboration and communication between the college and the local community. A CAB can be instrumental in providing insight, guidance and perspective on various aspects of the college’s activities. The college and the community both benefit through shared goals and alignment.

Here are the main steps for creating a CAB:

Define the charge

Clearly articulate the advisory board’s purpose and objectives, including the scope, such as community engagement, campus development, student-community relations, local policy and economic impact.

Identify key stakeholders

Determine the key stakeholders from both the college and the community perspective including local business leaders, government officials, community organizers, faculty, staff, students, alumni and residents.

Engage prospective members

Reach potential board members individually followed by a formal invitation detailing the charge, expectations, commitments and benefits.

Establish a structure

Create the structure, membership criteria, appointments and term limits including size and meeting operations. Also included should be a charter or bylaws and advisory or decision-making processes.

Regular meetings

A cadence for meetings should be delineated and ensure that meetings are well structured and focused on specific topics. Encourage open and constructive discussions and provide opportunities for members to share their insights, concerns and recommendations related to the college’s activities and their impact on the community.

Follow-up and action

Ensure recommendations are considered and lead to meaningful actions and improvements within the college and the community.

Evaluate and adjust

Periodically review effectiveness and make necessary operational adjustments to ensure the board continues to serve its intended purpose.

Maintain transparency and open communication

Frequently disseminate information to the college, the CAB and the public about the initiatives, collaborations and decisions.

Creating a college community advisory board can be a valuable step in strengthening the relationship between a college and the surrounding community, leading to mutually beneficial outcomes and a positive impact for all.