Campus Compact advances the public purposes of colleges and universities by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility.
Montana Campus Compact was founded by eight Montana college and university presidents, including Richard Littlebear of Chief Dullknife College and George Dennison from the University of Montana. Through the mid-1980s and early 1990s there was a great deal of new activity and organization across many sectors to better respond to community needs, and strengthen American democracy. Some examples include Campus Compact, founded nationally in 1985, Points of Light in 1990, the Corporation for National and Community Service in 1990 and AmeriCorps shortly after, The Campus Opportunity Outreach League, and more.
In Montana, this time saw the creation of the Governor’s Office of Community Service, and the Montana Commission on Community Service, two influential bodies that have advanced service and volunteerism in Montana. Higher education administrators took action and decided to organize themselves around a common charge of “educating students and building communities,” and began to invest in a small organization that trained faculty, provided resources and expertise, researched and published on campus-community engagement and community based research, and helped bring together the community of higher education staff and faculty to share best practices, grow the field and act collectively for a greater impact.
Throughout the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, Campus Compact has won several federal Learn and Serve America and AmeriCorps grants, and successfully administered programs that trained faculty in service learning pedagogy, and which placed college student AmeriCorps members in service to their host communities. The Faculty Fellows (Learn and Serve) and Campus Corps (AmeriCorps) programs engaged hundreds of participants, leveraged several million dollars in grant funds and AmeriCorps Education Award for Montana College students. In 2000, MTCC won a VISTA grant, and began offering anti-poverty, capacity building VISTA members to its affiliate campuses and to community nonprofits and schools. MTCC has operated a VISTA grant as an intermediary organization, supporting anti-poverty, education-focused capacity building work in Montana.
In 2014 Campus Compact’s Board voted to amend its bylaws and created a standing Advisory Committee, which would convene more regularly than the board, for the purposes of advising the network office and advancing the work of Campus Compact. The MTCC Advisory Committee has been co-chaired by staff and faculty members from the network since its inception. These leaders set the agenda and work collectively on important campus-community engagement needs. In 2015, to honor the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, thirteen MTCC campuses voted to begin offering campus funding to match the AmeriCorps Education Award.