About the Public Purpose Institute

The Public Purpose Institute was initially founded to contribute to community engagement and social innovation through collaboration with students, faculty, community partners, and institutions of higher education. Dr. Mathew Johnson, the 17th president of Albion College, played a key role in the institute’s early leadership, co-founding the National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement and leading the development of Carnegie Foundation Elective Classifications.

Under the direction of Dr. John Saltmarsh, a Professor of higher education at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, the Public Purpose Institute managed the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. During this time, the Institute received support from Gene Corbin, former Dean of Public Service at Harvard College. This classification evaluated U.S. colleges and universities based on their commitment to community partnerships.

In 2015, the Carnegie Foundation transferred responsibility for the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University. The Classification on Community Engagement remained under the management of the Public Purpose Institute at Albion College until March 2022, when it was moved to the American Council on Education.

The Mission of Public-Purpose.org Today

Following this transition of the Carnegie Classification away from the Public Purpose Institute, Public-Purpose.org shifted its focus to FEMA Independent Study (IS) exam preparation. While our focus has evolved, our core mission of community empowerment remains the same. We believe that by equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate emergencies, we contribute to building stronger, more resilient communities.