Purpose: Sustainable and effective university-community partnerships are not easy to create, yet they are an integral part of student community-based learning as they are uniquely designed to educate students about their roles as members of their local, national, and global communities. The purpose of this paper is to review the extant literature on effective university-community partnering and draw out key themes to assist practitioners and researchers who are involved in the design, execution, and analysis of partnership programs. Following the review, a model partnership program focused on increasing students' knowledge and skills in the area of international citizenship, called the global leadership and service project (GLSP), is presented as an innovative service-learning design template. Design/methodology/approach: The paper presents a review of the literature, key themes drawn from the literature, and a case study for use as readers consider, adapt, and integrate tools for effective, partnership-based service-learning projects into their curricula. Findings: Sustainable, effective, and partnership-oriented service-learning projects are difficult to design and execute yet they are extremely effective at enhancing students' awareness, learning, and development as global citizens. The model presented through the GLSP provides a useful framework for adaptation in other university and professional settings. Originality/value: The paper focuses on the community organization side of effective service-learning partner-oriented program design and provides a case study example of how such programs can be executed in a sustainable and contributory manner, each within the context of enhancing student learning as members of our global and interconnected society.