College Students are Leaders!

When I was in my 6th grade English class, my teacher said to the entire class, “You are the next generation of leaders!” The thing is, this teacher didn’t tell us how to learn how to be a leader or when we were supposed to assume this role. Now, at age 23, I’ve been figuring out the ways I am a leader in my community and the ways that I want to lead in my future. I attribute this awareness of my experiences to the Residential College in the Arts & Humanities at Michigan State University, and my AmeriCorps VISTA term at Michigan Campus Compact.

Michigan Campus Compact (MICC), an affiliate organization of MNA, supports the civic engagement activities of colleges and their students around the state of Michigan. After the 15th year of Service Leadership Camp last fall, the MICC team thought about whether or not the program was meeting the needs of students, and also posed this question to the network of faculty and staff. The result was the decision to begin a new leadership program and I jumped at the opportunity to pioneer this project!

Throughout the last six months, I have worked with my supervisor, Shannon Zoet, and a network planning committee to coordinate the program for MICC’s first Active Leaders Student Conference this October! No participant will leave this one-day conference without recognizing that they are a leader and learning specific steps to accomplish their aspirations through community service, advocacy, and philanthropy.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something as unique as this event, even more so when you are helping to plan it. This event is very grassroots in the way that it is planned by, geared toward, and has presenters all for the same age group. Many of the leadership events at the college level are only for student leaders that belong to a certain group or specific career path. This event is geared toward leaders from every background who are entering career paths that are just as diverse.”

-Zoe K.D. Haynes, Planning Committee Member, Undergraduate Student, Wayne State University

Amber Cruz, program manager of Mobilize.org will be the keynote speaker at the event and she is excited to share Mobilize resources and ideas to organize voter engagement efforts during the 2012 election season.

For more information about the Active Leaders Student Conference, click here.

Submitted by Jessica Johnson,  AmeriCorps*VISTA, Michigan Nonprofit Association 

Despite differences, education is central to both State and Federal Budgets

These past few weeks have demonstrated the challenges of creating sound, effective budgets at the state and national level. The Michigan and federal budgets, however, paint two very different pictures of the health of their constituents.

The recession over the past four years has not been kind, but there seems to be a glimmer of hope in Michigan. After several consecutive years of painful cuts, it appears the financial outlook is more optimistic with 2012’s budget surplus. Education funding increased by 0.2%, public safety funding is also set to increase, and the “Rainy Day” fund will grow by an additional $130 million, according to the State Budget Office. At the Federal level, by contrast, the deficit still weighs heavily on programs most Americans take for granted, but rely on – the President offered a 52% decrease in Education, a 35% decrease in Labor, and slight increases for Health and Human Services (3.7%) and the Corporation of National and Community Service (1.3%).

Still, there are some common commitments between the two budgets, such as improving performance and affordability of education. President Obama promotes a ‘Race to the Top’ and links financial aid to universities that keep their tuition under control. Governor Rick Snyder also wants to link increased spending in education to improved performance, best practices, and college tuition restraint. And they are politicians from two different parties.

Despite the other differing priorities of the two budgets, it is clear that superior education for future generations must be a priority for education beyond high school. Whether it is community college, traditional four-year, or vocational – higher education has become increasingly important to achieve personal financial security.

Submitted by Michelle Eichhorst, Public Policy Fellow for Michigan Nonprofit Association

Lifelong Engagement

Imagine a revitalized Michigan, filled with strong communities through the involvement and investment of active citizens, of all ages, in philanthropy and volunteerism. Currently, as a state, Michigan is uniquely poised and beginning to take strategic and deliberate steps in the development of these invested, involved citizens.

Michigan Nonprofit Association’s (MNA) Civic Engagement team is leading the way with the recent development of the Lifelong Engagement (LLE) Initiative. MNA’s Civic Engagement team is composed of its affiliates Michigan Campus Compact (MCC), Volunteer Centers of Michigan (VCM), and The LEAGUE Michigan. Each of these affiliates and their community partners work to support volunteerism, service as a strategy, and philanthropy for different age groups. The LEAGUE Michigan focuses on K-12, MCC on college student engagement, and Volunteer Centers serve the entire spectrum of ages.

The Lifelong Engagement Initiative was developed with one goal: foster collaboration between K – 12, higher education, and Volunteer Centers to promote civic engagement and volunteerism in such a way that individuals get involved and stay involved throughout their lives. For the first time, these organizations are strategically working together, at both the state and community level, to foster the development of lifelong, community focused, active citizens.

In just eight short months, progress is already being made to connect and develop the relationships, partnerships, and resources for a pipeline for civic engagement in Michigan, moving individuals through the continuum of lifelong service. Michigan Campus Compact’s Best in Class: Service Leadership Camp is, for the first time, being opened to high school seniors, exposing them to service at the college level. Steps are also being taken to build awareness among college students of the benefits (professionally, personally, and for the community) of continuing to be engaged after graduation, and how they can stay engaged by connecting with one of the many volunteer connector organizations spread throughout our state.

Invested and involved citizens are crucial to thriving communities. It is critical that we develop the awareness and systems to get individuals engaged, and keep them engaged. MNA is excited to be pioneering this initiative. If you would like more information, or would like connect with engaged K-12 schools, campuses, or Volunteer Centers in your community, please feel free to contact Geoff Hickox, Lifelong Engagement AmeriCorps*VISTA, at ghickox@micampuscompact.org.


Submitted by Geoff Hickox, Lifelong Engagement AmeriCorps*VISTA

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Honoring Civically Engaged College Students


To say that I felt inspired is an understatement. Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending Michigan Campus Compact’s Fifteenth Annual Outstanding Student Service Awards. At first glance, this event was similar to other awards ceremonies I have attended. Students and families ate lunch, received certificates and clapped for award winners. However, it was unlike any other awards ceremony I’ve attended when considering the great amount of energy and passion in the room. Thirty-eight private, public, two-year and four-year colleges from across the state came together to honor over 350 students for devoting their time and talents to building stronger, safer and more connected Michigan communities.

Keynote speakers, Neel Hajra, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Community Investment at the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and Bridget Clark Whitney, Executive Director of Kids’ Food Basket in Grand Rapids shared their respective paths of discovering service and committing to lifelong community engagement. I’m confident that students identified with these community leaders and could visualize such success for themselves.

From opening local food pantries, to planning campus-wide service projects, and coaching youth sports teams, our Michigan college students are making this state a better place to live. I encourage you to honor these students by getting involved in your own community today. Students’ stories encourage the spirit of service and should move you to action. To see the full list of award recipients and learn more about the Outstanding Student Service Awards go to www.micampuscompact.org/studentawards.aspx.


Submitted by Ashley Gulker, Program Specialist for Michigan Campus Compact and Volunteer Centers of Michigan.

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MCC AmeriCorps*VISTA Recruitment – Be a Part of the History

AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a full-time national service program for individuals who are interested in developing lasting solutions to the problems of poverty in America. VISTA members address poverty in communities by mobilizing community resources and increasing the capacity of the low-income communities. Members have been striving to create positive, long-term, sustainable change since 1965. VISTA is part of the AmeriCorps national network of service programs within the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The Michigan Campus Compact (MCC) AmeriCorps*VISTA program places members on Michigan campuses to act as transformative agents between higher education institutions and their surrounding communities. VISTA members create service opportunities and engage students in the community, in order to gain a richer and more valuable experience outside the classroom. They build mutually beneficial relationships, which lead to long‐term partnerships between community‐based organizations and colleges, enhance the quality of campus community service and service-learning programs, improve student leadership in service, increase the number of students coordinating programs, and increase the number of students in direct service within their campus communities. Through this indirect, capacity building work, MCC*VISTA members fight poverty in Michigan, and they do so with a lot of passion!

Michigan Campus Compact recruits college graduates who are committed to performing a voluntary year of national service. They are recruited, selected, and receive ongoing training by MCC staff, and they have varying backgrounds and professional goals. MCC*VISTAs are not necessarily experts in a specific field, but have typically had significant experience in college-level community service and/or service-learning programs. Having amazing VISTA members behind the work has been a key factor in running a successful VISTA program, and we are recruiting for those individuals right now!

We are looking for motivated, graduating college seniors, who are interested in (but not limited to) organizing campus and community-wide service projects, fighting poverty, working with faculty and staff to coordinate service-learning programs, recruiting and training student volunteers, gaining invaluable work experience, and receiving an education award to pay off loans/put toward further education. To further view what it means to be a VISTA in this program, please check out the video from our 2009-2010 MCC*VISTA cohort.

If you or someone you know are interested, please visit our website or contact Melissa Strapec at 517.492.2436 or mccvista@micampuscompact.org.

Submitted by Melissa Strapec, AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader for Michigan Campus Compact

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Michigan College Students Promote College Access to Youth

According to the U.S. Census, the percentage of Michigan citizens holding a bachelor’s degree or higher is 24.5%, which is below the national average of 27%. To increase this percentage, college access efforts need to reach underrepresented youth, such as those who are first in their families to go to college, or low income individuals. Michigan Campus Compact (MCC), an affiliate of Michigan Nonprofit Association, has developed a strategy to expose more youth to higher education and eventually increase the percentage of college graduates in Michigan through an initiative called “College Positive Volunteerism.”

The program is directed toward college students at MCC’s 42 member campuses who volunteer with K-12 youth, including serving as mentors, tutors, and student teachers. These college students are trained in the College Positive Volunteerism (CPV) curriculum to be intentional ambassadors of higher education, encouraging college enthusiasm and helping prepare K-12 youth for college. CPVs are equipped to provide youth with support and information about college preparation, career selection, and paying for college. Each trainee will receive a Toolkit of College Positive resources, as well as a website for further information. The College Positive Volunteerism program not only addresses the issue of Michigan’s need for higher education, but also encompasses the MCC mission of engaging college students in the communities around them.

For more information on how to get involved or receive CPV training please contact:
Michelle Snitgen
Msnitgen@micampuscompact.org
517-492-2439

Here is a short video on College Positive Volunteerism:

Submitted by Marilyn Beardslee, Michigan Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA.

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