I WILL: Part One

It is hard to believe, but on September 11, 2011, it will have been ten years since the attacks.

I remember the events like it was yesterday… It was my senior year in high school, and I was in Mr. Christner’s Amercia in the World Today class. In the middle of our lesson someone popped their head into the classroom, said what had happened (at that time only one plane that had crashed into one of the towers), and left. Mr. Christner quickly turned the television on and we watched as events unfolded for the rest of class.

Now, I am sure many of you are gawking at the fact my teacher let us watch what was happening, but I was (and still am) thankful he did. I am also thankful that I was taking that exact class, that exact year, at that exact time because the next day Mr. Christner dived into teaching about the different religions, countries, thoughts, perspectives and how they brought us to where America was at that time; it truly was America in the World Today. He provided information that was enlightening and he helped us fully grasp what had happened. His curriculum around September 11 also taught us not to stereotype, judge, or discriminate people who were Muslim or of Middle Eastern decent. The teachings and insight he provided were a steady ship amongst the unknown and panic that was happening around us. He taught us to be informed, knowledgeable citizens.

Now, ten years later September 11 is the National Day of Service and Remembrance. The website, 911day.org, is providing a way for people to pledge what they will do this year on September 11, whether it be a good deed, charitable activity, or other plans, to honor the 9/11 victims, survivors, and those that rose in service.

After thinking of all the different activities I could put into action for my 9/11 pledge, it all came back to Mr. Christner’s class. I will: continue to learn from those around me, seek the truth, and keep myself and others educated to help dispel stereotypes and prejudice.

As you think to the past and the future, what will you do on 9/11 in Tribute? Visit www.911day.org to post your commitment.

For more information: 911day.org, michigan.gov/volunteer

Submitted by Ashley Branoff, Communications Coordinator for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Peer-to-Peer: Challenges, the Obstacles of Our Generation

Detroit Edison Public School Academy is an advocate for the incorporation of service-learning into their school. The school was originally a K-8 school, which expanded its mission for the 2010-2011 school year by starting a high school with the addition of a 9th grade class. The administration has incorporated many initiatives into the 9th grades’ program to assist students in excelling as they move closer to their next phase in life. One initiative is a leadership group comprised of students who were selected by teachers and administrators who showed great leadership potential. This leadership group, will be created with every incoming 9th grade class, and will continue until their senior year. They are responsible for addressing the non-academic functions of their classmates by developing, not only lucrative social activities, but also opportunities to give back to their community through service projects.

In the planning for their May activity, the 9th grade group completed the “Whose Responsibility Is It?” lesson plan provided through the Learning to Give database. While moving through the different entities of the lesson plan, the leadership team stirred up the issues that surround the many “isms” (i.e. classism, racism, sexism, etc) that their generation faces today. They decided to address these issues by developing a forum that will allow them to discuss and educate their fellow classmates. The students of the leadership group felt the best way to grasp the attention of their peers during the forum was by creating controversial statements, these statements would force the students to have an open dialogue about the issue at hand. They decided to call them “I Am” statements and each of the twenty-two statements addressed one of the many topics selected by the leadership team. For example, an “I AM” statement on education would read, “I am a high school dropout, not because I cannot handle the academics, but because I had to take care of my home.”

The leadership group divided into three teams and developed two hour breakout sessions that included icebreakers, games, videos, pictures, skits, etc. where the overall goal was to have an effective discussion on each “I AM” statement. Everyone was very impressed with the leadership group’s ability to host an all day event for their fellow peers, all while engaging them in serious discussions to help challenge everyone as an individual. The leadership group felt a sense of accomplishment and they are ready to take it on again next year!

Submitted by Onjila Odeneal, The LEAGUE Michigan AmeriCorps*VISTA – Detroit

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End of an Era, or The Start of Something New

It is unbelievable that 4,000 people from around the country descended on New Orleans to either memorialize an era of remarkable achievement for volunteering and national service or to look to the future growth of this movement. I say unbelievable because this year’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service provided great content, great speakers, and untold opportunities to learn, serve and network with people who know and understand the power of service. This conference has been a bold joint convening hosted by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Points of Light Institute (POLI) – a relationship that has given rise to a number of highly successful mobilizing efforts including this, the largest gathering of leaders and practitioners in our sector.

Yet this relationship also leads to some strange scenarios like the one we witnessed last week in the Big Easy. While we celebrated the great work of thousands of volunteers who responded to the natural and man-made disasters that have plagued the Gulf Coast region, there was an underlying concern that a storm of a different kind waited just around the corner. And like the BP oil spill and levee failures that taxed the resources and spirit of the Gulf residents, the appropriations for the CNCS (or potential lack thereof) could be a tragic failure of our commitment and ingenuity.

Despite the dark cloud on the horizon that CNCS funding cuts represented, the thousands gathered were not, and could not, be empowered to have a robust dialogue on how to overcome this challenge. Why? Because the CNCS cannot be in a position to lobby its own constituencies in support of their own existence. Strange, yet true. So, while conservative icon and successful Governor Haley Barbour thanks the national service field for coming to the rescue of Mississippi, participants are left to say, you’re welcome and not, you’re welcome and please tell your friends. As a POLI board member, I felt somewhat like the married couple that doesn’t talk about the challenges brought on by the in-laws. On the one hand they can be troubling and meddlesome, and on the other, without them, neither of us would be here.

Next year’s conference will be held in Chicago, and will not be in partnership with the CNCS. Correctly, in my opinion, the CNCS has decided not to renew its contract with the POLI and seek other means to provide professional development opportunities for grantees that may or may not involve the Chicago gathering. I concur with their decision because it will allow them to demonstrate that they are making prudent and careful future decisions on their resources that a national conference with high profile champions could give lawmakers a chance to call into question.

We have to convince our support network to communicate the tremendous value of our mutual work and the need for financial support of our cause. This summer is an excellent time to engage elected officials in their districts and educate and explain the power, impact, and genuine need for national service, especially as we seek to make every public dollar go further. If we don’t, we may well have celebrated the end of an era in the Crescent City rather than realizing the dawn of a new beginning.


Submitted by Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO, for the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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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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Romulus Community Schools Partners with Poured-Out

Romulus Community Schools are saving lives through service, service-learning, and philanthropy education. Students from Romulus have partnered with Poured-Out to provide bio-water filters to Haiti and other underdeveloped countries. Poured-Out is a local organization that partners with Michigan-based companies to produce bio-filters, as well as, educate and provide job opportunities to young adults in underdeveloped communities. The U.S. Navy, free of charge, ships the filters to country’s that lack a clean water source. The partnership between Poured-Out, Michigan based companies and the U.S. Navy provides schools and villages with purified drinking water. Individuals in these countries suffer from disease and illnesses caused by water they ingest. One filter, at $115 provides 1,000 gallons of water per day, which helps reduce the number of illnesses and deaths caused by unsafe drinking water.

Josh Baker is an active board member and teacher at Romulus High School. His class spearheaded the initiative and raised money to purchase a water filter for a school in Haiti. Students used research methods and created PowerPoint presentations to spread awareness throughout the community. Romulus High School students are using curriculum content to serve the community by identifying a need and developing plans to make an impact. For example, Loren Adams is a Romulus High School student who helped build a solar purification system, which incorporates mechanical science. The collaboration between Romulus High School and Poured-Out provided more than 200,000 gallons of water for Haitian communities, and the numbers are expected to grow.

On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, Wick Elementary School students are hosting an informative science fair to present experiments and educate the community about water pollution. The event will also raise funds to provide clean water for communities around the world. Funds raised by Romulus Community Schools will further the outreach in foreign countries and also contribute to relief effort s and the water purification process to victims of tornadoes in Alabama. Students in Romulus are using service, service-learning, and philanthropy education to change lives!

For more information about how you can get involved, visit www.poured-out.org. Romulus Community Schools will post project updates on the Poured-Out blog, located on the Poured-Out website.


Submitted by Lianna Taylor, The LEAGUE Michigan AmeriCorps VISTA – Romulus

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The Path of Least Resistance?

What do voters think about the current budget debates at the state and federal levels? If we go by the major headlines, we want cuts to the public budgets and no new taxes. Or do we?

Now that the realities of the proposed cuts are coming into focus, it is unclear if the budgets proposed so far actually meet the expectations of the public that will be impacted by the changes. Such is the nature of major change—it all looks good from afar, but when it comes to our own sacrifices, we see ours as too large and others as too small.

The gridlock at the federal level with the near-federal government shutdown will be amplified as Congress and the White House debate the 2012 budget. But we are now realizing the cuts of the current budget compromises. Included in those, hidden away in the obscure portion of the Labor Health and Human Services budget, is a small dollar amount cut with large implications—the elimination of funding for Learn and Serve America funds. These are important dollars that help young people not only learn experientially (especially important for those “hard to reach” students), but also promote the school climates we all agree are important to quality learning.

At the state level, a small cut of $675,000 in the massive Department of Human Services budget will not only eliminate all support for the Michigan Community Service Commission, but also turn away more than $13 million in federal funding for national service programs all across Michigan.

To balance our state budget, lawmakers are proposing the elimination of tax credits that have leveraged millions to help local communities through community foundations, food pantries, homeless shelters, arts organizations, and colleges and universities.

Do voters really believe that eliminating support for sound, proven, affordable (bordering on cheap) programs that solve problems that government cannot afford to address directly makes any sense? We may never know, because there is little talk about what the voters actually want.

The Center for Michigan has been working hard to identify what Michiganders want to see in a Michigan budget, but few if any of their suggested reforms have received enough support. They have even developed a tool for citizens to identify how they would balance the budget.

A flood of recent polling indicates that voters are not supporting many of the proposed cuts to programs. Slate Magazine reports all political ideologies oppose the cutting of Medicare – 92% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans, 75% of Independents, and 70% of Tea Party Members. Regarding revenues, the recent Gallop poll shows that Americans do not want lawmakers to remove charitable incentives.

Clearly there is a strong sense that people know that changes are necessary, but the proposals on the table are largely looking to impose change on those least likely to present strong opposition as opposed to changes the voters are telling pollsters they would like to see.

At no other time is the voice of the nonprofit sector more necessary than now.


Submitted by Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO, for the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Proposed Cuts Would Undermine Nonprofit Sector’s Work

The status of the state budget in Michigan has been a hot issue over the last few weeks, as legislators work to create a balanced budget. While we know that some cuts are inevitable and that shared sacrifice is important, the proposed budget cuts to the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) and the total elimination of charitable tax credits will have a negative impact on the nonprofit sector as a whole.

If funding for the Michigan Community Service Commission is zeroed out, as the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the Department of Human Services proposed, Michigan risks losing $13.3 million in federal funds that are leveraged by MCSC. The elimination of MCSC’s budget, a total of $675,000 per fiscal year, is not worth losing those federal funds – the math simply does not make sense. MCSC brings money into Michigan while providing important services for the community, like placing more than 1,200 AmeriCorps members who work tirelessly to strengthen Michigan communities.

The governor’s proposed budget also includes another big hit to nonprofits: the elimination of charitable tax credits. This proposed tax plan, which includes this budget cut, just passed the House by a slim margin and will move to the Senate for a vote. The state’s potentially small gain in revenue (less than $50 million/year) will be dwarfed by the negative impact of denying nonprofits of the leverage they need to multiply and diversify their donations through individual giving tax credits. Without providing encouragement for donations, Michigan’s nonprofit sector will see less charitable giving, further straining their efforts to assist and develop Michigan communities.

With these devastating proposals looming, organizations and individuals throughout the state need to tell their legislators they oppose these budget changes that will negatively affect the nonprofit community. Decreasing nonprofits’ capacity to serve communities is not the answer to the budget problems in our state.

Michigan Nonprofit Association is spearheading the effort to get organizations and individuals to sign-on to two separate letters – one opposing the elimination of charitable tax credits and the other to oppose the elimination of funding for MCSC. You can view both letters, and sign on to them, by visiting http://www.mnaonline.org/proposedbudgetcuts.aspx.

Undermining the nonprofit sector is not a successful strategy for the state’s budget. We encourage you to sign-on the letters to tell our lawmakers to oppose the elimination of charitable tax credits and the zeroing out of MCSC funding!

Submitted by Katie VanderVeen, Public Policy Fellow for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Save Service, Change Lives

Serving as an AmeriCorps member changed my life. I graduated from college at the beginning of the 2008 recession and AmeriCorps was one of the only jobs available to me. Little did I know that my time serving at a small community art center would impact my career path choices. I found such meaning and gained so many skills from my service that I have chosen to stay in the nonprofit sector, now working with the Michigan Nonprofit Association. This program opened doors for me, and now the federal government is considering cutting the funding. These are valuable programs. They make differences in the lives of your friends, neighbors and community. Please show your support for these programs. Below you will find an email circulated by Save Service, the campaign striving to protect this incredible resource in our country. Follow the steps and do your part to keep national service a part of our country’s legacy.

It’s time to Make the Call! Take five minutes RIGHT NOW and dial 1-855-US-SERVE (1-855-877-3783) to be connected directly to your US Senators and ask them to save funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Your voice is your vote for national service; with just days to go before the next continuing resolution runs out, we need our Senators to know their constituents continue to see this as a vital community resource that must be protected in final negotiations for the FY11 budget.

Tell them that cutting AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve and Senior Corps – cost-effective, highly-leveraged programs – will jeopardize jobs, economic investment and services in your state. Tell them how the opportunity to serve has made a difference in your own life, or how you’ve seen it make a difference in your community. Tell them in these final hours, we need their leadership and support on this issue now more than ever.

As a reminder, visit http://www.saveservice.org/ for talking points, voting records, and more.

Then follow these easy steps:
1. Dial 1-855-US-SERVE (1-855-877-3783) … It’s free and easy and will connect you directly to your Senator’s office.
2. Hang up and Call 1-855-US-SERVE a Second Time … you have two Senators!
3. Recruit a Friend to Call. Promote that you called on your Facebook page!
4. Let us know you Made the Call. Visit our reporting page.
5. Forward this email to your networks!

This week is critical for us to demonstrate yet again the strength and power of the national service community. Thank you for making the call, and for all you are doing to help us Save Service in America.

For more specific information on how these service programs affect Michigan, check out the MNA website: http://mnaonline.org/servicefunding.aspx

Submitted by Jessica Swisher, Administrative Assistant, Membership and Advocacy for the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Malcolm Mic Check Poetry Slam – Helping Students Thrive!

Alternative school students are kids who would fall through the cracks without additional support. Many of these students have family problems or other difficulties in their life that make them hard to connect with, resulting in a much higher dropout rate at alternative high schools, as compared to an average high school. At Malcolm Alternative High School in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, English teacher Amanda Fritz has made it her mission to reengage those “lost” students through service-learning. Fritz’s service-learning journey began after being invited by LEAGUE teacher, Tracy Menard, to The LEAGUE Michigan’s 2010 Youth Philanthropy & Service Camp. Fritz was so inspired by her Camp experience that she went back to Sault Sainte Marie to infuse her curriculum with service-learning.

One of the main experiences from Camp that influenced Fritz’s new style of teaching was slam poet, Rafael Cassal. Cassal reached the youth through his honest words and unique style, while speaking on subjects ranging from body image to appreciating others for who they are. Fritz says, “It’s easy to bring slam poetry into the classroom. So many of my kids have been through so much and slam poetry speaks to them on their level, about their life.” After introducing Cassal’s work in her English class, Fritz’s students were so inspired they wanted to hold their own poetry slam. The National Education Association Youth Leaders for Literacy Grant provided the students with an opportunity to do just that.

Malcolm Alternative High School Senior, Cinnamon Cleary, took the lead on this and worked with Fritz and The LEAGUE Michigan VISTA, Chrystal Gubanche, to apply for the $500 grant to hold the Malcolm Mic Check Poetry Slam and won! “If you want kids to read, you have to bring it to them. They have to believe in what they’re reading and it has to mean something,” Cleary said about her grant project. Cleary and Fritz worked hard to create a replicable service-learning lesson plan to tie this fun and interesting event back to the classroom. High school students from across the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan will choose a personally relevant social issue, read a book about the issue and submit a summary and analysis of the book. Students will then create a slam poem speaking out about the issue they’ve chosen and will compete at the Malcolm Mic Check Poetry Slam on April 16, 2011. Students will have a chance to win a new Kindle and other prizes donated by area businesses.

For more information on this event, please contact Chrystal Gubanche at cgubanche@eup.k12.mi.us.

Submitted by Chrystal Gubanche, AmeriCorps Vista for The LEAGUE Michigan

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