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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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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BINS “4” TINS


Carson City-Crystal 6th grade students got creative this year when asked what they would like to do for Global Youth Service Day (GYSD). They responded, with great enthusiasm, that it would be nice to start a recycling program that could involve the students and the community. With the help of their teacher, Ann Cunningham and The LEAGUE Michigan AmeriCorps*VISTA, Julie Anderson, the 6th graders developed a plan to collect domestic tin cans at their school and take them to the salvage yard.

During a student led discussion on what they wanted to come out of their recycling project, the students decided they wanted the community to participate and started brainstorming ideas on how they could be involved. From their discussion the students wanted to include the local Hospital by purchasing a couple bins to put in their kitchens to use as collection containers. They also decided that they would set up a recycling day, one day per week, where community members could drop off their cans to the school recycling station throughout the school day. Next the students discussed what they were going to do with the money from the salvage of the tin cans and how they would be able to tie this project to classroom curriculum. The students determined they would set up an account through the school called the environmental initiative account and use the money collected from the salvage to expand the current Bins “4” Tins project and also to help fund future GYSD projects. The project was tied into the classroom by researching the salvage trade and the students invited a guest speaker to come in to teach them about the salvage process and the 6th graders will use that information to educate other students in their school. They then established a tracking system to catalog their efforts by graphing the weight totals of each salvage trip and charting the fluctuating exchange rate in the cash to metal ratio. By doing this they will be able to track how much waste has been collected each year and how much profit they made.

In order to do all of this the students needed to find a way to raise money to purchase the bins for the waste stations and applied and received a, Global Youth Service Day mini grant from The League Michigan, Michigan Community Service Commission and Youth Serve America to support this initiative. In preparation of the launch of this initiative, the students prepared the school grounds for the recycling station by spending the day raking and sweeping the area where the station would be housed and contacted the local newspaper as an avenue to help promote their program to the community. Already, students are bringing in their cans on a daily basis!

To learn more about Bins “4” Tins please contact Julie Anderson at (989) 584-3175, ext. 3286 or janderson@carsoncity.k12.mi.us and check out the article in the Greenville Daily News used to promote Bins “4” Tins at Carson City-Crystal Middle School!

Submitted by Julie Anderson, The LEAGUE Michigan AmeriCorps*VISTA – Carson City-Crystal

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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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 Redistricting Collaborative

Yesterday, the Michigan Nonprofit Association, the Center for Michigan, the League of Women Voters of Michigan, Common Cause Michigan, Michigan Voice and Michigan Campaign Finance Network – amongst other nonprofit organizations – joined at the Capitol for a press conference to announce the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative. The Michigan Redistricting Collaborative is a coalition of nonpartisan nonprofits working to educate nonprofits and the public about the need to change the redistricting process. The collaborative holds that:

• The process used for redistricting must be transparent to the public;
• The redistricting process, at all levels of government, must provide data, tools and opportunities for the public to have direct input into the specific plans under consideration by the redistricting body;
• The redistricting process must be structured to promote fair, competitive and representative districts; and
• The involvement of nonprofits, as trusted assets in communities, is key to raising awareness about the need for redistricting reform.

The current redistricting process in Michigan allows elected officials with vested interests to work behind closed doors to draw district lines. In the past, this has lead to uninformed citizens, elections that are not competitive, and has reduced the power of voters to send messages to elected officials. Redistricting is not only an issue that effects statewide elections, but elections at the local level as well. Because the redistricting process has an impact on how citizens are represented on all levels, the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative encourages a process that is open and fair to the public.

To learn more or join the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative, please visit www.drawthelinemichigan.org.

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

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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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Member Perspective: Summer in the City: Empowering students to create change

Story developed for the Michigan Nonprofit Story Bank.

Summer began, school was out, and students took to the streets of Detroit. They took to these streets in an organized effort to volunteer, clean, and serve others. United under the local nonprofit Summer in the City, these students took on countless projects to improve their community, including painting murals, rehabbing playground equipment, and planting and maintaining community gardens.

Summer in the City (SITC) is an organization designed to improve and explain community service in metropolitan Detroit, by offering community service projects that are fun, flexible, and fulfilling for high school students during their summer vacations.

SITC began in 2002. Founders Ben Falik, Mike Goldberg, and Neil Greenberg identified a need to locate service opportunities in Metro Detroit that were accessible to students. SITC engages high school students in a life-long commitment of service while connecting youth from the suburbs with youth from the inner-city to contribute to the revitalization of the City of Detroit.

SITC couldn’t accomplish their effort without the involvement of community partners. In fact, the program has developed more than 40 different partnerships with nonprofits, schools, neighborhood groups, and city departments to provide meaningful and successful service opportunities for the youth of Detroit. Each year, volunteers contribute more than 25,000 hours of service towards Summer in the City projects.

One key aspect that has allowed SITC to retain volunteers is their partnership with Michigan Campus Compact and Michigan Service Scholars (MSS) AmeriCorps Education Award program. The MSS program has allowed SITC to provide a sustainable infrastructure to create future leaders of positive social change. Many individuals start as a volunteer, become an unpaid intern or MSS member in college, and continue as a paid staff member as a new graduate. This structure makes it possible to empower young people in Michigan while harnessing their energy, ideas, and entrepreneurial spirit.

As classes drew to a close, students made firm commitments to contribute to the continued development of Detroit through Summer in the City. Placing students in volunteer roles through their network of community partners, SITC deploys one of Detroit’s most powerful resources: their youth.

To learn more about Summer in the City, visit www.summerinthecity.com. Summer in the City has been a MNA member since 2010.

If you are interested in learning more about leveraging the power of student volunteers, visit www.MNAonline.org/leaguemichigan.aspx.

All MNA members can feature their story in our online storybank. If your member organization would like to be featured in any upcoming MNA publication, contact Bill Gesaman, Director of Member Services at 517-492-2416 or bgesaman@MNAonline.org

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