Students Helping Others Through Service

On March 24, 2012 the Fifth Third Bank and Detroit Red Wings service initiative, Students Helping Others Through Service (SHOTS), came to a close. SHOTS was a program that encouraged southeast Michigan high school students to invest their time, talent and treasure in their communities. Groups of up to 6 students and an adult supervisor registered for the project, committing to at least one service project between October and February. Each month, the groups could submit their project to a panel of judges, and a monthly winner was selected, receiving a pizza party and a chance at the grand prize – iPads and money towards future service projects.

On Saturday, five groups of students gathered from all over Southeast Michigan. Each group had a chance to present their project to the judges. Whenever a group returned to the ‘holding room’, the other groups cheered and greeted them, asking how everything went and learning about new service ideas. Suburban and urban kids, though there to compete with each other, found themselves building new, lasting friendships with students they may not have met otherwise. After all groups presented, the students enjoyed a pizza party, a ride on the Detroit People Mover, and ice cream. Once all the festivities concluded, the groups settled into their seats to watch the Red Wings 5-4 win over Carolina.

Each service project was unique, creative, and led by the students. The Interact Club at Airport High School (Carleton, MI) put together Thanksgiving care baskets for cancer patients. Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Southgate Anderson HS (Southgate, MI) sold colored lanyards to help raise money for breast cancer research, animal cruelty prevention and support for kids with leukemia. Detroit Edison Public School Academy Early College of Excellence (Detroit, MI) collected coloring books and crayons for Children’s Hospital and donated 590 pounds of food to Gleaners Community Food Bank. Students at Davison High School (Davison, MI) handmade 190 Valentine’s Day cards and held a Valentine’s Day party at a local senior residential facility.

But it was a group of young men from Detroit that secured the grand prize. The Loyola Leaders for Others group, based at Loyola High School, baked hundreds of homemade cookies, and distributed them, along with blankets and warm clothing, directly to the homeless in Cass Corridor in Detroit on Christmas Eve. Each student received an iPad, and the group as a whole received at check for $530 to use towards future service endeavors. Congratulations to this great group of young men and future leaders!

To encourage all of the finalists to continue their service efforts, Fifth Third Bank is giving each of the other four groups a check for $253 to help support their next projects. All in all, the 2011-2012 SHOTS program was a great success, and Fifth Third Bank, The Detroit Red Wings and The LEAGUE Michigan are excited to see what wonderful projects happen next year!

Submitted by Heather Jones, AmeriCorps*VISTA, The LEAGUE Michigan

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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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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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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How Can We Help?

We, like many other nonprofit organizations, are getting questions about “How can we help the relief efforts in Haiti?” Many ideas have been talked about. Volunteering. Collection drives for items such as different types of supplies, blankets and food. Financial donations. What is truly needed the most at this time?

A financial donation is the answer.
Yes I know my main job duty is to raise money but there are reasons why a financial donation is best at this time. Some of the reasons are:
• Financial donations allow professional disaster relief organizations to buy exactly what is needed most urgently.
• A financial gift allows the responding organizations the ability to purchase goods locally, thereby, helping to kick start the economy following a disaster. Even following a disaster, organizations are able to purchase needed supplies locally or from surrounding countries much closer than the United States.
• Financial gifts do not have transportation costs to them. What does this mean? If you are collecting items to donate to the efforts, those items then must be shipped to the affected area. There is an additional cost related to this activity.
• Financial donations are also used by relief organizations to hire local people, directly impacted by the disaster, to use their individual skills and talents to help rebuild the area. This again helps spur the local economy and help local residents get back on their feet sooner.

For additional information on why financial donations work best, you can read this recent blog posting on the Mercy Corp web site. You can also check the Center for International Disaster Information for even more reasons why financial donations are best.

For those who want to volunteer.
Do not worry. There will be plenty of time to volunteer and help the long-term rebuilding efforts in Haiti. This disaster will not fix itself in the next month. You will have abundant opportunities to volunteer if you should so desire. Contact organizations who are working there now and let them know you want to come and help and what your skills are. Different skills will be needed at different points in time. Then wait for your call and be ready to respond.

Many of you may also be wondering what organizations are providing assistance with the relief efforts in Haiti. CNN has put together a list of organizations you can contact to find out how you can best help them fulfill their most urgent needs to be able to respond most effectively and efficient.

Also, just as we saw following Hurricane Katrina, you may be contacted by nonregistered organizations saying they are helping to provide relief efforts in Haiti. Always be careful who you donate money to for these types of projects. For tips on being a savvy donor, check out the “Giving Wisely – Helping Michigan Citizens Be Savvy Donors” guide. Also remember, the best donor is an educated donor.

Finally, Haiti’s troubles did not start on Tuesday night when the earthquake first struck. Many in Haiti have been suffering in a continual state of poverty for years. This is the same as in many other areas of the world as well. Let this serve as your call to action. Spread the word and help ensure that long-term development efforts in Haiti and other countries begin today.

Submitted by Marc Melton, Director of Development for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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