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 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

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

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