By Nic Custer

Many students graduate college hoping to find a job in their desired field.

But some strategic thinkers, such as Charles Herzog, use their time on campus to position themselves for success the minute they earn their degrees.

Adil Mohammed (left) and Charles Herzog (right) discuss website content and design.

Charles, 24, graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint Computer Science department in May, knowing he made the most of his education. He transferred to campus from Mott Community College two years ago, graduated with his Bachelors degree and began a job with General Motors in Warren a week after graduation. He will be working as a software developer focusing on vehicle cyber security and vehicle-to-vehicle communication software.

While a student at Mott, Charles was approached by his Calculus professor. Vasu Iyengar asked if he wanted to work on building websites and mobile apps for Med+IT Systems LLC. It is a medical software and consulting company owned by Vasu and his business partner, Adil Mohammed.

Adil Mohammed runs the business in addition to a non-profit, American Muslim Community Services, out of the Innovation Incubator on the UM-Flint campus. He hired Charles, who worked in the co-work space of the Innovation Incubator in the Northbank Center when he wasn’t in class. Charles said, “I tend to get distracted at home” where he lived with his parents. He also found the breezeways on campus, where he used to study, made it hard to focus. He appreciated the quiet professional space of the Incubator, where he could spread out his work and focus. He said his experience in a co-work space helped him towards his goals.

By Nic Custer

President Schlissel

In March, U-M President Mark Schlissel met with Chancellor Susan E. Borrego at UM-Flint’s new EDA University Center for Community and Economic Development. Schlissel was able to see the new center’s main offices and better understand how the Economic Development Administration designation will help strengthen the campus and community. The center, which serves the I-69 Thumb Region, expands University Outreach’s economic development focus beyond Flint to the surrounding 7 county region including Shiawassee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Huron, Sanilac, Genesee and Tuscola counties. The center’s goal is to coordinate, inform and advance efforts to support innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship in the region. By focusing on entrepreneur training, workforce development, faculty and student research, regional asset mapping and developing an online resource portal, the UM-Flint CCED will be able to advance the region’s economic competitiveness and its residents’ access to data to help them make the best choices as they grow their businesses.

More information about UM-Flint’s EDA University Center for Community and Economic Development

By Nic Custer

5 Steps to Start Up Kickoff Event

As part of efforts to expand the reach of the Innovation Incubator, staff has taken the business training out into the community. Two business bootcamps have been recently offered to community members and students. 5 Steps to Start Up, a Procurement Technical Assistance Center-funded series, was held on UM-Flint’s campus and helped more than sixty business owners better understand customer acquisition, marketing, business finances and government contracting.

[IN] on the Road Teen Session at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint

[IN] on the Road, another workshop series, offers multiple free business bootcamps on the north and east sides of Flint. This program’s goal is to build up entrepreneurship knowledge in neighborhood residents. The Innovation Incubator-led project is funded by Ruth Mott Foundation. Each 5-session bootcamp is geared towards both teens and adults.

The curriculum brings financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills to the general community, which may have barriers to access traditional business planning services downtown. The program was held at Joy Tabernacle in Civic Park, Holmes STEM Academy and will be at Asbury United Methodist Church this June. An additional bootcamp exclusively for teens was held at Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint during spring break, funded by Michigan Small Business Development Center. Business counselors make themselves available to community members an hour before and after each session for 1-on-1 counseling. The program will culminate June 24 with a graduation celebration at Berston Field House. Participants will receive certificates of completion and young people will compete in an elevator pitch competition with up to 10 of them winning $500 towards starting the business. The Innovation Incubator hopes to work with clients beyond the life of the camp and is offering bus passes to clients without access to reliable transportation to help them attain services downtown after June.

Larry Nichols of the School of Management and Sara McDonnell of the Innovation Incubator present “Grants, Crowdfunding, and Financing: How to Fund your work and business”

Additionally, Outreach held an Arts and Social Entrepreneurship Symposium at the Flint Institute of Music and Flint Institute of Arts in March. This event brought together local arts entrepreneurs for a day of workshops and panel discussions. Keynote speakers included local printmaker Bill Stolpin and Aaron Dworkin, Sphinx Organization founder and dean of the U-M School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

Matt Kelterborn of the U-M Center for Social Impact and University Outreach Director Paula Nas with Martha Fedorowitz, Emily Futcher, Dean-Mark Clemente, the 2017 Social Impact Challenge grand prize winners.

The Social Impact Challenge finals were held at the symposium and mixed teams from Flint and Ann Arbor presented their ideas of how to better connect IN on the Road’s neighborhood entrepreneurs with a new Ferris Wheel innovation hub downtown. The $2,500 grand prize was awarded to student team, Innovation to Impact.

 

 

 

 

 

By Maria Salinas

The University of Michigan-Flint and the Beecher School District partnership completed the first half of a two part College and Career Readiness Program when 60 kids from Beecher’s junior class were hosted on campus on Wednesday, March 22 as part of the school district’s three day SAT Preparation Boot Camp. UM-Flint students in the secondary education teaching certificate program were key contributors to the success of the SAT Camp which was coordinated by UM-Flint Neff Center staff member, Maria Salinas, and staff from Beecher High School. The second half of the College and Career Readiness Program will occur later this spring when the same Beecher students will come back to the campus for a two-day college immersion experience coordinated by the Neff Center in partnership with UM-Flint Admissions and various academic departments that will assist Beecher students exploring possible career pathways.

Beecher’s SAT Boot Camp was held on Monday, March 20-Wednesday, March 22 during regular school day with the first two days being held in the school district and the final culminating day on the UM-Flint campus.  Beecher High School staff, Mrs. Treva Daniels-Carlson and Mr. Matt Adams with participation from Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) staff member, Mrs. Ferguson, led the event with a focus on test preparation and content skills. UM-Flint students that contributed to multiple portions of the three day agenda included student teacher, Ms. Maggie Hudkins, who led math review.  Three Secondary Education students, Susan Geisler, Courtney Ruggles, and Madeline (Maddie) Wohlfeil, created and facilitated SAT Jeopardy, taught reading strategies, proctored the Grammar Test, and went over the answers with the Beecher students.

The Camp also incorporated college readiness activities and mindfulness lessons.  Partners from Mott Community College Closing the Achievement Gap and the UMHS Regional Alliance for Health Schools (RAHS) assisted Neff Center staff with these elements.  Motivational speakers were brought and included Ms. Lisa Sarno, Social Worker with the UM RAHS, Mrs. Simone Lightfoot, Director of Urban Initiatives with the National Wildlife Federation, Marquise Gray, 21st Century Coordinator, Beecher Varsity Basketball Coach, MSU Star, and Beecher alumnus, and Courtney Hawkins, BCSD Athletic Director, Star Athlete, and Beecher alumnus.

This is the 4th year that the UM-Flint Neff Center has supported Beecher through the SAT (formerly ACT) Boot Camp and the first year the school district incorporated the activities into the school day.  The camp and the Career Pathways college immersion trip supported in part by a GISD Greater Flint Educational Consortium (GFEC) CARE Grant awarded to Beecher School District.  The GFEC works cooperatively with local districts, post-secondary partners, and community organizations to develop and implement cooperative efforts which facilitate sharing of information and resources to improve student success, and pursue quality and equity of educational opportunities for all members in the GISD service area.

UM-Flint students interested in work-study positions as tutors in the Beecher School District can contact Maria Salinas at masalina@umflint.edu or 810-640-8243.

By Gary Ashley

This year, 67 students and staff participated in Alternative Spring Break (ASB) from February 26-March 4, 2017. 

Through IMPACT Days and STAY-cation programs at the University of Michigan-Flint, participants engaged in local community service in the city of Flint. ASB worked with 9 community partners to provide service sties for participants addressing the social issues of homelessness/hunger, women’s advocacy, community wellness, urban renewal, poverty/public service, and education. This year, ASB also partnered with local community organizations including Weiss Advocacy, Salvation Army and more to provide on-site education sessions for participants. Based on the feedback received, taking students to sites instead of bringing speakers to campus proved to be a positive, powerful and eye opening experience. In addition to educational activities and service, STAY-cation participants spent the week immersing themselves in downtown Flint. While staying at the First Presbyterian Church of Flint, students ate at local restaurants and participated in group activities which allowed them to further enrich their ASB experience. 

In addition to the traditional local ASB in Flint, 10 University of Michigan students and staff from the Dearborn and Flint campuses spent their week serving in Muskegon, MI as part of a multi-campus initiative made possible by a Bicentennial Grant.  During the week, this group worked with Community Compass and the Muskegon/Oceana Community Action Partnership where they painted, organized, talked with the clients, and more! This unique opportunity allowed students from across the campuses to engage in meaningful community service, learn about another city, network with a diverse group of students, and create lifelong memories. Raquel E. from the Dearborn campus said “It is very powerful to meet people from the same university and that share the willingness to make something to help to improve this world”.

University Outreach provided research support to the Flint & Genesee County Opportunity Youth Coalition by identifying federal grant programs available to fulfill their vision that “Flint & Genesee Opportunity Youth will have the resources and support to succeed in education, career, and life.”

It is estimated that nearly 10,000 people in Genesee County, ages 16-24 are not in school or employed. This number represents 19% of all Genesee County youth (Opportunity Index, 2016). Collectively known as ‘Opportunity Youth’, these young people hold a tremendous amount of potential to complete their education and contribute to the local economy.

The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, coordinates the Opportunity Youth Coalition and met with University Outreach in summer of 2016 to assist with data collection to further define where and who these 10,000 young people are. The report, published in March 2017, includes details on geography, gender, income, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, dependents, and homelessness. The report also details the federal funds that currently flow into Genesee County for job training, education, housing, childcare, and healthcare services.

University Outreach staff member, Sara McDonnell worked with UM-Flint students Paige Tiedeman and Elizabeth Sims, and faculty member Kasie Nickel-White, to complete the research. UM-Flint student, Paige Tiedeman, spent nearly six months collecting data about Flint and Genesee County’s Opportunity Youth, and the types of federal grant opportunities that could be sought after by the Coalition to support young people in completing their education, and preparing for and securing gainful employment.

Read the Full Report

Learn more about the Flint and Genesee Opportunity Youth Coalition

By Gary Ashley

asb-2016

As a public institution, the University of Michigan has a responsibility to the state of Michigan, its history, and its people. Each of the three University of Michigan campuses find ways to honor this responsibility through teaching, learning, and service. As coordinators who oversee the respective Alternative Spring Break programs on the Flint, Dearborn, and Ann Arbor campuses, we saw the University’s Bicentennial Celebration as a unique opportunity to engage students from the three campuses together in a high impact learning experience centered on service within community in a way that has not been executed before.

Typically, Alternative Breaks engage small groups of students from the same campus with similar interests in service and volunteerism in an experience that yields intrapersonal awareness, interpersonal skills, and deeper understanding of the world (Jones, et. al., 2012). This project will bring together a diverse group of 30 students from all three campuses to learn from and with each other. Facilitated by a group of three student leaders (one from each campus), they will work to learn about their role in addressing community issues within the state of Michigan while directly meeting community-identified needs. We will be working on the west side of Michigan. Once the community partners have been confirmed, we will determine the social issue that these experiences will explore.

southwesternBy Nic Custer

After two years of planning, more than 100 Flint Southwestern Academy students put the final touches on a wetland restoration project next to their school. The 150-foot-long excavated site was designed and constructed as part of University Outreach’s Discovering Place program and will retain rain and snow melt to create a plant and animal habitat and outdoor learning space. Rows of donated pine trees were also planted behind the site by students.  Discovering Place works with Flint-area teachers to implement place-based education projects connecting students’ curriculum requirements with their surroundings.

Teachers Linda Heck and Kim Hatfield have worked with Discovering Place for the past five years using the place-based education program to expand the connections between in-class lessons and real world examples. Over the years, students worked with Genesee County Conservation District staff to learn about the importance of wetlands for people, animals and water retention. The project, which aligns with green and blue infrastructure goals in the Flint master plan, was an important collaboration between the city of Flint and community stakeholders as well, according to City Planner Adam Moore. He said the project is part of a city strategy to responsibly maintain the city’s more than 1,800 acres of parkland.

southwestern-academy-018Hatfield said the pool gives students a sense of ownership of the space having been involved in the design and physical work to change the grass to a wetland. She said it is also great that students who couldn’t help build the site will be able to benefit from the site long after it is completed.

By Nic Custer

UM-Flint Social Work professor Todd Womack has been creating important multi-semester partnerships through his SWK 304- The Urban Context course at Joy Tabernacle Church in Flint’s Civic Park neighborhood. The goal of the course is to provide social work students with a real world, understanding of historical, economic, political and demographic issues that affect urban populations in the U.S., with a focus on Flint in particular.

swk-30401

Professor Todd Womack leading his students in a discussion about how to best address community needs

This semester the class has partnered with Civic Park residents who are trying to create neighborhood-scale food and beautification businesses. University Outreach’s Innovation Incubator has been working with the social work students, not only to explain some of the necessary components of a successful business but also to teach them how to help residents build their own business model and create a start-up cost analysis that will help community members prepare to launch their ventures.

swk-30402

Innovation Incubator staff member Nic Custer explaining a start-up cost analysis to Social Work students

The class culminated in a presentation for community members at the end of the semester, where students were able to dialogue with stakeholders and present their final projects. Community partners will continue to develop their neighborhood businesses in the Winter semester through an ongoing teaching partnership with the Innovation Incubator.

civic-park-rectangleHas your office or department ever considered a day of service? On August 4, 2016 nearly 40 Human Resources staff from the University of Michigan-Flint and the University of Michigan Ann Arbor came together to serve alongside each other in the Flint community. University Outreach played a key role in identifying strategic partnerships, leading reflection and overall planning coordination of the day.

The first group served at Our Savior Lutheran Church, on N. Saginaw St. Volunteers handed out bottled water and water filters to residents, helped out with the food pantry, did weeding, cleaned up trash, and helped fix a swing.

civic-park-400The second group worked in the Civic Park area. Volunteers put mulch down, painted curbs, planted grass seeds, watered plants, painted a fire hydrant and did a general trash pickup.

The third group was at the Early Childhood Development Center at the University of Michigan-Flint. This group worked with the children on several projects and walked with them to the Flint Farmers’ Market as the youngsters learned about nutrition.

This is a great example of the Flint and Ann Arbor campuses working together on a civic engagement project that aligns with the Flint Master Plan.