In winter 2008, University of Michigan-Flint’s University Outreach staff received a grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust to plan for the creation of an educational and resource exchange initiative to serve Flint-area teachers and community members. The Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI), a program under the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, connects schools and communities through the concept of place-based education (PBE). With PBE, students learn academic content while studying issues or problems of local importance. This approach builds enthusiasm for learning and results in higher academic achievement. GLSI features three components: place-based education, sustained professional development for K-12 teachers, and school-community partnerships.

Administrators and teachers from Westwood Heights School District and Beecher Community Schools, community leaders, community-based organizations, and non-profits were involved in the participatory planning process that created the Flint Confluence Initiative, an education initiative that meets local needs.

The Flint Confluence Initiative Provides Support to Flint-Area Teachers to Engage in Community Development Projects with Youth.

The grant awarded to the Flint Confluence Initiative will help teachers and community-based organizations to be leaders in urban-issue PBE that centers on topics such as urban food production, green building, land restoration, etc. The Flint Confluence Initiative will provide leadership, expertise, support for classroom teachers, and material and financial resources for the collaborative, community-based work of local organizations and K-12 schools in their regions. The 20 month implementation period is underway and includes 12 teachers from six elementary, middle and high schools in the Beecher and Westwood Heights school districts.