University Outreach’s innovation Incubator is leading the way for innovation and creativity with the INspire Conference on Social Entrepreneurship on Friday, October 12, 2012.

And what a great line-up we are planning!

The speakers and topics of sessions were chosen to foster creativity, sustain positive technological and social innovation, and celebrate student and community successes.  For example:

  • Tunde Wey of Detroit will speak on Crowdfunding
  • Glen Foyelle will hold a workshop on Design Innovation
  • Phillip Jacks will speak about the Peace Mob Garden social movement and Urban Homesteading
  • Flint’s BEST Project will help participants determine if they should start a not-for-profit
  • Jason Kosnoski will lead a panel discussion: Social Change through Innovation and Organization
  • Amy Gresock will moderate a panel discussion: Ask the Entrepreneurs – in various stages of start-up
  • Traci Currie will lead a panel to discuss How to Creatively Take Your Art to the Masses
  • Up to 10 local social entrepreneurs will give short presentations, or poster sessions, about how their work has impacted the community

The conference is being coordinated through the University Outreach Innovation Incubator [IN], with support provided by the CS Mott Foundation.  University Outreach hosts programs that connect people to place, instill civic engagement, and help students think critically to discover how to participate in transforming their world.

The Innovation Incubator supports creativity and innovation to affect social progress. A good example of our constituency is PT HEART, a student-run pro-bono physical therapy clinic. UM-Flint physical therapy students volunteer their services to educate clients of the North End Soup Kitchen. The students have benefitted from the free workshops, networking opportunities, and co-working spaces of the Innovation Incubator that are also available to community members.

In the Innovation Incubator environment, learning and creativity can flourish, and expand into collaboration. Our participants are invited to enhance critical thinking skills; learn to manage conflict; experiment with design thinking; and collaborate to solve problems.  More information about University Outreach and the incubator can be found on our website at

Communication Department Chair Heather Seipke (right) stands with Professor Tony McGill as he accepts the award.

Congratulations to Professor Tony McGill, Lecturer IV in the Communication and Visual Arts Department, for being the recipient of the 2012 Community Leadership Award presented by Richfield Public School Academy (RPSA) & the City of Flint as a result of his service-learning classes!

For many years, Tony has challenged his senior-level communications students to apply what they have learned in their Professional Communication concentration to real-world service-learning projects with 3-4 community partners each semester. In each of the Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 semesters, a team of students in his capstone Senior Seminar in Professional Communications (COM 426) class mentored 7th and 8th graders in the RPSA Girls and Guys Leadership Club, building their skills and confidence.

Kathryn Hoover, the RPSA School Counselor, developed the nationally recognized mentoring program which involves peer mentoring, after-school youth clubs, and positive reward structures. In 2011, she asked University Outreach about the possibility of working with UM-Flint students in order to help her students see college as a possibility for their futures. Tony’s class was the perfect fit! Kathryn has been an energetic community partner and provided guidance to Tony’s students throughout the COM 426 service-learning project.

According to Kathryn, “Dr. McGill’s students represented the University of Michigan-Flint with the utmost of professionalism and integrity. They taught the material by also sharing personal experiences about themselves to help inspire our students. One of our students in the program has struggled greatly in the past and has even felt like life is not worth living. This student grew by leaps and bounds and said that their outlook on life completely changed and now looks forward to what the future holds. This is some powerful stuff! This program also enhanced the leadership ability of the college students.”

Upon receiving the 2012 Community Leadership Award, Tony shared this reflection: “It always surprises me when a student or alumnus tells me that the greatest learning experience they had in their undergraduate or graduate program was when I required them to do a service learning project. It does not surprise me that they found the experience so rewarding, what surprises me is the frequency with which I hear this. After well over 20 years of doing these projects I have come to believe that service learning projects are an integral part of higher education and an important responsibility of  each University of Michigan-Flint student, faculty, and staff employee.”

University Outreach thanks Kathryn Hoover and Mayor Dayne Walling for bestowing this award on Professor McGill, and appreciates the students who made such a difference at RPSA (Kevin Galloway, Ryan Garland, Dan Lynch, James Murphy, Randy Owens, and Julius Taylor).

The University of Michigan-Flint’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program enables students to learn about issues such as homelessness, poverty, hunger, violence, environmental issues, and complex social and cultural issues. Students listen to and understand community needs and continue a commitment to community service and social change. 2012 was the most successful year since the program began in terms of numbers of participants, sites, volunteer hours, etc. This year, instead of travelling to other areas to volunteer, the ASB board decided to stay back and serve with the Flint community. The focus areas included: education, homelessness and hunger, urban gardening, urban renewal, veterans, and underprivileged children.

At the sites this year, the participants impacted the community in various ways. Regardless if it was reading to elementary students in an inner city school, helping renovate a home for homeless veterans, or working in urban gardens, the participants made an enormous impact. Through the different sites, the participants were able to see different parts of the Flint community that needed help and many of them decided to continue their volunteer efforts after the week was over.


This year, our students donated their time at Alternative Veterans Solutions, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint, Carriage Town Ministries, Durant Tuuri Mott Elementary School, Flint River Farm, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Genesee County Habitat for Humanity, Salem Housing and Whaley Children’s Center. We had 69 individual students volunteer throughout the week of spring break, for a total of 211 service days. At 5 hours per day, the students donated approximately 1,055 hours throughout the week. According to the Independent Sector, these hours can be billed at $21.79 per hour for $22,988.45 worth of service. The University of Michigan-Flint students once again made colossal impact on the Flint community and beyond!

The one site that stuck out this year was the Alternative Veterans Solutions. The “Alternative Veterans Solutions was founded in 2010 on the belief that all veterans deserve to be honored and supported upon their return home from active duty. Our focus is to assist homeless veterans and those at-risk of becoming homeless by providing basic amenities and helping to connect those individuals with the training, education, counseling and rehabilitative services that they need. Alternative Veterans Solutions partners with federal, state and local agencies to offer a full range of services to area veterans. Together, we are working to break the cycle of homelessness while eliminating the barriers that veterans face in re-adjusting to civilian life.” For more information, please click on the following link: Alternative Veterans Solutions

Tredel Kennedy and Tina Harris are from the Flint area have devoted their lives to Alternative Veterans Solutions. They purchased a house on the Northwest side of Flint, and are currently re-modeling this house for homeless veterans. They have come to a standstill due to funding which is delaying the house from opening. The house is a 5 level house that can house up to 7 homeless veterans at a time. This project will help veterans get back on their feet, by offering them a stable place to live up to 18 months to get the ball rolling for them. Services will include building resumes, offering them school alternatives, finding jobs and offering them benefits that they might not concentrate on because of not having a home to live in.

We were able to work with Tredel and Tina to make their dream come true! Brandon Boone (ASB student and a student veteran here at the University of Michigan-Flint) made this project his personal mission to make this program work. Brandon and Bradley (Brandon’s brother) went to Michigan Works/Career Alliance work force development on day two of ASB and they spoke on a panel and stressed the issue of the transitional process for veterans coming home from active duty. This issue was seriously considered and they are working to acquiring 2,000 square feet of space from the Habitat of Humanity for a veterans center. They eventually hope to open a Veterans center open to the veterans and their families. The Student Veterans of America-Flint Chapter (SVA) is helping finish the project in hopes of meeting their deadline of opening in June. SVA will be conducting a house warming party, where community members can bring house items to the home from furniture, cloths and dishes. Also, they will be holding a spring clean-up, where Greek society members will be partnering with SVA in the landscaping of the house before the house opens to the 7 homeless veterans.

Congratulations to Professors Janet Haley (Theatre), Yu “Sunny” Kang (Public Health & Health Sciences) and Quamrul Mazumder (Computer Science, Engineering & Physics) – the 2012 Boyer Faculty Scholars in this inaugural year of the Boyer Faculty Scholars Program! The goal of this program is to deepen UM-Flint’s campus-wide conversations, practice and recognition of the scholarship of engagement. Scholarship of engagement is academically recognized research and creative projects that meaningfully address issues in the community and add to the body of knowledge.

By joining the program, these three faculty members have committed to each develop and implement exemplary community-engaged course or research project based on best practices, and share their insights from what they have learned in the program with the campus and community during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Janet’s project, called NOURISH, is an original place-based theatre production about the Flint Farmers’ Market and its role in the community.

Sunny is reworking her Long-term Care Administration (AGE 378) course to include class visits to a local long-term adult care provider to gain further knowledge and appreciation of health administration for older populations and to act as a consultant for the long-term care provider.

Quamrul’s project involves raising awareness and developing initiatives for renewable energy in partnership with his Special Topics in Engineering: Renewable Energy course, assessing the impact of community engagement on student learning and academic performance, and developing a local chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Exciting projects!

In addition to the faculty projects, one component of the program is the Boyer Scholars Speaker Series. The final workshop in this series, on the topic “Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR): Rationale, Principles, and How to Use a CBPR Approach” will take place on Friday, June 15th. For more information on the speaker series, please visit University Outreach’s Boyer Events

For more information

Boyer Faculty Scholars Program