by Mary Black
UM-Flint FYE students team up with the Center for Hope to help raise awareness about Flint’s homeless population
During the fall 2014 semester, students in two UM-Flint First Year Experience (FYE) classes, “I am UM-Flint” and “So U Want to Change the World” partnered with Jon Manse, director of community services for Catholic Charities of Shiawassee & Genesee Counties to help raise awareness about Flint’s homeless population and develop social media fundraising campaign projects.
Students in the “I am UM-Flint” class worked with local community members on a PhotoVoice project to help raise awareness about the homeless population in Flint. Students worked closely with community members that utilized the services provided by the Catholic Charities’ Center for Hope in downtown Flint throughout the semester.
Community members were provided disposable cameras and asked to take photos of their daily lives in Flint over a one week period. At the end of the week, each community photographer chose one photograph that best told his or her story about living in Flint. Students then worked with the photographers to record and share their stories about living and working in Flint and what the Center for Hope meant to them.
Using the photos and stories collected through the “I am UM-Flint” PhotoVoice project, students in the “So U Want to Change the World” class worked in groups to develop a social media campaign with the goal of raising one million dollars for the Center for Hope. Each student group created an unique social media campaign strategy around the “Million Donors, Million Dollars” campaign theme that asked people to give one dollar each and encourage their friends, family and community members to do the same.
The projects culminated with a community event held at the Center for Hope. Students in the “I am UM-Flint” class introduced their community photographers and shared their photographs and stories with the audience. Afterward, students in the “So U Want to Change the World” class presented their “Million Donor, Million Dollar” fundraising projects.
These projects illustrate how service-learning and civic engagement help UM-Flint students engage with the Flint community in new and exciting ways, while contributing to the great work of community leaders and organizations like Jon Manse and Catholic Charities of Shiawassee & Genesee Counties.