by Mona Munroe-Younis

University Outreach is wrapping up the third year of the Boyer Faculty Scholars Program, which deepens the campus-wide conversation, practice, and recognition of scholarship of engagement at UM-Flint.boyer-faculty-2014

Since its beginning in 2012, the program has engaged 130 people (68 faculty, 25 staff, 22 community organization representatives, and 15 students) as participants in 10 professional development workshops related to scholarship of engagement and partnerships, as well as providing more intensive support to 13 faculty members through Boyer Scholar cohorts.

Members of the cohorts participate in a series of professional development sessions, develop signature community-engaged projects that show how scholarship of engagement can be done, and raise the visibility of scholarship of engagement through campus-wide and departmental presentations.

The signature projects of the most recent cohort of Boyer Faculty Scholars span across a range of disciplines and three of UM-Flint’s academic units, namely the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and Human Services, and the School of Health Professions and Studies.

Min-Hui Huang, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, developed a course in which her Physical Therapy students provided pro bono assessments of balance, mobility and fall risk to seniors living at Court Street Commons in Flint. As part of the partnership with Court Street Commons, the students’ assessments not only provided an opportunity for students to educate residents about how to improve their mobility and balance, but also formed the basis for referrals for clinical physical therapy services when needed.

Dan Lair, Assistant Professor of Communication, is leading a team of Communications faculty who will be teaching courses in the new Master in Applied Communication program in thinking about how to scaffold applied civic engagement projects throughout the graduate students’ academic program. As part of this work, Dan has forged a relationship with the City of Flint Planning Office, which will be partnering with the master program to engage students in year-long real communication projects that support the City in implementing its relatively new Imagine Flint Master Plan. The partnership is also exploring smaller-scale class project opportunities for the first year of the graduate students’ program.

Pamela Ross McClain, Assistant Professor of Education, adapted the capstone course she teaches for the Education Specialist graduate program to include a civic engagement component in order to support students in internalizing that civic engagement is part of the school leadership experience. The program prepares students to be executive leaders in the education field, such as school district superintendents. The capstone course requires each student to complete an action research project based on the challenges identified by Michigan school districts. Pam is also developing the C.A.R.E.2C.A.R.E. Model (Culturally Aware and Responsive Educators – Conducting Action Research in Education) to prepare future capstone students to work successfully in/with diverse communities.

Charlotte Tang, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, integrated service-learning into her 300-level Computer Science course and hired two Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) students to complete an applied project for the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA). Working in teams, the students surveyed guests of the FIA to learn about their needs and interests as FIA users and developed a set of recommendations for how to make the FIA exhibits and overall experience more interactive.

By Mona Munroe-Younis


We are excited to recognize the local nonprofit Motherly Intercession, and share how the UM-Flint community is and can work with this organization to create bright new futures for children with incarcerated parents. The organization’s vision is that the children will realize that their parent’s destiny does not have to be their own and chart successful career paths for themselves. 

A Passionate Grassroots Beginning

Shirley Cochran is the soft spoken and eloquent Founder and Executive Director of Motherly Intercession. Under her leadership, Motherly Intercession is hard at work to break the cycle of intergenerational incarceration. Mrs. Cochran essentially started the organization 15 years ago at Christmas time when she and her spouse wanted to support a family that could not be together during the holidays because the mother was incarcerated. She reached out to mothers who were held in the Genesee County Jail, and received 23 responses. As she went through the families’ applications, trying to determine who most needed her help, Mrs. Cochran could not pick one family over another. “In an effort to support all of the families, I solicited the assistance of five other community members, which quickly grew to 15 volunteers,” explained Cochran. 

What started as a hope to brighten the holiday of one family, soon grew into a volunteer-based network of support for children with incarcerated parents. This was the start of something bigger than any of the volunteers imagined, and they developed Motherly Intercession into a non-profit organization in 2001. After the holiday project, the group surveyed incarcerated mothers, and spoke with their children and alternate caregivers to understand their greatest unmet needs. They found that the most profound challenges the children faced were:

  • Family separation – children had not seen their mother since her incarceration 
  • Emotional trauma – separation anxiety with the sudden loss of a parent
  • Truancy – not attending school, dropping out or failing school
  • Detrimental behavior – shoplifting, rebellious attitudes or entering the juvenile system   

The volunteers quickly realized that the families’ needs far exceeded the capacity of the community to respond, because no agencies in existence at the time were dedicated to this particular vulnerable population. Mrs. Cochran shared that they were “troubled by the magnitude of the problems the young, innocent children were facing, so the group changed its focus to the children of incarcerated parents.” Over time, the growing organization worked with the UM-Ann Arbor School of Public Health to develop evidence-based programs, helping to ensure that Motherly Intercession’s programming achieved desired results for the well-being of the children and their families.

Forging a Mutually-Reinforcing Relationship

On November 1, 2014, Motherly Intercession proudly awarded Dr. Suzanne Selig, Department Chair of the UM-Flint Department of Public Health & Health Sciences, an Essential Piece Award for her contributions to the organization over many years. 


Dr. Suzanne Selig (left) accepts the Essential Piece Award bestowed by Motherly Intercession Executive Director Shirley Cochran at the organization’s annual fundraiser dinner.

Shirley and Suzanne met in 2009 when Motherly Intercession looked to UM-Flint for interns. The organization, by then an official 501(c)3 nonprofit, needed “interns to fill critical Group Leader positions for a two-year research project [with the UM Prevention Research Center] that focused on developing a system of support for the incarcerated families of Genesee County.” According to Mrs. Cochran, “Suzanne willingly agreed to collaborate with us and provided two excellent young women to fill those positions.  The internship placements continued throughout the project from which our Strengthening Incarcerated Families program derived.” 

In turn, Motherly Intercession’s internship placements gave UM-Flint public health students coveted real-world experiences within peer-reviewed research projects and leadership potential. For example, Shirley credits Suzanne with placing then-intern Michelle Fairley with Motherly Intercession, ultimately leading to Ms. Fairley becoming the President of Motherly Intercession’s Executive Board of Directors. Shirley also shared that Suzanne’s relationship with the organization ran deeper as she supported Motherly Intercession through her personal involvement “by attending our Annual Dinners, and the children’s Reading And Counting to Success (RACS) after school tutorial program graduation ceremonies.”

For her long-standing and diverse contributions, Motherly Intercession recognizes Dr. Selig as an “Essential Piece” champion for children with incarcerated parents.

Each Day, Unlocking Children’s Futures

Now, in the Winter 2015 semester, a group of UM-Flint students in professor Tony McGill’s capstone Senior Seminar in Professional Communications (COM 426) class is working with Motherly Intercession to raise awareness about the organization’s latest fundraising campaign.

The students in this service-learning class will put their social media, written, and face-to-face communication skills to work and gain resume-building, real-world experience by helping the organization reach its goal of raising $14,000 in 30 days through the online crowdfunding campaign Let’s Unlock the Future.” The funds will be used to purchase an urgently needed van.

Recently, Motherly Intercession was troubled to find an essential piece of its tried-and-true service delivery model out of commission and in need of replacement. The vast majority of families that Motherly Intercession serves are in poverty and do not have access to transportation. For that reason, Motherly Intercession requires its 15-passenger van to ensure that children from all over Genesee County consistently access the organization’s academic and other support services, as well as wrap-around services of complementary agencies (i.e. mental health assessments, arts enrichment, etc.).

In fall of 2014, the van was a victim of a hit-and-run accident. Then, on Devil’s Night, a mischief-maker smashed the windows of the van and other vehicles down the block (a first experience for Motherly Intercession). These damages, plus the fact that the van was already worn down and needing increasingly costly repairs, rendered the van in need of replacement.

Stay tuned for more news about this partnership as the semester progresses!

Get Involved

 Are you inspired by Motherly Intercession’s mission and interested in supporting its work? Consider these ways of getting connected and making a difference:

  • Join the COM 426 students in spreading the word about the Indiegogo campaign through your networks. Send emails, call your friends, and share the campaign through social media.
  • Volunteer to provide academic tutoring for the Reading and Counting to Success after-school program.
  • Call the organization at (810) 424-9909 to explore other ways to get involved through service-learning, research, or other forms of volunteer service. 

Check out this video to see Motherly Intercession in action and learn more about the transformation it brings to the Greater Flint community!



Today, University Outreach wants to share a little bit about the conversations higher education institutions across Michigan are having through Michigan Campus Compact (MiCC) about diversity, inclusion and the concept of “cultural humility”. These insights are important for strengthening the community engagement work we do at UM-Flint through class projects, research, internships, and other ways our campus ties academic learning with the community.

MiCC is an organization housed within the Michigan Nonprofit Association, and its mission is to promote the education and commitment of Michigan college students to be civically engaged citizens through creating and expanding academic, co-curricular and campus-wide opportunities for community service, service-learning and civic engagement. UM-Flint is represented on MiCC’s statewide Network Committee, which recently engaged in a strategic planning process and established five new priority areas for the organization. One way that MiCC is addressing its new priorities is by embedding professional development on the topics into twice-annual state-wide gatherings of university staff, directors and faculty who support universities’ missions with regard to civic engagement.

As we shared with campus last semester, the Network Committee chose Diversity and Inclusion as one of five priority areas. This priority was selected because embracing diversity and inclusion is vital for ensuring the success of higher education’s community engagement – both in terms of how we engage with the community (e.g. understanding and breaking down barriers of race, educational level, income, gender, etc.) and the outcomes we generate (e.g. working together collaboratively and respectfully in order to maximize our collective impact). It is also crucial for preparing students to be effective future professionals, as they will inevitably need to be skilled in working in and with diverse communities to succeed in their professional careers.

MiCC’s last gathering, in November 2014, featured a riveting presentation/dialogue on the concept of cultural humility, presented by Shari Robinson-Lynk, Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Assistant Director for Engaged Learning at the UM Ginsberg Center. Shari is also part of the Network Committee and co-leading MiCC’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.

Shari shared with us that the concept of “cultural humility” was coined by civically engaged scholars Jann Murray-Garcia (University of California, San Franscisco) and Melanie Tervalon (Children’s Hospital Oakland) from the field of Nursing in the late 1990s to address the significant health disparities that existed due to cultural misunderstandings between doctors/nurses/health care administrators and clients.

The tenants of cultural humility are: lifelong learning and critical self-reflection; recognizing and challenging power imbalances; respectful partnerships; and institutional accountability. This approach challenges individuals and institutions to ensure that the relationships they engage in are truly healthy, informed by deep thinking and understanding of diversity and inclusion that goes beyond the incomplete ideas of multiculturalism and cultural competency. This way of thinking about diversity and inclusion is not only important in the medical field, but also for how we engage within our campus and with members of the community.

It is important to recognize that “cultural humility” addresses a number of critiques of “cultural competency,” which was coined by Cross, et al. in the late 1980s. For example, cultural competency implies a limiting belief that a person is capable of reaching some undefined end point in their learning and achieving “competence” when it comes to recognizing and addressing one’s own prejudices and understanding how to work respectfully with people of different backgrounds. Cultural humility asserts that such learning must be life-long because we don’t know what we don’t know and we must commit to continual improvement and accountability in our relationships.   

Cultural humility is a holistic concept that has been overlooked for far too long. As UM-Flint and other higher education institutions in Michigan strengthen their practices of diversity and inclusion, we are challenged with adding “cultural humility” to the way we talk, think, operate, and engage.

Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., & Isaacs, M., (1989). Towards A Culturally Competent System of Care, Volume I. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Child Development Center, CASSP Technical Assistance Center.

Tervalon, M. & Murray-Garcia, J. (1998). “Cultural humility versus cultural competence: a Critical discussion in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education.” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 9 (2) 117-125.

Creating stronger partnerships and collaboration between community organizations and educational institutions is critical to increase knowledge sharing as well as utilizing limited resources in a way which benefits more institutions than one. Emphasizing community partnerships has become increasingly important in the Flint Community Schools as they went through an extensive planning process to eliminate their growing deficit as student enrollment rates have dropped. This issue is not unique to Flint, but is becoming more typical across the nation as funding for K-12 and higher education has been cut. In Flint, a partnership between the Flint Community Schools, the City of Flint, and a group of funders, has created a re-investment into Community Education.

Community Education is a growing concept in K-12 education. The concept focuses on attaching more community partners to public and sometimes charter schools. Community partners can offer a range of resources such as tutoring, health services, cross-generational education courses, and extra-curricular programs. Schools which embrace this concept often have extended hours and are open on the weekends. Throughout the last four months, Jennifer Burger, AmeriCorps VISTA member through University Outreach, has worked to establish strong relationships with ABCsstaff and faculty at Brownell-Holmes STEM Academy. The STEM Academy is the pilot site for the new Community Education Model through Flint Community Schools. The working group of the Flint Community Schools, the City of Flint, and funders chose Brownell-Holmes Stem Academy because of its large student body and the schools emphasis on STEM education. The Crim Fitness Foundation has hired a Community Education Coordinator to lead the effort of increasing resources and partners into all Flint Schools in the coming years. In the coming months, Jennifer Burger will give an update on her efforts to increase University of Michigan-Flint programs to the Flint Community Schools.

Community Education as a nationwide model originated in Flint, as an initiative which Charles Stewart Mott and Frank Manley in 1935. Mott and Manley envisioned community schools as assets to the community which should be open to all members of the public for enrichment classes and activities. Flint was the model for community education until the 1970’s when the decline in population and students would eventually eliminate funding for the initiative. Although Flint discontinued Community Education, many Cities, Non-Profits, and School Districts across the nation continue to build on Flint’s model. Widely known models are the Harlem Learning Zone, Citizen Schools, and the Netter Center at Penn State.


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.



By Alicia Gillman

When you think of a homeless shelter, what comes to mind? Do you envision a rundown facility full of people wearing rags for clothing? Do you think of unmotivated people with poor hygiene habits? Do you imagine a dreary room full of cheap bunk beds? If you did, you’re not alone. A year ago, I had some of these same thoughts as I was told that Carriage Town Ministries, a homeless shelter in downtown Flint, would be housing the immersion group for Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

Untitled5The 2014 Alternative Spring Break Board, now known as the Alternative Breaks Committee, wanted to pilot a STAY-cation program that would provide a “traditional ASB experience” for ten UM-Flint students. For those that are not familiar with the “traditional” ASB model, most schools organize service trips that allow them to travel to a different city or country. Given the tremendous need in the Flint community, the Alternative Breaks Committee keeps our ASB trips local. While keeping it local allows students to become familiar with the Flint community by exposing them to the needs right in our own backyard, it does change the student experience during ASB. With limited funds and lodging options, the Alternative Breaks Committee was struggling to find suitable housing for the STAY-cation participants until Carriage Town Ministries generously allowed the group to stay in one of their transition homes for the week. As one of the team leaders, let me be the first to tell you I was skeptical of this arrangement. Was it going to be safe? What about the cleanliness of the transition home?

Untitled2When the week of ASB arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. The transition home, one of several owned and operated through Carriage Town Ministries, was a beautifully remodeled Victorian home just a few block from campus. Our four day stay there was wonderful and humbling. Our group had the pleasure of staying with two other residents who were transitioning from homelessness to living on their own. They were friendly, hard-working (& clean) people who just needed a little extra support getting back on their feet.

During our ASB, the STAY-cation service project was also at Carriage Town Ministries. In fact, our project was conveniently located next door to our transition home. With the help of a $5,000 grant from Southwest Airlines, ASB was able to purchase enough drywall for the entire transition home and we spent the entire week hanging it. Carriage Town Ministries is a non-profit organization that serves the Flint community year round, providing meals, shelter, clothing, medical care and more to the homeless and hungry. As a result work on the transition homes is dependent solely on donations of time, money, and supplies. Though we were not able to drywall the entire house during our short time at Carriage Town Ministries, we have since gone back to continue our project.

Untitled3It is amazing to see where we started and the condition of the house now. We started with studs and cracked plaster ceilings. Now, the house is slowly coming together as our group, the staff at Carriage Town Ministries, and other outside organizations continue to work on it. For ASB 2015, we will continue our work on the transition house and plan to spend the week painting.

Alternative Spring Break is advertised as “The week that lasts a lifetime” but I didn’t know how true this statement was until I stayed and served at Carriage Town Ministries this past March. I am thankful for all that I have. The friends, the family, the education, the experiences, and the opportunities that I have are truly wonderful. During ASB I realized how important it is to be open-minded, to be hardworking, to be humble, and most importantly, to be kind. When I look back on this experience, I am reminded that while my service may seem like only a small contribution, collectively, we can make an impact and change lives for the better.

For more information about Alternative Break Programs, please visit:

by Nic Custer

There are so many social and environmental problems affecting the world we live in today that sometimes things look pretty bleak. But instead of letting this be a stumbling block, a different kind of entrepreneur has been able to address these needs as opportunities to positively affect the community with radical, new solutions.

These social entrepreneurs are in business to provide a service or product that directly responds to a pressing social need. This can include providing a sense of self-sufficiency to at-risk individuals through offering job skills and work experience, bringing inexpensive water filtration and irrigation products to the developing world, or composting local food waste to create nutrient-rich soil and reduce the impact on landfills. Many social entrepreneurs follow a triple bottom line business model, where not only are profits important to the company but so is its environmental and social impact.

University Outreach’s Innovation Incubator, 432 N. Saginaw St., suite 207, is a co-working and business incubator space that works with community and students to establish start-up businesses and non-profits. Many of these businesses address a need in the larger community through social entrepreneurship.

For example, Charma’s Organic Kitchen is a business that sells locally-grown dehydrated kale and collard green chips. This business is tackling the issue of access to affordable, healthy snacks in “food deserts” or places where availability of healthy, fresh food is limited.

UM-Flint student business, Moses Music Productions, is specifically trying to address a large gender gap in the professional music industry. Part of owner Aleah Moses’ mission is to inspire girls, who are underrepresented in the music industry, to become producers and songwriters.

Stephan McBride is planning his business, Gamerz Den, to be a video gaming and social space. Another UM-Flint student, McBride would like his business to specifically cater towards creating a safe space for less social and autistic gamers, who may feel more comfortable socializing with other people around video games.

Lastly, Nick Looney, a UM-Flint student, is developing his own social entrepreneurship venture which will work with Habitat for Humanity to build and sell tiny houses, which are roughly defined as less than 200 square-foot houses. He plans to hire homeless and at-risk individuals to build the houses and will contribute a portion of his company’s equity to the local Habitat for Humanity to help fund construction of housing for people in need.

There are many ways someone can engage in social entrepreneurship. The Innovation Incubator provides start-ups with business plan development, workspace, referrals, mentoring and workshops including tax accounting, grant writing, business pitches, intellectual property and the triple bottom line business model. All services and programming are available at no charge.

Do you have a business idea that can benefit your community or environment? Fill out the Bright Idea form on the Innovation Incubator’s website at and start your own social venture today!

by Nic Custer

A group of seven students, led by Lecturer Andrew Morton, are completing a new play to be performed this Fall as part of the UM-Flint Theatre and Dance Department’s main stage season.

The new work fictionalizes the re-opening of the Flint Local 432, an all-ages music venue in downtown Flint.

The students has been meeting regularly in the Innovation Incubator co-working  space, NBC 207, during the Spring term to rework the script which was drafted during a Collective Playwrights Workshop class taught by Morton in Winter 2013.

A first draft of “The Local” was completed for the Winter course and established the basic framework, plot and characters of the play. The show will follow a group of young people forming a band and explores their lives ten years later as the venue reopens.

Nick Hale, a recent graduate working on the project, said collaborative work is interesting because there are parts of the script that everyone agrees need more work but all of the writers have different ideas about what elements need to be changed.

He said that when the group came together after the semester ended, they agreed the second act needed to be completely rewritten.

Morton, who will be directing the completed play, said he hopes to send an updated draft of the script to his costume and scenic designers at the end of June. He said the script will at least be able to answer who the characters are and where it takes place. While the main work will be completed, there will be minor script editing through the first week of rehearsals for the production.

A local band will be selected as the house band for the run of the production.

The Local play will run in repertory with Little Shop of Horrors during the Fall semester. Performances are scheduled for November 8, 10, 16, 22, 23 and 24.

563531_391180014313509_1364912815_nby Nic Custer

Our Home Transitional, a housing and social services business for female veterans located in the University of Michigan-Flint’s Innovation Incubator, has won the 2013 eTEAM Spark Award.

The eTEAM Spark award recognizes the “determination, vision, identified market, growth potential, and setting and achieving business goals” by a newer business.

To qualify for a eTEAM Spark award a business must be less than two years old and have partnered with an eTEAM member organization among other criteria.

The award, which includes a plaque, was given to ten start-up businesses around Flint and Genesee County. These included Consolidated Barber Shop, 107 W. Kearsley St., Healthy Dollar, 138 W. First St., New Thought Movement of Davison, and Our Home Transitional, 432 N. Saginaw St., Suite 207.

Joyce Hitchye, OHT volunteer grant writer, accepted the award on behalf of Executive Director Carrie Miller.

She said, “I have just recently met Carrie through our BEST Project Leadership Program, but her energy and her honest vigor to see the single female homeless veteran housing come to fruition has greatly inspired me.”

Our Home Transitional was presented the award Feb. 28 at the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce 2013 Jumpstart Entrepreneur Conference.

The conference was held at the Holiday Inn Gateway Center in Grand Blanc. Dave Zilko, vice chairman of Garden Fresh Gourmet, was the keynote speaker. There were two breakout sessions where attendees could choose between subjects like tax planning, government contracts vs. grants, 21st century marketing and legal structures.

Sherry Hayden, of the Innovation Incubator, originally nominated the start-up business for the award.

by Nic Custer

Shop Floor Theatre Company, an ensemble-based theatre company and Innovation Incubator tenant, is preparing to open their initial production, State of Emergency, at the end of February.

The writing team recorded interviews to craft an original script about the effects of Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager law, on the city of Flint.  The verbatim play focuses on the one-year period between PA 4’s enactment in the city (November 2011) and its repeal during the recent elections (November 2012). Writers interviewed street-level activists, residents, a councilperson, professors, Mayor Dayne Walling, former-Emergency Manager Michael Brown, a state of Michigan treasury department official and others.

Director and Co-Founder Andrew Morton said Public Act 4 is an urgent issue affecting Flint and the state but he doesn’t feel there have been enough of the necessary dialogues necessary to understand this issue.

Morton said that while the work is directly relevant to the Flint community, it also contributes to a larger, national conversation, especially relating to verbatim and ensemble-based techniques. He mentioned attending a recent Network of Ensemble Theatres conference in New Orleans where he overheard Michael Rohd, a nationally renowned playwright, casually speaking to someone over dinner about the interesting work being done in Flint.

Early on in the process, Shop Floor held unrecorded story circle sessions with community members to gauge their level of knowledge and identify voices that the script writing team wanted to interview in depth. One of these sessions was held in the Innovation Incubator co-working space. University Outreach at UM-Flint coordinates the Innovation Incubator located at the Northbank Center. Learn more about the Incubator at

Kendrick Jones, Producer and Co-Founder said that their individual office, located in Northbank 238 next to the co-working space, provides a lot of positives. It is centrally located downtown, so it offers access to the university campus, governmental buildings and the business community. He also appreciated the aesthetics of the Northbank Center. Jones said that the historic and appealing exterior of the building gives other businesses a positive sense of the theatre company because of their professional setting.

The main incubator co-working space has also been utilized by the company for conferences, large meetings, auditions, and for important business meetings with vendors and other theater companies, according to Jones.

“It’s great having a space to work from and have meetings in. It helps us feel that this is a serious business or has the potential to be, not just a hobby done in our spare time,” Morton commented.

Shop Floor is growing and both Morton and Jones said that the space and infrastructure (internet, tables, chairs, use of conference rooms), which University Outreach provides through the Incubator space, is vital to the group’s success. Jones mentioned that several other theatre projects are in the works and the company is already booked through 2015.

Rehearsals began in January, shortly after the completion of the script. The ten-member cast, made up of students, alumni and community members, has used the Vault space in the Northbank Center basement for evening rehearsals.

Shop Floor will present a mid-afternoon preview performance for students and residents at Beecher Community School’s ninth grade academy Randall Coates Auditorium, 1020 W. Coldwater Rd., February 22.

The show officially opens February 23 with a 7 p.m. performance at the UM-Flint Theatre, 303 E. Kearsley St. Shop Floor will have two shows at Flint Community Players, 2462 S. Ballenger Hwy., (March 2, 7 p.m. and March 3, 3 p.m.) and two final performances downtown at the Masonic Temple, 755 S. Saginaw St. (March 8 and March 9, both at 7 p.m.)

All performances are free and followed by talk back sessions and refreshments.

The February 23 performance will be simulcast online through Newplay TV, an online livestreaming channel, specifically created to show new theatre works. Audiences from all over the world have the ability to watch the production live. There is at least one viewing party scheduled to occur in Saginaw and Morton said there may be another set up in Detroit. Check out for details.

Jones and Morton gave a live “webinar” tele-conference about the production on February 8 in a joint venture with Michigan State University EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation. These lectures generally focus on new ideas being used in Michigan, such as urban food systems, microenterprise development and promoting youth entrepreneurship.

Shop Floor will present at the MSU EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation annual summit this fall. They will show video of the performance, give a final report and discuss their process. MSU EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation also funded a portion of the production.

This June, Shop Floor has been invited to present at the 2013 Americans for the Arts annual conference in Pittsburgh. Members of the production team will speak about the play and ways to evaluate its larger social impacts.

Jones said he wanted to particularly thank the University Outreach staff: Jonathan Jarosz, Barb Urlaub, Sherry Hayden, Sara McDonnell and Lindsay Stoddard. He said without their patience and support, Shop Floor wouldn’t be where it is today.

Most of Shop Floor’s production costs were paid for by an initial Ruth Mott Foundation grant. The foundation approached Morton and Jones to create a verbatim theatre company after the success of last year’s production, Embers: the Flint Fires Verbatim Theatre Project, which through similar techniques examined the glut of Flint arsons in 2010.

Visit for more information.