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: www.umflint.edu/outreach/alternative-breaks

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 www.go.umflint.edu/in and start your own social venture today!

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

Carrie Miller, founder and executive director of Our Home Transitional, didn’t have answers for the “20 questions about your business” online form when she applied for a space in UM-Flint’s Innovation Incubator.

But Miller, a senior studying psychology, and her business have come a long way in the past year.

Her business offers female veterans housing assistance and connects them with social services like job training. She returned home to Flint in 2010 with a strong desire to work with struggling women and children.

After sending in her 20 questions to the Incubator, she met with Danny Bledsoe, a military veteran and business coach who was working with [IN]. He suggested she serve returning veterans as they transition to civilian life. She agreed and Bledsoe has since joined Our Home Transitional’s five-person board of directors. The board is made up of UM-Flint students and faculty.

Our Home Transitional is in the process of purchasing their first home for veterans. It is a 3-storey, ten-bedroom house, north of campus, which is owned by another nonprofit. Besides cosmetic repairs, the house is ready to be lived in. Miller needs to raise $20,000, which is more than 35% of the house’s cost in order to qualify for a Veterans Administration grant, which could cover the other 65% of the price. Our Home is working directly with the Detroit Veterans Administration on the project.

In addition to a GoFundMe page, Our Home has a couple of grant writers applying to both the C.S. Mott and Ruth Mott foundations in order to raise the $20,000 down payment. One of the grant writers is a female veteran.

The house will be a large space to fill so the business is also looking for donations of furniture in addition to money. In the mean time, Our Home could also use a donated storage unit for the furniture it already has.

The Genesee County Land Bank has told Our Home Transitional that they would be willing to donate future homes that aren’t being planned for rehabilitation.

Miller is appreciative of the support she gets from the Incubator. She said that the workshops, business coaching and office space in NBK 206 have been huge helps.

“The Incubator’s been a huge support system for me. We have board meetings in the co-working space every month,” she said.

Miller has had family members serve in the armed forces including her sister who in Desert Storm. She said Michigan is 53rd in providing benefits to veterans, dead last behind other states and U.S. territories. This is because most veterans who returned to the state used to just get a job at GM, now without any substantial jobs, many more people are applying for their benefits including current service men and women but also Vietnam and even Korean war vets. Miller said the current backlog of 375,000 applications takes two years to process.

The business is very rewarding for Miller who has two daughters, 6 and 16 years old. She said her teenager is very proud of her and has even written reports for school about what her mom is doing.

Visit www.ourhometransitional.org or http://www.facebook.com/OurHomeTransitional for more information.

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 www.umflint.edu/outreach/innovation-incubator.

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 www.livestream.com/newplay 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 www.shopfloortheatre.com for more information.

value-added-2012In September, twenty-seven of the University of Michigan-Flint’s brightest and most dynamic students gathered at the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio in Midland, Michigan to explore and develop techniques for collaboration, critical thinking, and conflict management.  University of Michigan-Flint faculty, University Outreach staff, and past camp participants served as facilitators and mentors for the group, inspiring participants to take the next steps in their personal and professional lives.

The Value Added Leadership Development Camp was developed by University Outreach, in partnership with the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, to provide students with an opportunity to develop and hone their leadership and collaboration skills to prepare them to become effective leaders in their communities and throughout their professional careers.

What the students are saying about the experience:

“The Value Added Leadership Camp was fun, exciting, and very beneficial. One will never be bored and needs to come with an open mind. I thought the camp was very motivational and friendships were formed.”

“Amazing opportunity to gain knowledge that will open your eyes to issues of life, not just as a student but also as a member of your community. I believe that this camp will encourage some who’ve never taken a leadership role in their communities, to gain the courage to do so.”

“Like the best movie that you have ever seen! If I tell you a whole lot about it, it might ruin it for you, just know that when you go with an open mind, you will enjoy it like an all-inclusive day at the spa for your mind! It touches parts of your mind that you didn’t even know you had.”

Save the Date:

2013 Value Added Leadership Development Camp
September 26-28, 2013


The University of Michigan-Flint has created a promotional video highlighting the array of community partnerships our students, faculty and staff have cultivated over the past year. Much of Outreach’s work is featured in the video including the Cass River Greenway project.

Outreach staff and community partners Bill Zehnder and Bob Zeilinger, were interviewed on location along the Cass River at Beyer Road. Our community partners were asked to share their story on what it means to be a partner with the University, and the importance of partnering to achieve a common goal.

[youtube width=”850″ height=”550″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfyK2-TdyLQ[/youtube]