Imagine two worlds: one in which everyone wanted to get rich, the other a world in which everyone wanted to do good. It is likely the images that come to mind under each scenario look very different to you.

In the world where everyone wants to get rich, you might envision individuals and the leadership of organizations assessing the environment in an attempt to find ways to shape it and operate within it to create a competitive advantage leading to higher than normal profits being earned. In this world the accumulation of wealth would stand as a strong incentive and as an interest as important and powerful as the very individuals and organizations pursuing the wealth.

wordleIn the world in which everyone wants to do “good”, individuals and organizational leaders would act with the interests of others, including the broader society, in mind. In this world concepts such as individual rights and self-interest are balanced with the collective well-being, and issues such as equal access, social justice.

Now imagine the real world of social entrepreneurship, which is in fact, the true Third Way. Borrowing from the world in which everyone wants to gets rich, innovation and creativity is rewarded, excellence in organizational structure and processes is achieved through professional application of best practices in finance, marketing, organizational behavior, operations and strategic management. Beyond efficiency, effectiveness and creativity, social entrepreneurship is loosely-coupled, it’s viral; it’s one thousand individuals whose interests have aligned all acting independently yet in parallel, or one thousand individuals joining to form a single organization to address just one issue. Social entrepreneurship is change, the application of the change-making potential in each of us to shape the outcomes of issues played out in the institutional arenas that exist at the intersection of market and nonmarket environments.

As different as they may have seemed at first, our two imaginary worlds need one another, are complimentary to each other. As Randy Slikkers, Executive Director of Goodwill Industries, Michigan, will note during his Key Note Speech at the upcoming Inspire Conference on Social Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity, if you have “No Money” then you have “No Mission”.

Come spend a day with us on Friday October 14, 2011 in the William S. White Building on the University of Michigan-Flint campus for the 2011 [in]spire conference. The conference is free and will commence with a panel session in which social entrepreneurship is defined. From there a group of local and regional talent will branch off into five tracks including: Health & Community, Engaging Youth, Going Green, Creativity and Commerce, and Getting it Done.


University Outreach was pleased to partner with Keepers of the Shiawassee and several other organizations to promote the Shiawassee River and its long-term protection.  Thanks to a generous grant from the Fenton Community Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, interpretive signs were created and placed near the river in Fenton, Linden, and Argentine; a water trail guide was developed; and plans for building a canoe/kayak launch in Argentine are underway!

Illustrator Gayle Vandercook poses with the sign installed at Bush Park in Fenton

Illustrator Gayle Vandercook poses with the sign installed at Bush Park in Fenton

The Shiawassee River gets it start in north Oakland County and Holly, Fenton, Linden and Argentine and flows all the way to the Saginaw River.  The Keepers of the Shiawassee is a volunteer group that is developing the river as a paddling trail by organizing cleanups, installation of signage, and canoe/kayak launches.  “The Shiawassee River is one of our greatest resources and has the opportunity to provide recreation and economic development to our region” stated Maggie Yerman an advocate for the Shiawassee River and key organizer of Keepers of the Shiawassee.

University Outreach provided support to Keepers of the Shiawassee to complete the project and brought together several partners to work collaboratively on the project including: Headwaters Trails, Inc., Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation, the City of Fenton, City of Linden, and Argentine Township.

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The water trail would not stop in Genesee County, the development and promotion of the river is spearheaded by Friends of the Shiawassee River in Shiawassee County.  At the end of the day, these collective groups hope to see a paddling trail that’s nearly 100 miles long from Holly all the way to the Shiawassee Flats.

Download: Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail Map


Recently, University Outreach partnered with the Udall Foundation’s Parks in Focus (PIF) Program and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint to launch a pilot program to introduce 10 youth to area parks through digital photography. Over the last few weeks, participants have explored Ligon Outdoor Center, Max Brandon City Park, Bluebell Beach County Park, Stepping Stone Falls and Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge on day-long trips. The program culminated last weekend (August 19-21) with a camping trip to Bay City State Recreation Area. The adventure was full of firsts for the participants: camping in tents, s’more-making over a campfire, fishing, bird watching, and more.

"I'm feeling like a new person discovering new and exciting things." - Jacara, age 12

“I’m feeling like a new person discovering new and exciting things.” – Jacara, age 12

The mission of the program was to connect underserved youth to nature through photography. For middle-school youth who rarely venture beyond their neighborhoods, a program like this can open windows of story-telling and self-expression, can spark a new interest in science and nature, and can, ultimately, change lives. Throughout the summer, participants got their hands and shoes dirty as they camped, hiked, fished, explored, and photographed. They learned about the natural history of Saginaw Bay Region, were introduced to people who work within parks, and developed team-working skills.

The Flint program was initiated by and is funded through University Outreach at the University of Michigan-Flint with additional support from Michigan State Parks and REI of Ann Arbor.

Want more? Check out photos of the kids’ adventures on Flickr!

Discovering PLACE, University Outreach’s place-based education initiative, recently held its first community exchange event,  “Students Growing Roots”.

The event, held May 9, 2011 at downtown Flint’s Riverfront Banquet Center, drew more than 100 Flint-area students who got involved with Discovering PLACE this year. The students, their families and school staff members gathered to share their success stories.

“But what also became apparent was the supportive community culture that has been created through these projects,” said Danielle Gartner, Discovering PLACE coordinator.

Students alternated between presenting their own school projects and attending other students’ presentations. McMonagle Elementary second-graders made cookbooks and shared recipes featuring produce varieties being grown in the school’s hydroponic garden, while Tucker Elementary kindergartners from Shelly Roberts’ class acted out “The Carrot Seed” story by Ruth Krauss, dramatizing how the seed was watered and weeded until a carrot grew.  Between acting out the play and their own courtyard garden experience, students have now memorized a sequence of gardening steps.

Some of the children were impressed by Beecher High School students big-screen presentation on the school’s recently opened nature trail, said Roberts, noting the high school students have now become role models to her kindergartners, who aim to use the big screen themselves someday. Educators also used the bus trip to point out local features, including the Flint River.


Along with the opportunity for students and staff to compare notes, the exchange drew members of the Flint community attending a nearby University of Michigan-Flint event. Of the guests attending the Annual Gathering of the Flint River Corridor Alliance , who came out to hear environmental journalist Bill McKibben, approximately 30 stayed to learn more about the school projects and offer support. “We were once in your shoes,” they told students.

“What was really exciting,” said Gartner, “was seeing students connecting with their communities, teachers encouraging each other and parents coming out to support the work.”

High school students also toured the UM-Flint campus and were invited to hear McKibben at a university-sponsored Critical Issues Forum luncheon, while elementary students were treated to a drawing lesson by Michigan illustrator Wendy Halperin (

See more Discovering PLACE UM-Flint event photos – or upload your own – at  For more information on uploading photos to our page, please send us an e-mail.

Discovering PLACE is a resource to help Flint-area urban schools create hands-on curriculum projects to connect youth with their communities. Discovering PLACE offers mini-grants, teacher resources and a network of support for educators to establish these projects. One of eight hubs in the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, Discovering PLACE operates through University Outreach at the University of Michigan-Flint.



The purpose of the University of Michigan-Flint’s Alternative Spring Break program is to enable students to learn about issues such as homelessness, poverty, hunger, violence, environmental issues, and complex social and cultural issues. Students will listen to and understand community needs and continue a commitment to community service and social change.

ASB 178The University of Michigan-Flint’s Alternative Spring Break is a University Outreach sponsored program that offers a community service learning experience on a local level during the traditional Spring Break of the academic calendar. Students spend time learning about complex social, cultural and environmental issues. During spring break, groups carpool to a selected site to engage in meaningful action toward a greater understanding of root causes of relevant issues. Students participate in critical reflection and analysis of social justice issues they experience first-hand.

ASB 209The program is dedicated to providing break opportunities to as many students as possible, while striving to increase community impact and student learning and address societal problems with understanding and compassion. Critical elements of this process are recognizing community needs and assets while working in partnership with community members. Equally important is translating the experience into an understanding of the complexity and interconnectedness of social problems and making a commitment to being part of the long-term solution.

Some of the sites that ASB have served are, but are not limited to: helping with hurricane Katrina cleanup, urban renewal with the Genesee County Land Bank and the Salvation Army, help with afterschool programming in local middle and elementary schools, serving meals at homeless shelters and also doing small construction projects.

ASB 2011

ASB 215This year, our students donated their time at Habitat for Humanity, YWCA, Durant Tuuri Mott Elementary School, Kings Karate and Wellness Aids Services, Inc. We had 64 students volunteer throughout the week of spring break, for a total of 192 service days. At 5 hours per day, the students donated approximately 960 hours throughout the week. According to the IRS these hours can be billed at $19.79/hour for a value at $18,998.40. The University of Michigan-Flint students once again made a very significant impact on the Flint community and beyond!

Keep an eye out for details on ASB 2012 on University Outreach’s Alternative Spring Break page.


Nic Custer reads poetry written by F.H.Rankin. Rankin plot, Glenwood Cemetery

Notes from Janet Haley, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Project Director of the Glen-Wood: Restoration of Spirit Project:

Restoration of Spirit seeks to increase community spirit and pride by way of engaging local audiences with a nearly-forgotten historical place, Glenwood Cemetery.  In 1857 it was established as a Rural Cemetery, a public, park-like place for all residents to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.  It was created as a place to stroll, to picnic, to breathe clean air.  It was a place to gather with family and friends in gentle recreation.  It was a place to lay ancestors to rest…as well as daily troubles.

We believe these 19th century intentions for public use can be activated within our 21st century community…and we hope to raise awareness for this treasure of local history and outdoor beauty with community-based, community-created performance.

An original theatre production entitled Glen-Wood: Restoration of Spirit will be created from interviews and scholarly/historical research.  The creative team is comprised of UM-Flint faculty, students and community partners such as Glenwood Cemetery and Genesee County Historical Society.  Academic articles will be published about the making of this project, and archival documentation of the process will be featured in writings for publication.  The performance will tour the grounds of Glenwood Sept 23-Oct 3, 2010.
Restoration of Spirit is the recipient of a 2010 Arts of Citizen fellowship with UM-Ann Arbor’s Ginsberg Center.


Community Conversation and Project Open House
Saturday, August 7, 2010 (2-5 pm) on the grounds of Glen-Wood Cemetery, 2500 E. Court Street, Flint, MI
An opportunity for the creative team & cast to engage with the public about the project, gather stories and experiences from community for the script, and promote the production. Do you have a story to share of Glenwood Cemetery? Do you have questions or thoughts to share? We’d love to hear!

Performance Dates
September 23 through October 3, 2010
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – Twilight Performances
Each twilight performance will be followed by refreshments and conversation.
Performances take place on the grounds of Glen-Wood Cemetery, 2500 E. Court Street, Flint, MI
Information on performance times, ticket prices, how to reserve tickets, etc. coming soon.

For more information, email us at [email protected]

See photos, post stories, ask questions on the Facebook page:

Kentucky farmer and poet Wendell Berry formulated these principles for a sustainable economy, one which focuses on community and the common good. A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a “killing.” It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance.

Wendell Berry is a strong defender of family, rural communities, and traditional family farms. These underlying principles could be described as “the preservation of ecological diversity and integrity, and the renewal, on sound cultural and ecological principles, of local economies and local communities.

  1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth.
  2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.
  3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.
  4. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).
  5. Understand the ultimate unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of ‘labor saving’ if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.
  6. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of national or global economy.
  7. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.
  8. Strive to supply as much of the community’s own energy as possible.
  9. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community for as long as possible before they are paid out.
  10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.
  11. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.
  12. See that the old and young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily, and not always in school. There must be no institutionalised childcare and no homes for the aged. The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.
  13. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or externalised. Whenever possible, these must be debited against monetary income.
  14. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programs, systems of barter, and the like.
  15. Always be aware of the economic value of neighborly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighborhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.
  16. A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.
  17. A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.

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.

The Holiday Inn Gateway was the setting December 1 for Boost Mid-Michigan, a regional conference of business entrepreneurs. The consortium connects university- and business community-based ventures with support resources and capital, and is funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation. In these gatherings throughout Mid-Michigan, local entrepreneurs are prepared to successfully present their ventures to investor audiences. Consultants, coaches and entrepreneurial support professionals help participants prepare a three-minute investor pitch, and a few will be selected to present  to private investors from BlueWater Angels and Great Lakes Angels in January.

Investors listened to 20 presentations, including those by Flint-based student entrepreneurs Suyash Joshi of, Jose Aliaga of Aliaga Development, and Casey Schaaf of Ecodev Engineering. These entrepreneurs also participated in Moving On Up, a business concept competition hosted by Launch at the University of Michigan-Flint. Student entrepreneurs used short videos to present their ideas to investors. The competition was funded by the C. S. Mott Foundation, the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Michigan University Commercialization Initiative.

The winners of the Moving On Up Video Pitch competition:

Overall Winner: $2,000

EcoDev Engineering, Casey Schaaf – Moving On Up Grand Champion


Campus Winners: $250

Easy Saver Card, The CEO Club – Lawrence Tech Campus Champion

PC Power, Tyler Farrar & Mike Ellenbaas – Kettering Campus Champion

Epic Technology Solutions, Paul Knific & Eric Knific – UM-Flint Campus Champion

Student Business Concept, Ryan Robinson – Baker College Campus Champion

Capto Video, Jon Chema – Mott Community College Campus Champion


Category Winners: $100

FCC Program, GASC Entrepreneur Class – K-12 Class Social Entrepreneurship Champion

BMP Landscaping, Matt Patterson – K-12 Student Business Champion, GASC III – K-12 Class Business Concept Champion

LivLuxMag, Corey Stokes & Donyale Walton – Creative Economy Business Champion

Special Needs Day Care Concept, Renee Barnes – Service Economy Business Champion

The Stand-Up Economist, UM-Flint Economics Club – Collegiate Club Champion

Aliaga Development, Jose Aliaga – International Business Concept Champion

Youth of Tomorrow, Marc Alexander – Social Entrepreneurship Champion

Change Your World, Angela Simone – On-Line Social Entrepreneurship Champion

UM-Flint Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby – Special Judges Award

Both Boost Mid-Michigan and Moving On Up were designed to nurture an entrepreneurial culture in mid-Michigan.  Launch received dozens of videos from aspiring entrepreneurs with some very good ideas. The angel investors who viewed these videos and heard other business pitches are serious about helping these creative people thrive here in mid-Michigan.

In an effort to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income individuals and families, University of Michigan-Flint’s University Outreach partnered with Mid Michigan Community Action Agency to coordinate seven community gardens across central Michigan. Mid Michigan Community Action Agency is a non-profit, human services agency serving Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Mecosta, Midland and Osceola Counties since 1966.

Overall, over 45,000 square feet of garden space was planted in Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Mecosta, Midland and Osceola Counties with the collaboration of several local agencies.  The seven gardens produced more than 6,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables including potatoes, greens, cabbage, tomatoes, melons, peppers, brussels sprouts, eggplants and beets that were distributed throughout mid-Michigan.

In addition to providing fresh produce, the gardening project offered educational opportunities to learn about growing food and cooking healthy foods using fresh produce.  A few workshops were held throughout the mid-Michigan region in hopes of encouraging more home gardens.  University of Michigan-Flint students were also involved in the project.  A group of four communication majors designed a comprehensive communication plan for the gardening project as a service-learning component to their Senior Seminar.

University Outreach and Mid Michigan Community Action Agency community gardens grew and distributed over 6,000 lbs of fresh produce to low-income families!

The 2009 growing season also marked a new partnership with the MichiganWORKS! Summer Youth Employment Program.  MichiganWORKS! supported central-Michigan youth, ages 17-22, in their provision of daily care for four of the gardens while MMCAA and UM-Flint’s University Outreach provided oversight for their summer of work.  When asked about their interest in gardening, the youth said that they were happy to be learning gardening skills, responsibility, and teamwork.  One youth was particularly surprised to find out that gardening was more exciting that he had anticipated: “I thought it was going to be boring but it isn’t.  Now I know that if I get bored or hungry, I can grow my own food.”