Building a Better Workshop Series
Leveraging Our Networks to Expand Youth Development and College Readiness.
Mentor2Youth, a local organization with a mission that focuses on empowering young people in Southeast Michigan, was seeking support in the creation of a workshop series around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) to expand college readiness for youth involved in their programs. Leveraging our University networks, we identified a subset of student organizations with a STEM focus and conducted outreach to gauge interest in participation. Ginsberg worked with the student organizations to develop and lead a workshop series in coordination with one another and in direct collaboration with Mentor2Youth.
The result was an eight-week workshop series for 2nd-8th graders from January to March 2017 that harnessed the specific expertise of students in STEM studies, and the foundation for additional series for years to come. Looking forward, additional training will also be provided to University students on effective strategies for engaging youth, thus expanding their own skills in the process.
Connecting the Dots with Data
Utilizing the Community Technical Assistance Collaborative to Maximize Campus and Community Impact
During needs assessment meetings with Ginsberg Center staff, data and evaluation support were identified by nearly all community partners as a significant area of need. In response, our team engaged a Social Work faculty member with a data and evaluation background and together initiated the Community Technical Assistance Collaborative (CTAC). This quick deployment of skilled Graduate students supports a deeper, more meaningful learning experience, meets the teaching and research needs of faculty, and expands capacity and expertise for local community partners. Since launching CTAC last fall, additional faculty have joined and more students have become involved, including a Graduate student organization with a focus on statistics and data.
One example of CTAC's expanding reach is a current community-wide assessment of supports and impediments to citizens 60 years old and older being able to 'age in place', with financial support from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. Another CTAC project, examining the impact of recent nutritional benefits policy changes, was awarded funds in the most recent round of funding from Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan.
The Future of Philanthropy at UM-Athletics' Mock Rock event.
Since 1999, University of Michigan student-athletes have hosted Mock Rock, a talent and variety show that raises tens of thousands of dollars for charity. This year, the Ginsberg Center was engaged by student leaders of Mock Rock to support the group's exploration of a beneficiary for funds raised in 2017. Our team met with Mock Rock leaders to research local organizations that would be a good match for the group's goals. Beyond identifying a partner, we catalyzed their expansion of this partnership and its presence at the event; to raise awareness of true partnership and its benefits; and to build a relationship that expanded the quality of the event itself and extended beyond what the group thought possible.
The result was a Mock Rock event that continued to match expectations for entertainment and fundraising (bringing $30,000 to the partner), but which now engaged its chosen beneficiary, Fresh Start Clubhouse, in ways that were not part of the event in the past. Deep issue-awareness was woven into the performance, and attendees were given a closer look at mental health topics through first-hand testimonial and information-sharing. Prior to the event itself, Mock Rock leaders toured the organization's space and learned more about its mission and impact. Representatives from Fresh Start Clubhouse were invited to athletic events and coordinated a joint resume workshop for athletes and Fresh Start members alike. What was previously a transactional relationship taking place over a single evening is now blossoming into a true partnership with significant impact on both the local organization and students at the University of Michigan.
Opening Doors for Success
Expanding Opportunities for Youth in Washtenaw County
Conversations with community partners illuminated a community priority of increasing the scope of a summer youth employment program in Washtenaw County that had just wrapped up a successful pilot year. Summer17, a Ginsberg Center collaboration with Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and partners across Washtenaw County, builds from that successful program by bringing University resources and research to the 9-week summer employment and mentorship program. Here, youth ages 16-24 are connected with a variety of experiences that expand skills, build confidence, and open doors in today's competitive job market. Further expanding our commitment to the program, the University of Michigan will serve as the employer for up to 60 youth while Poverty Solutions and the Youth Policy Lab will conduct research to understand the impact of summer youth employment more broadly.
Reflections Moving Forward
This year's success is an exciting first chapter and significant step toward building a stronger foundation for this work at the University of Michigan. Our next steps are rooted in knowledge gained from this first year, from the multitude of partnerships and matches created, and from dozens of network matchmaking events and consultations. We collected critical information about community needs and priorities, existing campus-community partnerships, and factors that contribute to success. Perhaps most importantly, we confirmed the understanding that effective approaches with lasting impact are often multi-disciplinary, sustained, and collaborative in nature, beyond a singular course, faculty, or student effort. We look forward to continuing to support and connect multiple schools, units, and students with community partners poised for change, in order to truly maximize impact.
Together, we can expand our idea of "Leaders and Best" and unlock the full potential of our University in service to the public good.