Eastern Michigan University
Jessica "Decky" Alexander
Director, Office of Academic Service-Learning
203-D Boone Hall
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti MI 48197
The Academic Service Learning (AS-L) Office was launched in 1994 by Dr. Dale Rice, a special education professor through a 'Learn and Serve' grant.
His primary motivation for establishing an Office of Academic Service-Learning was to engage college students in service. Dr. Rice wanted to provide resources to the community, help students feel more connected, and increase students' civic mindedness. As a professor, he saw a need to get students and faculty involved in community service activities and as a member of the Ypsilanti community he knew there was a need. In short, he wanted the University community to become active members in their community.
The Office of AS-L, is one of the University's most prominent and prolific areas for University and community programming. The Office of AS-L's core mission is to train faculty in integrating service-learning or community into courses and/or curriculum. Support is also given to faculty to develop community based programming and scholarship beyond course development. The Office of AS-L took the lead on the crafting and writing of the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement proposal. EMU received this designation in 2008.
AS-L Fast Facts
- The Office of AS-L has generated over $900,000 in grants and contracts since 2006.
- Conservatively more than 10,000 Eastern Michigan University students have been engaged in a community service experience through an academic service-learning course.
- On average faculty integrate approximately 10 hours of service per student, therefore community agencies have received over 100,000 hours of service.
Current and recent grant-funded programs, initiatives and programs of the Office of Academic Service-Learning include:
The B.Side incubates ideas and projects of youth to foster a culture of entrepreneurship. These projects are supported through enterprise, business education and mentor relationships, which teach self-sufficiency, and the initiative in realizing their self-defined goals. Through us, youth are promoted as an asset within the local business landscape.
Digital Inclusion is a program striving to reduce the technology gap that exists in low-income communities. We provide basic computer refurbishment training to low-income and at-risk youth, low cost to no cost technical support and most importantly access to affordable technology
CrossTown Theatre Troupe (CTT) is made up of local middle and high school youth from surrounding Washtenaw and Wayne counties. We work to create a platform for youth voice and seek to increase community engagement, access to youth perspective and generate community dialogue. CTT strives to recognize what issues the youth community deems most important, provide a safe place for teens and young adults to share their experiences, highlight the diverse nature of our neighborhood and help establish a greater sense of accomplishment for the youth community.
Across the country, many college students volunteer through their post-secondary institutions to work with K-12 youth as mentors, tutors, event-specific participants, etc. College Positive Volunteers (CPVs) are those college students and their administrators who are aware of how they impact the college enthusiasm and readiness of the K-12 youth they interact with as they volunteer in local communities.
Art Around Town is a social enterprise that provides supplies and resources for students to create art products, which are then sold through exhibitions to area businesses and members of the community. Proceeds raised will be used to purchase art supplies, field trips, guest speakers and additional art programming. To view media coverage for Art Around Town click here and here.
College Coaching Corps
College Coaching Corps is a partnership program between EMU, the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) and local school districts: Milan High School and Ypsilanti New Tech. The College Coaching Corps was created to give graduating high school seniors and juniors around Washtenaw County both guidance and support in applying to colleges, as well as preparing for the transition into becoming young adults. By helping the students, the College Coaches are also assisting the counselors in the high schools by giving them more of an opportunity to focus on the emotional aspect of getting ready for college that some students may be troubled by. The coaches also provide the students with someone to talk to that is still in college, giving them more of a way to connect to their helpful resource.
The College Coaching Corps team consists of Amber Hawkins, William Horton-Anderson, and Jessica Hendricks. A very hardworking and enthusiastic team, the three Graduate Assistants are in their schools a minimum of twenty hours a week to work with the students in exchange for paid tuition and an opportunity to get hands on training in their future careers as counselors. This alone shows how much of a mutual partnership there is between the coaches and the schools in that they both really gain from one another. When speaking to the three coaches, the common goal amongst them was that they wanted to ensure that every student knew that there was “more” for them after they graduated. Whether it be a college, university, or an institute to learn a skill.