Community Projects

Academic Service-Learning Mini-Grant Projects

In a Different Key - Movie Screening and Community Discussion

Dr. Leslie Blome, along with a team of Communication & Speech Disorder faculty and students, as well as Special Education students, will collaborate to create a community event, for EMU and the greater Ypsilanti community, that centers on bringing a screening of the movie In a Different Key: A True Story of Love, Autism, and the Fight to Belong to our campus. A town-hall-style discussion will be facilitated following the screening of the movie. The movie In a Different Key was inspired by journalists Caren Zucker and Jon Donvan’s Pulitzer-prize nominated book of the same name. In a Different Key follows the first author’s very personal experience as she navigates her own son’s autism diagnosis. The documentary delves into the history of autism and portrays the stories of people with autism with honesty and compassion, exploring their needs and their gifts. It is an inspiring and candid portrayal of autism that sparks honest conversations and promotes understanding. At its heart, it is a story about the importance of community and belonging.

Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement in Ypsilanti

This project will use the opportunity of an optional class project in the Fall '23 semester of the course CRM 431 Policing in Society, led by Dr. Kevin Karpiak. In it, students will have the opportunity to work alongside a faculty member conducting a community-engaged research project in Ypsilanti funded by the National Science Foundation.

Students will attend and conduct participant observation during the public meetings of Ypsilanti's Police Advisory Committee (YPAC). In addition, they will attend weekly "lab" meetings in which they compare and interpret individual observations. Also in those weekly meetings, they will work to identify criminal justice questions and challenges that arise in those meetings, as articulated by Committee members and in public comment. The Chair of YPAC, and potentially other YPAC members, will be regular invitees to the "lab" meetings, as students work to formulate projects that can mobilize their training to serve articulated community challenges.

Celebrating Linguistic Diversity: Learning and Building Community

This project will involve a series of events designed to raise awareness and facilitate conversation about linguistic diversity—where it comes from, why it’s valuable, and the problems of discrimination on the basis of someone’s language. In addition to serving this crucial educational purpose, the series will likewise provide opportunities to create and strengthen ties between students, staff, and faculty from diverse disciplines and members of the broader community. There will be two events this academic school year, one of which will includea screening of the film Signing Black in America, about Black American Sign Language, and include one or more members of the Black deaf community to participate in the discussion.

Building Capacity for Place-Based Education at Eastern Michigan University

This project funds undergraduate students and teacher mentors in surrounding school districts to participate in Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative's Place-Based Education conference in Grand Rapids, Nov. 9-11. Undergraduate pre-service teachers are experiencing and learning about a place-based approach through AS-L projects in their curriculum and practicum classes taught by Ethan Lowenstein. Dr. Lowenstein is the Director of the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS Coalition), an organization with a local and national reputation for providing teacher and community partner support for deepening place-based practice. The project will fund a group of undergraduate students as a requirement for their Professional Learning Event Participation Project as well as mentor teachers from neighboring districts like Ypsilanti Public Schools and Detroit Public Schools Community District. The project will enable teachers who are entering the field to 1) build their professional networks, 2) increase their sense of efficacy in using AS-L and PBE approaches, 3) learn from other practitioners across the state and nation, 4) feel like they are part of a community larger than themselves who is doing leading edge practice.

Engaging Detroit’s East Side to Preserve Civil Rights Heritage

Under the directon of Dan Bonenberger, Eastern Michigan preservation students have been working over the past two years to identify, designate, and preserve places related to Black civil rights heritage on Detroit’s east side, including homes associated with Sarah Elizabeth Ray, Gladys Mitchell Sweet, and Malcolm X. This project would help the program to engage with community organizations and individuals, such as the Detroit Black Historic Sites Committee and historically Black east side neighborhoods near Conant Gardens, the city airport, and Clairpointe/Tennessee/Conner.

Integrating Wellbeing in an Afterschool Program for English Learners

Over the years, the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program offered a traditional afterschool program at Estabrook Elementary funded by a Federal grant. The project was so successful that even after the grant closed, YCS found resources to pay for buses and the EL (English Language) teacher supervising the program. Through this grant, Zuzana Tomas and TESOL will be able to offer this program in collaboration with Growing Hope in an attempt to increase the wellbeing of the participating ELs and preservice teachers. TESOL will be able to prepare lessons and activities that can be delivered in a hands-on fashion, as these students help harvest and prepare food, following the principles of Place-based education and other experiential models of education.

"Enlighten U" Podcast

Enlighten U is a polished and professional conversational video podcast recorded monthly on EMU’s campus. Limited to 30-40 minutes, it is hosted by Public Relations Professor Lolita Cummings and Exec. Director of Media Relations and Social Media Melissa Thrasher. Accompanying Cummings and Thrasher at the table is a changing EMU mental health guest professional and a changing EMU guest student or alum. This unique combination of a classroom faculty member, media professional, mental health professional and student -- along with its intergenerational component -- makes for lively, therapeutic, informative and supportive discussions. The grant will provide the podcast with a regular student intern.

ESL Open Tutoring

As an Academic-Service Learning course, TSLN325W, taught by Wendy Wang, integrates community service with academic learning to enrich students' learning experiences and enhance academic learning outcomes while addressing the critical needs of English language learners (ELLs) in the local community. In partnership with Washtenaw Literacy*, this course will provide three-hour ESL Open Tutoring training (which includes How ESL Open Tutoring Works and Lesson Planning for ESL Open Tutoring) to prepare students for community engagement. An essential component of this academic-service learning course involves critical reflection on how integration of community service with classroom discussions broadens and deepens students’ understanding of the linguistic and sociocultural challenges facing ELLs. Students will be engaged in sharing and reflecting on their academic-service learning experiences and the impact of their contributions to the local community and their own professional development.
  • 2022

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    • Muhammad Ahmed, Engineering Resource Management & Bright Futures
    • Decky Alexander, Applied Drama and Theatre & Student Advocacy Center
    • Marisol Garrido-Gutierrez, SPNH 482/582 & Ypsilanti Senior Center
    • Krish Narayanan, Women in Computer Science & Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.
  • 2021

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    • Alicia Jones, Occupational Therapy & A Brighter Way
    • Alicia Jones, Occupational Therapy & Alternatives for Girls
    • Jamie Ward, PURL 221 & Alternatives for Girls
    • Jamie Ward, PURL 333 & Alternatives for Girls
    • Imandeep Grewal, EDPS 322 & 826Michigan
    • Megan Sterling, Eta Sigma Gamma, Public Health Education & Peer Health Exchange
    • Wendy Wang, TSLN 332 & Center for Success
  • 2020

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    • Jessica 'Decky' Alexander, CTAR 504 & ReGen Theatre with Ypsilanti Senior Center
    • Megan Sterling, HLED 345 with Big Brothers, Big Sisters & Eta Sigma Gamma Honorary with Peer Health Exchange
    • Jamie Ward, PURL 221 with Chance For Life
    • Marisol Garrido-Guitierrez, SPNH 430/530 with Ypsilanti Senior Center
    • Krish Narayanan, Women in Computer Science Org with Detroit Community Technology Project
  • 2019 

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    • Darlene Leifson, CTAR 300 with Erikson Elementary School
    • Imandeep Grewal, EDPS 322 with 826Michigan
    • Jamie Ward, PURL 333 with Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley, PURL 221 with Arts and Scraps
    • Keisha Lovence, NURS 608 with Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan and with Alternatives for Girls
  • 2018

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    • Imandeep Grewal, EDPS 322 with 826Michigan
    • Lolita Cummings Carson, with LifeBuilders
    • Matt Cook, GHPR 335 with Habitat for Humanity

Academic-Service Learning Project Highlights

CTAC 359 and EMU Bright Futures

Small Group Communication Theory courses work to incorporate community-based activities as a medium to enhance academic learning while aiding the community at large. Goals for students are to develop crucial academic skills imperative for working within a group dynamic. In so doing, students forge stronger relationships by strengthening interpersonal development, practice theoretical understanding of small group content, while exercising leadership and communication skills. Additionally, students’ experience with AS-L exposes them to the needs of community, learn and reflect on civil responsibility while keeping in mind basic principles of professionalism: reliability, cooperation, flexibility, courtesy and respect. A key to community-based activities is to satisfy the mutually defined needs of both the academic course and the community partner. The partner for this project was EMU Bright Futures 21 st Century Community Learning Center. The defined need for the community was the development and creation of educational tools in the form of board games to assist the learning goals of afterschool programs. An investigation of topics and themes needed for these tools was conducted and student groups selected subjects. To produce the product, students were given the opportunity to asked poignant questions regarding the community, work to research educational tools for the desired population and adhered to specific criteria/guidelines established by course design.

  • 2020

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    • Anita Rich, EMU/WCC Prison Theatre Group
    • Dyann Logwood, Mentoring Youth in Urban Spaces
    • Kathryn Ziegler, Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility
    • Ramona Caponegro, Diversifying Estabrook Elementary School's Library
    • Rocco Sulfridge, Community Based Board Games for Bright Futures
    • Wendy Wang, ESL Open Tutoring Group
  • 2019

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    • Anita Rich, Theatre Group Project with the Woodland Correctional Center
    • Celeste Hawkins, Making Youth Matter Mentoring Program
    • Imandeep Grewal, Ypsilanti Photo-Voice Project with Ypsilanti High School
    • Katy Greenwald, Washtenaw County Biodiversity Survey with Ann Arbor's Natural Area Preservation Department
    • Rocco Sulfridge, Board Game Project with EMU Bright Futures
  • 2018

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    • Celeste Hawkins, Mentorship Project
    • John DeHoog, Ypsilanti Bench Project with Riverside Park
    • Leslie Atzmon, Marketing Project with Growing Hope
    • Rocco Sulfridge, Board Game Project with EMU Bright Futures

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