During Alternative Spring Break, February 29-March 4, seven Detroit non-profit organizations will benefit from the skills of eleven UMSI student volunteers who will, in exchange, gain valuable hands-on experience in a range of areas, from historical archives to immigrant aid to community development.
First-year MSI students Micaela Hunter and Pengfei Wang will be working on a Detroit Climate Change website for Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. “I chose this project because it will allow me to experience something new while contributing to the initiative of the organization to provide a voice for environmental justice to the urban residents of Detroit,” said Micaela. “The Detroit Climate Action Collaborative project sparked my interest because of its goal of environmental conservation in the community. We will have the opportunity to learn while assisting them in the redesign of their website.”
Other Detroit-based projects and participating students in 2016 ASB:
Detroit Historical Society
“Be Kind, Please Rewind”
Scott Kirycki (MSI Class of 2017)
The Detroit Historical Society is dedicated to telling Detroit’s stories and why they matter. Scott will work in the digital department of the group’s collections resource center, with thousands of artifacts from automobiles to documents. His main task during ASB will be to work on rehousing 1,500 tapes in the organization’s storage facility as part of an ongoing, large-scale video digitization project. Possible side projects include blogging, watching and cataloging film and preserving digital video.
“Choose your own adventure”
Yueran Zhao (MSI Class of 2017)
The Detroit Ledger documents the changing landscape of philanthropy in Detroit and tracks over $3B in grants made in the region since 2010. The student will have the option to support and strengthen the project in one of two ways during ASB: by researching and recording data about grants and board membership information for Detroit-based nonprofit organizations or by developing front-end web designs to guide the Detroit Ledger in better communicating with its users. Either path supports work by nonprofit professionals, journalists and researchers to gain a better understanding of grant-making in Detroit.
International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit
Junhui Li (MSI Class of 2017), Wu Wang (BSI Class of 2016), Jessica Kim (BSI Class of 2017)
The International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit (IIMD) was founded in 1919 by a group of YWCA volunteers who sought to help legal immigrants adjust to life in the United States. IIMD today is a United Way for Southeastern Michigan agency with a variety of programs to aid immigrants as well as cultural and educational opportunities for all. The students will spend their spring break improving the organization’s website, establishing an e-newsletter and otherwise improving IIMD’s online presence.
Matrix Human Services
“Networked Information Informational Kiosk System”
Vishnu Mahendran (MSI Class of 2017)
As part of its mission to empower individuals and families to enhance the quality of their lives and achieve self-sufficiency, Matrix Human Services (MHS) serves 25,000 Detroit and Southeast Michigan residents annually through 12 programs operating at 50 facilities. Through a partnership with Head Start, the number of service locations is set to almost double next year. During ASB, Vishnu will work on developing an information kiosk network among the dispersed service locations to make it easier to provide up-to-date information to clients, staff and Head Start parents. A second goal will be to more efficiently capture simple client intake information with minimal staff effort through interactive applications on the kiosks.
Urban Neighborhood Community Development Corporation
“Building tomorrow’s people today”
Qiongyu Meng (MHI, Class of 2017), Diane Pham (MSI, Class of 2017)
The purpose of Urban Neighborhood CDC is to create healthy communities by building educational, economic and environmental resources in communities. The group also works to create self-help initiatives to allow communities to have the proper knowledge base and understanding to better organize and sustain their own neighborhoods. To further advance this mission, the ASB participants will work on data mining projects that look at developing mapping layers to identify causalities behind violence and help build safer communities
Urban Neighborhood Initiatives
“Putting It All Together: Measuring the Impact of UNI in Southwest Detroit”
Meng Zhang (MSI, Class of 2017), Dolorence Okullo (MHI, Class of 2017)
Urban Neighborhood Initiatives works with communities in urban neighborhoods to build safe and thriving environments where people want to live, work and play. In the Springwells neighborhood of Southwest Detroit, UNI runs a number of programs, many funded by grants, that care for, educate and train children and young people. During ASB, the volunteers will develop a dashboard that can be used throughout the organization to track impact in Springwells and make program data more measurable, with a goal of developing a system that integrates the group’s attendance and programming database with the accountability objectives of the funders.