The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

Ginsberg Center staff regularly meet with local community partners in the social sector (nonprofits), civic sector (government agencies) and education sector (k-12 schools) partners in Southeast Michigan. We gather and collect their community-defined priorities to share with university partners.

In light of the University's responses to Covid-19, we have adjusted the Ginsberg Center's approach by offering virtual support to our stakeholders and encouraging virtual engagement, in addition to in-person engagement. In addition, we have provided guidance for how you can support your community partners throughout this uncertain period. The Ginsberg Center will continue to work to make accessing and coordinating information easier during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Please use and share the Connect2Community volunteer portal which highlights Covid-19-related priorities as well as remote engagement opportunities.

U-M's Impact Beyond Our Campus

While we have been thinking about and planning for the impacts of Covid-19 for us and our students, as community-engaged scholars and practitioners we know that changes at U-M will have broader impacts. U-M is the largest employer in Washtenaw County, so any changes on campus has had and will continue to have real, immediate consequences for many—regardless of their direct affiliation with the University. Some of our most vulnerable community members are older adults, people experiencing homelessness, and those who are homebound. The impacts of the pandemic on our local community has been evident – from the increase in food insecurity to job loss to the shift to on-line learning for local students. Recognizing the impact of our campus on our surrounding community is critical to understanding how we best serve our mission as a public university.

Safety is our priority but engaging with communities is allowed

Given the ongoing effects of the pandemic, we continue to encourage folks to be safe as you work with others in communities. The majority of tasks can be done while social distancing and masking, and there are numerous ways to offer remote support for those who still wish to help but cannot offer direct support. Any community support provided is strictly voluntary, and direct community service should only be done by those who are fit and well with no symptoms.  We want to emphasize that your safety is a priority.

  • Per the Provost's Office Engaged Learning guidelines
    • Faculty and staff are encouraged to let their Dean's office, Department Chair or key Admimistrator know of any university-related off campus engagement opportunities. 
    • Due to variations in requirements across departments, students are encouraged to consult with their school or college well in advance of their departure to ensure all requirements are met.
  • Keep in mind that programs should adhere to the U-M vaccine requirement and mask mandate while conducting University business.
  • If you are working with youth, please review the Children on Campus guidelines. 
  • Please visit the Center for Campus Involvement site for details on supporting student organizations engaged in service.

We have updated our FAQ section to reflect standard best practices along with some of the additional considerations related to the current crisis and its impacts on community engagement. These practices are informed by research, as well as numerous conversations with our partners.

How can I...


Plug into existing direct and remote efforts such as short-term service opportunities?

  • Use our Connect2Community web portal to explore volunteer opportunities in southeast Michigan. This online portal keeps a real-time list of individual and group opportunities to meet community-identified needs. Connect2Community is managed by the Ginsberg Center in partnership with EMU's VISION Volunteer Center and the United Way of Washtenaw County.
  • We know from past natural disasters and emergencies that initial waves of volunteers often become fatigued, creating the need for replenishment and respite personnel. The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be no diffferent; so we ask that you please check the portal regularly for new opportunities to contribute to our community as needs arise and shift. 
  • Learn more about how to search by interests and other filters (including remote opportunities) here.

Connect with local organizations for sustainable long-term relationships?

  • Meet with Ginsberg staff to explore our database of relevant opportunities that align community-defined priorities with your:
    • Teaching: topics, learning objectives, and/or discipline-specific skills
    • Research: current or potential projects for you or your students
    • Service: relevant opportunities to which you can lend your time and expertise
    • Academic Programs: content area or skills
  • Explore multiple examples of ways to connect with community-defined priorities.
  • Contact us at to set up a meeting.

Learn more about Ginsberg collaboratives that support campus-community partnerships?

  • We support collaboratives that bring together university and community partners around similar community-identified prioritities that can not only build community capacity in these areas but also give faculty and students the chance to practice skills and meet educational goals.
  • Contact us at if you would like to learn more, join one of these collaboratives or explore other potential collaboratives with us.


Initiate an effective campus-community partnership?

  • Be mindful that not all organizations’ timelines will match the University’s academic calendar, so reach out early enough to be able to work through scheduling challenges.
  • To find a partner through the Ginsberg Center, we recommend contacting us at least a month in advance. Budgeting extra time to connect with partners has become even more critical as partners continue to adjust to the pandemic.
  • At the first meeting, have an open conversation to discuss and establish mutually agreed upon expectations.
  • We recommend documenting in writing the expectations for a partnership.
  • For support with implementing these recommendations, contact us to set up a consultation.  

Set students up for success for establishing effective campus-community partnerships?

  • If students will be working remotely, it is important to discuss what virtual engagement will look like with students and partners ahead of time – expectations, communication plans and relationship building
  • Please review and share with your students the Wolverine Culture of Community Care Pledge + Toolkit
  • Numerous community partners have shared the challenges of working with students effectively when partners have no prior knowledge about the course or program from which students are engaging.
  • We recommend instructors first contact community partners, prior to having students initiate contact.
    • Reach out to partners prior to the start of the class or program to provide background information including course/program objectives, hours or project. requirements involving the community partner, length of requested involvement, etc.
    • Discuss with the partner how they would like to be involved.
  • If you are considering asking students to find their own opportunities as part of your class and do not plan to contact community partners in advance of students initiating contact.
    • Have students contact partners in the first 2 weeks of the semester, well in advance of when an assignment is due
    • Have students learn more about the organization prior to initiating contact
    • Provide students with a summary of the course context they can share with partners when they initiate contact, including course objectives, hours or project requirements involving the community partner
  • Help prepare students to work effectively with community partners.
    • The Community Engagement MOOC offers online training for ethical engagement.
    • The Ginsberg Center offers additional support to prepare your students:
      • We offer introductory and follow-up workshops to prepare students that can be tailored to your needs.
      • Ginsberg Center staff can also work with you to support your use of the MOOC. Contact us to set up a consultation.


Arrange transportation for my students to visit community partners?

  • The University offers multiple options on their Transportation website, though many or all of these transportation options may be disrupted during the Covid-19 crisis.
    • Faculty can rent vans/buses through the University.
    • UM does not rent to individual students. Students can use UM vehicles if they have an affiliated account through a sponsored student organization account..
    • Students can use their Mcards for free rides on public transportation via AATA & TheRide, in addition to UM buses. Learn more here.
    • The D2-A2 Bus can also be an option for students doing work in Detroit.
  • If you, as a faculty member, want to cover the cost of vehicle rentals for students, you can establish an account students could then use.
  • LSA Faculty can use CEAL-Ride, managed by the Residential College, which provides transportation support for Community-Engaged LSA courses.
  • If you are advising a sponsored student organization, they can request a vehicle through the university.

Acknowledge community partners’ contribution to my course, research or program?

  • In recognition of the significant contributions partners make to student learning, we recommend compensating community partners for their time and effort.
  • Have an open conversation with partners about how they would like to be compensated, since partners' preferences vary.
  • We recommend a range from $100-$150 for guest speakers, and suggest offering more if they are co-instructors and/or helping to inform course design.
  • Some partners prefer to not be compensated directly, but rather to have funds go directly to the organization. Other partners have mentioned preferring in-kind support such as volunteer hours from students or other forms of support.
  • The partner/organization may also need to complete a W-9 vendor form to be listed as a vendor within the UM system. To allow funds to be directed to an organization, partners can submit an invoice detailing the service provided.
  • Due to the current spending freeze, in-kind or other forms of support may be necessary to consider if honoraria are not possible. We recommend confirming what is possible and preferred with both your department and your community partner(s).

Access additional funding for my community-engaged efforts?

  • The Ginsberg Center offers faculty grants for community engaged research and teaching in partnership with several other units on campus. 
  • Additional funding opportunities are also listed on the Engaged Michigan site.
  • Contact us at ginsberginfo@umich.eduif you have any questions about these funding opportunities.