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 plans for the near future to focus on offering virtual support to our stakeholders and encourage virtual 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 are naturally thinking about and planning for potential 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 will 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. Since March 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

Per Governor Whitmer’s executive orders, we are all encouraged to minimize contact with others. One of the exceptions is to volunteer with groups that are helping provide food, shelter and other necessities during the crisis. The majority of tasks can be done while social distancing and there are numerous ways to offer remote support for those who cannot offer direct support but still wish to help. 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.

Depending on the MI Safe Start Plan Phase, students must register or seek approval before engaging

Per the Provost's Office Engaged Learning guidelines

  • During Phases 4 or 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan (click here for the latest updates), students must register any in-person engaged learning activity. We recommend faculty or staff encourage and/or track students' completion of this registration.  
  • During Phases 1, 2 or 3, students must seek approval by completing a Student Application for Engaged Learning before an in-personal engaged learning activity, including written approval from their academic unit

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...

[CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITIES]

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. Given the nature of Covid-19, the possibility of this is even greater. Therefore, we ask that you please check the portal regularly for new opportunities to contribute to our community as they arise. We are in communication with U-M-Dearborn’s Office of Metropolitan Impact and U-M Flint’s Office of University Outreach, which are working to support and gather information on how you can connect to emerging needs in Metro Detroit and Flint, respectively. 
  • 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 ginsberg.matchmaking@umich.edu to set up a meeting.

Use a collective impact approach for campus-community partnerships?

  • Collaboratives that bring together university and community partners around similar community-identified needs can not only build community capacity in these areas but also give faculty and students the chance to practice skills and meet educational goals.
  • As an example, the Ginsberg Center coordinates the Community Technical Assistance Collaborative (CTAC), which focuses on data and evaluation. If you are interested in learning more about CTAC, contact us at ginsberg.ctac@umich.edu.
  • We also support issue-based collaboratives, allowing university and community partners to regularly connect and strategize to support and develop ongoing partnerships.  
  • Contact us at ginsberg.matchmaking@umich.edu if you would like to join one of these collaboratives or explore other potential collaboratives with us.

[ESTABLISHING EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS]

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 during the current crisis.
  • 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.
  • Contact us at Ginsberg.engage@umich.edu for support.

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.

[MANAGING LOGISTICS]

Arrange transportation for 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 Detroit Connector 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.

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 Ginsberg.Engage@umich.edu if you have any questions about these funding opportunities.