Engage Detroit Workshop grants go to five new projects

Source: Michigan News

Kim Lijana, left, director, Center for Educational Outreach, talks about Detroit River Education. At right is Jordan Irving, one of Detroit River Story Lab’s long-standing community partners. Credit: Shaylynn Jones.

Five new projects take off in Detroit this summer with backing from Engage Detroit Workshop grants.

They range from addressing air pollution and environmental justice issues to assisting all Detroit Public Schools Community District students has they prepare for college and careers through a six-week job experience.

The grants come from the Office of the Vice Provost for Engaged Learning. Valeria Bertacco, the vice provost for engaged learning, shared her excitement to fund the third round of projects that include a focus on the university’s principles of civic and community engagement: recognition, respect and equitable partnership.

Since the program started in 2022, 19 projects have received $387,600 in grants.

“The projects were very impressive. The participant group is expanding and we are in awe of the impact that each of the workshops are having. We tried to promote more collaboration among the participants and future connections with community partners at this year’s event, and I think we were successful as the feedback was very positive at the conclusion.,” Bertacco said. “We hope to see continued growth in this series among participants and look forward to seeing the impacts of future workshops.”

The other projects for the coming academic year are:

Clear the Air: Community Workshops for Public Health

Project leads: Barbara Israel, Professor, department of Health Behavior Health Education; Natalie Sampson, Adjunct Associate Professor, department of Health Behavior Health Education & Associate Professor, department of Health and Human Services, University of Michigan-Dearborn (lead faculty contact); Alison Walding, project manager

Community partners: Angie Reyes, executive director, Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.; Simone Sagovac, project director, Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition; Kathryn Savoie, director of Equity and Environmental Justice, Ecology Center (lead community contact); Donele Wilkins, CEO and president, Green Door Initiative

Description: This project aims to address air pollution and environmental justice issues in Detroit. It builds on partnerships with the Clear the Air Coalition and Community Action to Promote Health Environments to engage and educate the community. The project will host a series of workshops in the summer of 2024 to educate Detroit residents about poor air quality, facilitate discussions on public health issues, teach residents how to build DIY air filters, and provide materials to build 80 DIY home air filters.

Detroit River Education

Project leads: David Porter, professor of English Language and Literature and professor of Comparative Literature, College Literature, Science, and the Arts; Kim Lijana, director, Center for Educational Outreach, University of Michigan; Ebony Thomas, associate professor of Education, University of Michigan

Community partners: Belle Isle Conservancy, Black to the Land, Brain Health Arts, Charles Wright Museum, city of Detroit, Detroit Community Sailing Center, Detroit Historical Society, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Detroit Zoological Society, Detroit / Wayne County Port Authority, Friends of the Rouge, Healthy Kidz, Inc., Inland Seas Education Association, James and Grace Lee Boggs School, Lansing Public School District, Mapache Medicine Forest School, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State University, Michigan Underground Railroad Exploratory Collective, Outdoor Adventure Center, Ross & Contemporaries, LLC, Take One Community Program, University Liggett School, Urban Forest School

Description: This project aims to enhance narrative-based river education by organizing gatherings for a coalition of university and community stakeholders. It will bring together participants to learn, plan, and reflect on place-based learning programs. The project seeks to strengthen partnerships with Detroit-area organizations, focusing on developing capacity for related academic year activities. The goal is to create a comprehensive educational experience that involves hands-on activities, discussions, and collaborations. The project will end with a final planning session and potential experiential learning on the Detroit River.

Semester in Detroit: Detroiters Speak Justice in Public Education Edition – Expanding Our Community Classroom

Project leads: Stephen Ward, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, associate professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, director of the Semester in Detroit Program in the Residential College and associate professor in the Residential College, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Craig Regester, student affairs program manager, Residential College and lecturer II in the Residential College, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Rose Gorman, lecturer I in the Residential College and Semester in Detroit program manager, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Community partners: The James and Grace Lee Boggs School, Detroit is Different, 482Forward, LEAP program, department of African-American Studies at Wayne State University

Description: This project explores education justice within Detroit’s diverse school landscape, including charter, traditional public, and others. The series will expand its audience to include faculty from the Boggs School and high school students from 482Forward, bringing new perspectives to discussions on public education in Detroit.

Engineering Detroit’s Future: Empowering Detroit’s Next Generation through Engineering Exploration

Project leads: Leia Stirling, associate professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering and Associate Professor of Robotics, College of Engineering; Albert S. Berahas, assistant professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, College of Engineering; Patricia Alves-Oliveira, assistant professor of Robotics, College of Engineering

Community partners: National Society of Black Engineers Detroit Professionals, Detroit Educational Takeover, Focus HOPE, DAPCEP, Girls Group

Description: This project is a workshop series that introduces high school students in the Detroit area to the disciplines of Industrial and Operations Engineering and Robotics. The two-day sessions cover topics from cognitive and physical human factors to designing robots and machine learning. The initiative aims to inspire students to explore these fields and deepen ties with the Detroit community.

Navigating Technology to Help Detroit Youth Prepare for College and Careers

Project leads: Trina Shanks, Harold R Johnson Collegiate Professor of Social Work and professor of Social Work, School of Social Work; Kim Lijana, director, Center for Educational Outreach.

Community partners: Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, The Employment Equity Learning and Action Collaborative, Detroit Public Schools Community School District, Detroit College Access Network

Description: This project aims to build on the success of Grow Detroit’s Youth Talent summer youth employment program to assist all DPSCD students in preparing for college and careers. It involves employing 8100 Detroit youth aged 14-24 for a 6-week job experience, focusing on career exposure and job readiness. The project also aims to engage students with the Xello platform, an online program for career development, by working with lead agencies within the GDYT program and holding workshops.

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