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Telling It is an award-winning community-based program designed for under-served school-aged youth that has established a close collaboration with the University of Michigan’s Residential College service-learning course, Empowering Community through the Arts. Deb Gordon-Gurfinkel is the course’s lead teacher and Telling It Founding Director.

Empowering Community through the Arts” offers students a collaborative learning experience with Residential College faculty, artists and community members from local agencies serving families and youth. Students explore how this genre affects personal, community and societal transformation both in class and at their weekly community-based internships in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor or Detroit. Telling It is one of the internship options associated with this course. The Telling It internship opportunity bridges the academic and neighboring communities. As a result of their experience, many U-M students express a desire to continue their commitment to social justice through a career that involves community service.

Telling It, founded in 2002 is a community-based after-school program that supports the healing and learning needs of under-served school-age youth using best practices from social work and education filtered through the creative arts so they can lead safe, healthy and fulfilling lives. The program is designed to meet the needs of school-aged youth so they can reach their full potential as engaged community members. The goals are twofold: 1) in collaboration with community stakeholders, local artists, and the youth themselves, provide a rigorously trained team that support youth in their communities by co-creating a healing environment where youth can address barriers to their success. 2) Provide opportunities to improve emotional literacy, practice soft skills that are essential for effective social interaction, empower self-agency, reframe self-image, activate change when change is desired, build cognitive skills, address obstacles, stimulate writing, and literacy skills.