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About Us

As one of the University's Michigan Learning Communities, MCSP combines the personal attention of a small school with the extensive opportunities of a large research institution.  Our program attracts students with a variety of academic interests who share a commitment to community service.  MCSP helps students transition smoothly from high school to college and prepares them for leadership roles on campus and in their future careers. Students and faculty members meet for classes and office hours and participate in student-organized events in West Quad -- where MCSP students live.  Our living-learning environment creates a comfortable sense of community within the University.  MCSP is sponsored by the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and University Housing.

What do we do?

  • Bridge the living and learning aspects of university life
  • Share a commitment to social justice, democracy, and a diverse community
  • Lead local, national and international community service initiatives

High Impact Educational Practices

MCSP offers unique educational opportunities for undergraduates, which have been widely recognized for their positive impact on student learning, academic achievement, and student satisfaction with college. These include:

  • Learning communities
  • Collaborative projects
  • Close faculty-student interaction
  • First-year seminars
  • Writing-intensive courses
  • Common intellectual experiences (G. Kuh. 2008. High-Impact Educational Practices. Washington, D.C.: AACU)
  • Community service-learning and civic engagement activities
  • Diversity

MCSP Components

  • ALA 102, The “common intellectual experience” course for MCSP
  • First Year Seminars
  • “Learning in Community” Courses (community service learning & intergroup dialogue)
  • English Composition Courses
  • Academic Support
  • Student-run Programming Board
  • Community Service Action Teams
  • Leadership Opportunities: Resident Advisors, Peer Advisors for Programming, Peer Advisors for Community Service, Peer Mentors, Action Team Coordinators, Webmaster
  • Community and a "home" at the U-M

Community Service Opportunities

Community Service Clubs: Our Community Service Clubs, led by our Peer Advisors for Community Service (PACS), enable students to explore specific social issues in depth. Each group meets weekly for educational and service-oriented events about their issue. The groups also plan service trips to different community partner sites across the Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit area. Since MCSP students have a wide variety of interests, they can join as many teams as they would like!

  • Youth, Education, and Poverty Club
    Sites: American Indian Health and Family Services, Brightmoor
  • Civil Rights, Borders, and Immigration Club
    Sites: Freedom House, Michigan Language Center
  • Sustainability and Public Health Club
    Sites: Ann Arbor Parks, TBD
  • Alternative Weekends Club 
    Sites: Ronald McDonald House, Relay for Life, Detroit Partnership Day, Rabbit Sanctuary, Food Gatherers, Flint

IRC: MCSP’s Intergroup Relations Council is a student organization sponsored by MCSP to encourage intentional efforts to build upon its proven track record in serving a community that embraces the diversity and engagement of its students, staff, and faculty and gives strong support to its underrepresented students. The IRC organizes dialogue-style conversations with students on a range of topics both within MCSP and in collaboration with other campus units, educates and supportsstudents from various social identity groups within MCSP, and works to build a strong positive climate for diversity and learning. The IRC also develops programs for MCSP and campus community that focus and educate on diversity, including issues of power and privilege, collaborates in planning such programs with a variety of units on campus, assists in training students for community service and civic engagement by emphasizing boundary-crossing and bridging in order to work effectively and constructively with populations across diverse backgrounds, and helps in planning for MCSP’s MLK Day events (Circle of Unity and others), MCSP’s social justice film series, and coordinating outside speakers. 

PB&U: Our Programming Board (PB&U) takes a grassroots approach by giving first-year students the chance to create social and service events for their learning community.  In the process of planning engaging programs, they develop lifelong leadership and community-building skills.  Past PB&U events have included a canoe trip to clean-up the Huron River, a Diabetes Awareness Dinner to demystify this commonly misunderstood disease, and a pumpkin-painting party to make Halloween decorations for local families in need.

SHOCK: An entirely student-run program, Students Helping Others Choose Knowledgeably (SHOCK) began under the name of the MCSP Drama Troupe during the 2001-2002 year as a way to get MCSP students involved in the greater Ann Arbor community. Using original skits focusing on substance abuse, SHOCK travels to Ann Arbor fifth grade classrooms encouraging students to remain drug free.

Smile Bringer Singers: MCSP’s newest student group takes a musical approach to community service.  Started by first-year Sasha Altschuler, the Smile Bringer Singers perform uplifting songs at local shelters, hospitals and nursing homes.  They have spread happiness through harmonies throughout Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and they annually sing an inspiring set at MCSP’s “Circle of Unity” event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

University-Community Social & Environmental Justice Film & Discussion Series: MCSP partners with the Ann Arbor District Library to show films on a monthly basis at the public library highlighting social issues. Film directors, faculty, students, and community leaders lead discussions following the films.  Past films have included Bilal’s Stand, Asparagus, Fremont, USA, The Waterfront, Of Civil Rights and Wrongs, Prom Night in Mississippi, Grown in Detroit, Philosopher Kings, An Untold Triumph, Finding the Gold Within, and The Human Experiment.

Upcoming films for Fall 2016 are: The Hunting Ground, Never a Bystander, and Black & Blue

Brightmoor Youth Gardens:  Inspired by the urge to learn about urban and environmental issues simultaneously, MCSP students established a partnership with the Brightmoor Community Garden in Detroit. Initially, Brightmoor resident Riet Schumack created the garden to enliven her dilapidated neighborhood. Since 2010, MCSP students have helped Riet recruit local youth to plant seeds and learn about organic farming.  In the process, they have modeled leadership skills for Brightmoor’s young men and women and increased access to local produce in Detroit’s food desert.  Together, the MCSP students and local youth have brightened Brightmoor’s future.  To see this inspiring group in action, just play the YouTube video below!

Wolvereaders: MCSP first-year students Maria Cholack and Amani Echols started the Wolvereaders program in 2016, creating another community service opportunity for students to partake in. The group travels every other Monday to Estabrook Elementary School in Ypsilanti and read to children for the afternoon. Not only do MCSP students read to the children, they encourage the children to read back to them, helping them improve their reading proficiency. In its first year, the Wolvereaders initiative has gained much popularity in the MCSP community, and will only expand further in the upcoming years. 

SWAP:  From 2009-2015, MCSP student Melanie Hebeisen started Scarves with a Purpose (SWAP) as a creative way to help the homeless.  Every Tuesday night, she invites students to gather to knit scarves for people in need.  Within its first year, SWAP’s popularity spread so far that it opened its doors to everyone in MCSP as well as everyone on the U-M campus.  Even students who have never knitted before are welcome!  SWAP churns out so many scarves that it donates to multiple locations including the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County and the Tumaini Center in Detroit.