The University Record, September 6, 1994

U, Detroit group receive $750,000 AmeriCorps grant

By Janet Nellis Mendler
News and Information Services

The University and the Michigan Neighborhood Partnership (MNP), a coalition of Detroit community groups, will receive a first-year grant of $750,000 as one of the state’s first AmeriCorps programs.

A “domestic Peace Corps,” the Ameri-Corps program is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, D.C. Created last year as part of President Clinton’s national service program, the Corporation invited colleges and universities to propose programs to serve communities and provide tuition benefits to students.

Nine such proposals were selected for the state, and will be administered by the Michigan Community Service Commission in Lansing, whose chair is Michelle Engler, attorney and wife of Gov. John Engler. Michigan State, Oakland and Eastern Michigan universities also received grants.

According to social work Prof. Barry Checkoway, one of three people helping to direct the U-M/MNP program, the grant will create a unique partnership for service and learning involving MNP and five U-M graduate and professional units: the schools of Business Administration, Public Health and Social Work, the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and the Institute of Public Policy Studies.

“The University of Michigan has a long history of undergraduate involvement in community service learning,” Checkoway notes. “This particular program is the first that brings graduate and professional units together in an interdisciplinary effort for community service.”

Working with Checkoway are Edwin L. Miller, professor of business administration, and Charlene Johnson, MNP executive director.

MNP is a non-profit organization that represents business, educational, religious, government and non-profit agencies in the Detroit area. Among them are the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, the Cass Corridor Community Development Corp., Core City Neighborhoods, Joy of Jesus, Latino Family Services, Operation Get-Down, the Southwest Detroit Business Association, and United Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit.

“In its first year, the program will create ‘community service teams’of 40 community and student participants starting in January 1995,” Checkoway says. “We’ll be making special efforts to recruit participants from socially diverse backgrounds and from the target communities to be served.”

The group will address specific educational, public safety, human and environmental needs in Detroit and other Michigan areas. In return, the AmeriCorps participants will receive a living allowance and an educational award.

Among the first tasks facing Checkoway, Miller and Johnson will be developing a community-campus coordinating committee to plan and implement the program.