Hello all! It’s Ashlyn with the University of Michigan-Flint Outreach Department here in Flint, MI. My primary role this past year has been to build connections between the University and our Flint Community Education Initiative, which runs in all 11 Flint Community Schools (FCS).
The Community Education Initiative brings many community partners together to offer a variety of support for Flint families and youth. The main goal of this initiative aims to make Flint schools the hub of the neighborhood. What many people may not know is that Flint was the first city to implement the Community Education Initiative back in 1935. Flint was the model for community education until the 1970s when the drop in student numbers and program funding removed the program. Although the program was eliminated in the 1970s, many cities, non-profits, and school districts across the country continue to build on Flint’s community education model.
Thanks to a partnership between the Crim Fitness Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and various other partners, the community education model has been revamped and now runs in all 11 Flint Schools. The resurgence of the program began in 2013 with 2 AmeriCorps VISTAs (one of which was in my current position). It has now expanded to over 50 Flint Community School AmeriCorps Members and 11 Community School Directors in total.
As FCS and UM-Flint students went on summer break, things have slowed down for me. It has allowed time for reflection of my year at UM-Flint, evaluation of what information I want to pass onto the next VISTA, and preparation for my own self goals and plans. Last year, I served as a VISTA member at one of the Flint school community education sites. With my second year coming to a close at UM-Flint, I can say that I have learned and grown so much throughout these past two years as a VISTA. I’ve become more confident and able to take on tasks that I never thought I would be able to do before! This is pretty short and sweet, but I just want to say that I’m thankful for the time I have spent at UM-Flint, and I can walk away from this year knowing that I truly made a difference. There were difficult times, stressful moments, and nerve-wracking experiences, but I wouldn’t take any of them back for the world. It’s truly been a journey, and I’m ready for my new beginning. I’m proud to have served as an MNA VISTA. Best of luck to the rest of my cohort and see you soon for our end of year celebration!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!