U-M students spend summer taking ‘Initiative’ to help Detroit organizations

August 19, 2008

ANN ARBOR—Second and third-graders at the Latino Family Services in Detroit excitedly surround University of Michigan graduate student Hsun-Ta Hsu as they reach out for their free toothbrushes.

Hsu, who taught a workshop this summer about the importance of hygiene, was rewarding the young students for correctly answering questions about what they learned in a separate lesson about coping with conflict.

“It feels good to make a difference in these kids’ lives,” said Hsu, who studies social policy and evaluation at the U-M School of Social Work.

Many U-M students like Hsu apply what they learn in the classroom into their participation in the Detroit Initiative, which began in 1995.The program provides opportunities for U-M students and faculty to further their education, service and research at Detroit-area, non-profit organizations.

Latino Family Services, which serves residents in Southwest Detroit, is one of six community partners with U-M.

U-M students assist Latino Family Services’ Youth Department in running the after-school program, which has more than 50 children ages six to 16. The children participate in various activities such as working on computers, taking a field trip to the Detroit library, learning about different cultures and creating art projects.

One component involves U-M students tutoring and mentoring the youth.

“Staff at Latino Family Services appreciate the interest the U-M students have in getting to know the children and their community,” said Lorraine Gutierrez, a social work and psychology professor who advises the U-M students about their twice a week Detroit visits. “Our U-M students are able to see how they can make a difference through positive relationships with the children there.”

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Detroit InitiativeLatino Family Services