Flint Community Initiative

Leveraging community assets for Flint's future

downtown Flint Michigan

Service Learning Opportunity in Flint

Minimum of $3000 scholarship is included!

The Flint Community Initiative prepares and invests MSU's most vital resource -- the time, gifts and talents of students passionate to make a difference -- to engage in meaningful work in nonprofit community organizations in Flint while providing our students with a unique opportunity to develop skills in hands-on, collaborative community development projects.

The Context: Flint in the Aftermath of the Water Crisis

Flint Michigan farmer's market

Precipitated by cost-saving measures that led to the poisoning of the water supply, the Flint Water Crisis has served as a catalyst for community change during the past five years. Yet like many Rustbelt cities, the city had struggled with the effects of decades-long economic disinvestment prior to the crisis. The magnitude of the crisis, however, spurred a bottoms-up, collaborative approach to creating authentic community development as a path forward to enhance the health and well-being of the city and its residents.

Our Mission

The Flint Community Initiative began its internship program during the Summer of 2019. At the core of our mission is the belief that the key to revitalizing distressed areas is to look at neighborhoods and communities not for their deficits but for their assets. Our internship program pairs students and leaders of nonprofit community and civic organizations to engage in collaborative, community-driven projects that help to expand community assets and contribute to a thriving future for Flint residents.

Program Essentials

  • The program runs for 10 weeks during the summer plus one intensive weekend orientation.
  • Faculty and staff work with community partners to place students for a community-based internship project experience.
  • Students enrolled in 6+ credits will receive a minimum of $3,000 scholarship to defray living, work, and transportation expenses.
  • Housing options are provided as part of the program in the Riverfront Residence Hall.
  • Open to advanced undergraduate and graduate students across every major and College.
  • Students take a 3 credit project-based skills course (SW 492/ SSC 490 - Flint Community Initiative: Asset-Based Approaches to Community Work), plus 3-6 internship credits (SSC 493).
  • Students interested in taking only the skills course (SW 492/SSC 490 - Asset Based Approaches to Community Work) should contact program coordinator, Monica Villarreal, villar42@msu.edu.
  • All class sessions and internships will be in-person with potential for hybrid format depending on COVID-19 guidelines and project needs.
  • Faculty leaders work with students and their community supervisors to achieve a common goal: the completion of one or more products from a high-impact project that build upon the ways our nonprofit agency partners utilize and leverage existing assets to address social, political, and economic priorities within the community.
  • During the internship, students will have opportunities to network and connect with community leaders representing various backgrounds and work experiences.

2022 Community Projects

Environmental Transformation Movement logo

Environmental Justice + Restorative Justice (EJ + RP) Leadership Development Program Internship

Students working with the Environmental Transformation Movement of Flint will gain hands on experience with grassroots community organizing. Interns will update and further develop the EJ + RP curriculum to include in-person and virtual delivery formats. The EJ + RP Program aims to increase resident knowledge, skills, and practice to organize and advocate for environmental justice issues. Students will also help develop a Flint EJ Map and work closely with neighborhood groups.

Community Engagement Project Management Internship

Flint DDA logoThe Downtown Development Authority works with community stakeholders and small businesses in Downtown Flint area. Students will help to build strategic partnerships and strengthen relationships with Flint community partners and small businesses to promote a downtown that is active, thriving, and inclusive. Students will develop and pilot a survey to assess the economic impact of downtown events and to identify the strategies that support business and community.

Flint Neighborhood Profile Internship

Neighborhood Engagement logoStudents will work with the Neighborhood Engagement Hub and community leaders to develop a comprehensive profile of Flint Neighborhoods that include assets, amenities, geographic information, contact information, historical information, photos and other media to help tell the story of Flint Neighborhoods. This project will be featured on the NEH website.

Grantmaking and Equity Evaluation Internship

Community foundation logoStudents will work with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) and Flint community organizations to assess current ways of data collection and reporting and to review/evaluate previous grant-making initiatives through a lens of equity. Students will assist the CFGF and grantees to create more meaningful change in their neighborhoods and in the City of Flint.

Edible Flint Program Impact and Future Opportunities Internship

Edible Flint logoEdible Flint supports Flint and Genesee County residents in growing and accessing health food to reconnect with the land and each other. Students will work with Edible Flint to measure the impact of the organization’s programming by developing a survey and conducting interviews. Students will experience the Edible Flint Educational Farm and connect with community gardeners, backyard gardeners, and small-scale urban farmers in Flint.

Application and Contact Info

Applications for 2022 have closed now. Applications for 2023 will be available during the next academic year.

To learn more about the program, contact: Monica Villarreal, villar42@msu.edu.

Scholars Showcase Ceremony at the Applewood Estate from Summer 2021

Group of students from Flint CI program
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Scholars Showcase Ceremony at the Applewood Estate from Summer 2019

Please visit our Scholars Showcase Ceremony event page to learn more about our student's experiences during the summer of 2019.