Center for Innovation Research

iLabs and Ford Community Corps Support Local Non-Profits

Over the past several years, University of Michigan-Dearborn faculty and students have worked on multiple projects resulting from a partnership with the Ford Community Corps and iLabs. The goal of these projects was to foster student engagement with non-profit organizations (NPOs), and to leverage UM-Dearborn student and faculty talent to provide data-driven solutions to challenges faced by NPOs in Metro-Detroit.

Over the course of this project, over 70 students, 10 faculty members, and 89 NPOs were engaged in various projects lead by iLabs. Most recently iLabs coordinated with faculty from across the UM-Dearborn campus to work with six NPO organizations and engage 60 students on several Academic Service Learning Projects.

From January to May, students at UM-Dearborn worked to prepare taxes for low income individuals with the Accounting Aid Society in Detroit; develop comprehensive PR and marketing campaigns for the Girl Scouts of America, Detroit Zoo, Build Institute, and Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation; and developed a set of recommendations and an impact report for Mercado Food Hub in Southwest Detroit.

Magaly Urista, Manager at the Mercado Food Hub in Southwest Detroit recalls the experience in working with iLabs students over the past five months:

“I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when we began the project. In the end, I was impressed by the information that was presented. The analysis of data from the Mercado and the community that we serve was eye opening. A lot of the facts that were presented were facts we were already aware of through experience and observation at the Mercado. Yet we had no way of measuring or collecting the necessary data to prove it; and this is where the magic happened. This is where we realized that the opportunity for the Mercado to grow with programing, development, inventory management, and volunteer involvement was present; yet going unnoticed for so long.”

iLabs will launch the 2016 iteration of the project in January 2016 with a new round of projects.