Overview of the Project:
The Sugarbrook Community Engaged Learning Project is a partnership between the School of Social Work, Habitat for Humanity, & the residents of Ypsilanti’s Sugarbrook neighborhood. The partnership was facilitated, & has ongoing support, by the Ginsberg Center. Through fostering meaningful, equitable relationships, students leverage university resources to help Sugarbrook residents advance their equity, & overcome obstacles resulting from historic & ongoing racial & economic oppression. Students have joined the neighborhood's resident-led Action Teams, including Amenities, Neighbor Relations, Kettering, & Youth Activities, working with residents as they conduct neighborhood action to improve their lives. Some of these actions include advocating for speed abatements & curbs from the township, addressing neighborhood safety concerns, working with Ypsilanti Community Schools to convert an abandoned school site to a neighborhood green space, and conducting activities & events for youth, & events to foster and strengthen neighbor relations. In conducting this work, students use an asset, strength-based organizing approach, focused, & helping residents to identify, their capacity, resources, motivation, & tools for change. Students participate in resident-led action that includes a process of collaboratively identifying neighborhood issues, assessing history & context, identifying actionable objectives, implementing interventions, evaluating outcomes, & sustaining change. In doing so, students learn real-life application of social work tenets, tools, & organizing strategies, such as the necessity of fostering genuine relationships, being aware of identities & their intersection with power & privilege, understanding that those affected by an issue, know best the solution to that issue, & that social work practice is approaching environments, individuals, groups, & communities, with a focus on strengths & assets - not deficits.