Skip to main content

University of Michigan School of Information


Alternative Spring Break 2020: Community service across the country

Friday, 02/28/2020

During the University of Michigan’s 2020 spring break, March 2-6, a group of students will dedicate their week to service-oriented learning experiences through the School of Information's Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. Since 1999, this UMSI initiative has paired students with nonprofit, cultural, governmental and educational institutions throughout the U.S. in service to local communities. This year, more than 45 UMSI students and their peers will travel to six locations and work with 17 unique organizations across the country.

Here in Michigan, MSI students Jing Cao and Amber Ma will join BSI student Sadhana Ramaseshadri in analyzing donor data at Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program, a nonprofit after-school mentoring and athletics program for Detroit students, in order to increase funding and expand enrollment. 

Another group of UMSI students will embark on a tour of Michigan libraries across the state, interviewing library staff about civic engagement and how cities can better work with libraries. Look for MSI student Hannah Stoloff’s vlog of the trip on the Michigan Students’ Vlog after the group returns.

In New Orleans, MHI student Thomas Krouse and MSI student Ziwei Wang will join Zeping Tao of the Institute for Social Research and Lingyun Guo of the Computer Science and Engineering program. The students will build off an existing technology audit to better capture volunteer data for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity chapter and address what specific data to capture in an ethical and legal way. 

MSI students Li Yueyuan, Brad Peters and Joe Henrichs, along with Rackham economics student Junyu Wang, will travel to Alabama to assist the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History and Reconciliation Foundation. The students will spend their week assessing the foundation’s current website and planning a comprehensive and user-friendly virtual archive of Tuscaloosa’s role in the mid-1900s civil rights movement.

Learn more about ASB from students as they undertake these projects, and many more, by searching the #UMSIASB and #UMSIASB20 hashtags on social media. In addition, follow along with MHI student Katherine Garrison as she takes over the @UMichStudents Instagram account to document her experience in Washington DC helping the Open Technology Institute at New America with data analysis on its Cost of Connectivity project. Or hear from MSI student Michelle Tao on her work with KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) DC creating a website to house its K-12 literacy curriculum, as she takes over the @UMichStudents twitter beginning March 1. 

UMSI is proud to continue this 21-year tradition and the larger picture of community engagement and improvement that it represents.


The organizations served during ASB 2020 are:



Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program


Arts & Scraps

Allied Media Projects



New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity



Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History and Reconciliation Foundation



Southwest Florida Community Foundation & SFCF FutureMakers Coalition



Open Technology Institute at New America

National Security Archive

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Preservation Research and Testing Division, Library of Congress


Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution



Lansing District Libraries

Charlotte Community Library

Alma Public Library

Coopersville Area District Library

Grand Rapids Public Library


- UMSI News Service