Community Impact Projects

UMSI students are available to help with information projects for community organizations that can run from a single day to a full term.

Students typically work on information-related projects that organizations don't have the in-house skills, resources, or time to accomplish. Organizations generally are non-profits or public-oriented, but other types are organizations are eligible to submit proposals also.

These projects vary widely in terms of how many students they involve, and are intended to give our students the opportunity to use their skills to make an impact on their community before they even leave UMSI. Projects usually run during the academic year, starting in September and running through April. All information-related projects are considered; specific examples of past projects include:

  • Review of website or software, assessing for improvements in design and usability
  • Processing, organizing, cataloging, and/or digitizing collections or records
  • Organizing and analyzing large sets of data for better use
  • Instructing youth or underserved populations on technology use
  • Analyzing information flows and providing recommendations for increased efficiency
  • Development of applications, such as a simulation for education purposes

For students

Where: Project dependant. Many organizations are local, so some onsite work may be necessary, though some projects may be remote.

When: Projects can last from one day to the full semester (or beyond). Scope will be determined during one of first meetings.

Eligibility: Any UMSI student who completes the OPCE community engagement orientation session and agrees to the terms of the Community Impact Project program.

Cost: Free. Some projects may qualify for the Community Impact Project Grant.

How to apply: Contact 


For organizations

Where: Onsite at your organization or remote work

When: Year-round

Eligibility: Non-profit and social sector organizations

Cost to organizations: None

How to apply: Submit your project to this form.

Contact: Email for more information or call Alissa Talley-Pixley at 734-764-1865


students working on project

UMSI students worked with six organizations over the past year on seven Community Impact Projects at the local and global levels. Projects for 2014-2015 ranged from digitizing Ann Arbor news clippings to redesigning the website of an organization assisting children in crisis in Benin.

A complete list of projects includes:

Ann Arbor News Archive (Ann Arbor District Library)
The Ann Arbor District Library is working on digitizing a million film negatives and several hundred thousand news clippings from the former Ann Arbor News. Eventually, the photos will be featured in the AADL's blog, Old News. Over the course of one school year, UMSI volunteers entered metadata for over 12,000 files. Students who participated in this project included Troy Leonard (project manager), Megan Morrissey and Sarah Clayton. 

Dagbe Website Evaluation and Redesign
Dagbe, a non-profit organization that assists children living in central Benin who are in crisis situations, wanted to redesign its website to increase online donations. In the first phase of the project, CIC students assessed the website’s user experience, conducted comparative analyses of similar websites, and developed mockups for the redesign. The second phase of the project, which began in fall semester 2014, involved using a Wordpress template to construct the new Dagbe website. Participating students included Angie Carrier (project manager) and Sofia Gutierrez.

Ozone House Simulation
Ozone House, located in Ann Arbor, provides services for at-risk youth. UMSI volunteers developed a web simulation of the experience of homeless youth in Washtenaw County. The site enables users to create a narrative that follows different experiences of homelessness. Besides raising awareness, the website will be used for training and presentations. Participating students included Alice Rhee (project manager), Kristyn Sonnenberg, Sharon Kaziunas, Iyad Addawood, and Alicia Napoleon.

University of Michigan Hospital Emergency Department
This project involved designing a system that enables emergency room supervisors and charge nurses to assign responsibilities to individuals according to their previous shifts and qualifications. The goal of this project was to create a tracking system that distributed shift assignments fairly. UMSI students created a mockup of the system’s user experience design. Participating students included Eugenia Kuo (project manager), Sarah Anderson, Wan-Ting Lin, Vincente Lee, and Bhawana Mishra. 

WCBN Cataloguing project
WCBN, U-M's student-run community radio station, has an extensive collection of music on both CD and vinyl that has yet to be inventoried in a useful way, forcing DJs to manually search for a particular item. WCBN has used to create a digital archive for internal use, but has only been able to catalog about 3 percent of its holdings. UMSI students used Discogs to catalog WCBN’s recordings into their online database. Participating students included Cecilia Caride (project manager), Alyssa Hanson, Rebecca Rasmu, and Mandi Gonzalez. 

WCBN Digitization Project
WCBN, U-M’s student-run community radio station, has a collection of cassette tapes of 1920s jazz that had been converted from 78 rpm records. In order to preserve these recordings and make them more accessible, volunteers digitized these tapes. Participating students included Cecilia Caride (project manager), Alexa Hagen, and Daina Andries.

SRS Online
SRS Online provides online, video-based litigation training for law students and young lawyers and wanted a website that was more user-friendly. UMSI students performed a heuristic evaluation of the website and made recommendations for improvement. Participating students included Alicia Napoleon (project manager), Troy Leonard, Jackie Wolf, and Noureen Dharani.