Get Started with Service Learning

Community organizer Emma Toth with donated food at the Food is Free pantry in MKE. Source: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Welcome to MIAD Service Learning! This semester, Spring 2022, MIAD Service Learning is suspending in-person placements (with the exception of outdoor placements) due to the COVID outbreak. While we are sorry to have to restrict in-person placements, our top priority is the health and well-being of our students, and we are working to provide alternate opportunities that are as fulfilling as possible. Our courses have always been designed to encourage students to get involved with the greater Milwaukee community in rich and meaningful ways, and we hope to continue to do that in unique and innovative ways despite COVID restrictions.

Service Placement Requirements

Before choosing a service placement for this semester, please look through the following requirements. If you have any questions, please contact Chelsea through to discuss.

  • Students are required to complete 10 hours of volunteer service by midterm and 35 hours by the end of the semester.
    • Students who do not have 10 hours complete by midterm will be asked to drop the course.
  • A contract must be filled out by the student and the supervisor at the organization they are volunteering for in order for those hours to count for the course.
    • Multiple contracts can be filled for multiple placements, though we strongly encourage volunteering at one organization, and at least one contract is due by midterm.
    • If your placement does not have a supervisor (such as a remote placement for a national group or a self-directed project,) more directions will be provided at the beginning of the semester.
  • Service hours must be done with a registered nonprofit organization that is local to the greater Milwaukee area. Volunteer work done for family members, individual artist practices, or places of business, do not qualify for this course.
    • Remote placements with national groups are allowed. These groups must still be nonprofits or directly benefiting nonprofit organizations.
    • Self-directed projects must have a ‘deliverable’ that benefits a nonprofit organization, preferably local to your area.
  • The service placement or project must be pre-approved by MIAD Service Learning or a course professor.
  • The project supervisor on your contract will be asked to fill out an evaluation of your performance at the end of the semester, and their answers will factor into your grade.
    • If your placement does not have a supervisor (such as a remote placement for a national group or a self-directed project,) more information will be provided at the beginning of the semester.

How to Choose a Service Placement

In order to begin your required service hours, start by considering what type of placement you might want to volunteer with or what sort of project you may be interested in building. Would you be open to working outdoors (remember that most of the semester, it will be cold!), running a fundraiser, collecting data for scientific research, or managing social media for a local nonprofit?

If you’re unsure of where to start, MIAD Service Learning has a long list of local organizations that we partner with, all listed on the “Who We Work With” page. The Featured Placements list highlights some opportunities that have available for you. Spend some time looking through the featured placements on this page to get some ideas for where you might want to volunteer. You aren’t required to choose one of these organizations, but they are a good starting point. NOTE: Not all organizations will be offering remote or outdoor volunteer opportunities.

Who We Work With

If you are interested in doing a self-directed project, begin by reading through the “Building the Initial Project Idea” document linked below to get an understanding of what a good project idea looks like and how to get started.

Building the Initial Project Idea

Your first assignment for the semester is to fill out the Student Interest Inventory, linked below. NOTE: You must use your MIAD login to access this link. The responses that are collected with help the Service Learning assistant suggest some opportunities for your service placement.

Student Interest Inventory

Once you’ve submitted your answers, the Service Learning assistant, Chelsea Beiler, will contact you within a week to give you some suggestions for places you might be interested in volunteering based on your answers. If you would like to set up a meeting or send an email to discuss your options for service learning, please use the following email:

Chelsea Beiler
Academic Service Learning Assistant
Office hours: Mon-Thurs, 10am-4pm

Beginning your Service Placement

If you are planning on volunteering in person outdoors or with remotely with a local organization we strongly suggest reaching out as quickly as possible. Some organizations have limited volunteer opportunities or may be busy and take a while to respond, and the sooner you contact them, the better your chances of getting started with your service hours in a timely manner. Chelsea will send out information about how to contact the volunteer coordinator at the organizations she suggests, and can help you get in contact with other organizations you’re interested in.

If you don’t receive a response to an email within a few days of sending it, we strongly encourage you to make phone calls to try to get in contact with the volunteer coordinator. Many nonprofit organizations run with a small staff and may take a while to respond to emails, so you may have more success over the phone.

In the event that you are unable to reach a volunteer coordinator or the placement doesn’t work out, we recommend having backup options. Early on, choose one or two backup organizations, and be ready to contact them if you don’t hear back from your first choice within a week.

If you would like to volunteer through an online portal all of the information regarding how to fulfill your tasks will be on the website provided. You will need to let your instructor know what placement you’ve chosen and you will be evaluated based on your journal entries.

If you would like to create a self-directed project, follow the directions provided in the “Building the Initial Project Idea” document above to come up with a short summary of your project to send to your instructor. Once your instructor has signed off on your project idea, they will send you a template for writing the full project proposal.

If your class is facilitating a group project, refer to the directions given to you by your instructor.

Contract and Timesheet

When you start volunteering, you will be required to fill out a contract and have your supervisor at the organization you’re volunteering with sign it for you. You are required to turn in a contract by midterm in order to pass the course, so we recommend bringing it with you to your first volunteer shift or orientation meeting and have it signed then. We also recommend letting your supervisor know that they will be asked to fill out an evaluation at the end of the semester based on your performance.

Service Placement Contract

You will also be required to keep track of your hours using the following timesheet. Your supervisor will be asked to confirm the hours you served. In order to use this timesheet, please go to File > Make a Copy, which will create your own copy in your personal Google Drive. You will not be able to edit the original file.

Service Learning Timesheet