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, Fall 2021, MIAD Service Learning is returning to in-person placements for students fulfilling their required volunteer hours. Our courses have always been designed to encourage students to get involved with the greater Milwaukee community in rich and meaningful ways, and we strongly believe that in-person placements foster a greater sense of community.

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 servicelearn@miad.edu 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.
  • 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.
  • The organization must be pre-approved by MIAD Service Learning or a course professor.
  • A maximum of 15 hours of service can be off-site “desk work.” The majority of the volunteer work must be done on site.
    • Community art projects like murals or art classes do not contribute to this cap.
    • If you are interested in doing remote art and design work for portfolio or resume experience, please contact career services.
  • 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.

How to Choose a Service Placement

In order to begin your required service hours, you must first pick out an organization that you’d like to volunteer for. If you already have an organization in mind, such as a church congregation you’re active in, a nature center you like to visit, or a school you’ve attended, let your professor know as soon as possible so they can sign off on your choice.

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. Spend some time looking through the organizations 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 pre-approved, so you don’t need to get your professor to sign off on them for you before getting started.

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.

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
servicelearn@miad.edu
Office hours: Mon-Thurs, 10am-4pm

Contacting a Placement

Once you know where you’d like to volunteer, 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. You should contact at least one organization to inquire about volunteering within the first few weeks of class. 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.

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

Volunteering FAQ