MIAD and VISTA Partnership Offers Kids a New View


On a Saturday in January, 40students in grades 6-12 from localschools participated in CreativeFutures: Colleges and Careers.This new outreach programaims to bring awareness to precollegescholarships offered by theDepartment of Public Instruction(DPI) and introduce highachieving,low-income studentsto higher education. The DPI precollegescholarship allows studentswho qualify for free or reducedlunch and have a minimum gradepoint average of 2.0 to take threepre-college classes free of tuitioneach year.

Creative Futures included anintroduction to pre-collegecourses, college writing workshopand presentations in which studentmentors from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) discussed their challenges and successes as college students andintended future career path.

The Creative Futures participants were excited about the day they spent at MIAD, and almost 50% took advantage of the DPIscholarship and enrolled in pre-college courses. In a program evaluation, many students mentioned their hopes to attendcollege. One student wrote, “This program really did help me out because it made me want to go to college, because at first Iwasn’t sure.” The 25 MIAD students involved with Creative Futures also enjoyed the enthusiasm and excitement the studentsbrought to the college.

MIAD is leading art colleges across the nation in a new trendof campus/community partnerships, service learning and civicengagement. Service learning is an educational tool combiningacademic objectives with service to the community. As the onlyart and design college in the country with a service learninggraduation requirement, MIAD’s commitment to service learningis rare. Through a program combining rigorous academic workwith a required 50 hours of community service, MIAD’s collegestudents volunteer at a wide range of nonprofit organizations,such as women’s shelters, enviromental groups and afterschooltoutoring programs.

To encourage the development of new campus/communitypartnerships and support service learning, MIAD’s OutreachDepartment hosts an AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteer In ServiceTo America). AmeriCorps*VISTA is a national service programin which full-time volunteers create and sustain programsdesigned to address poverty. The VISTA position at MIAD ispart of a state-wide project made possible by Wisconsin CampusCompact, whose goals are to develop partnerships among highereducation institutions and low-income communities to createprograms that improve the academic achievement and aspirationsof low-income K-12 students.

MIAD’s current AmeriCorps*VISTA, Bernadette Witzack, assistswith Outreach Programming, acts as a servicelearningand volunteer coordinator, and planscivic engagement opportunities for students.Witzack works closely with MIAD faculty and theDirector of Community Outreach, Josie Osborne(a Riverwest resident); and Karin Wolf, SpecialPrograms Coordinator.

Witzack assisted with several service-learning projects and Outreach Department programs this year. Oneintroduced students in grades 6-12 at six Milwaukee Public Schools to higher education and the arts throughtours of MIAD by college student docents and mentors, and workshops about MIAD’s majors. Other civicengagement projects include a new partnership in which MIAD service-learners assisted with and edited highschool

students’ college entrance essays, and a silent art auction to benefit Hurricane Katrina survivors.

MIAD remains committed to strengthening campus/community partnerships as the college continues to be anation-wide leader in civic-engagement opportunities that help students become active, engaged members ofsociety who understand the importance of grass-roots social change. As one MIAD student service-learner saidafter helping a student with her college-entrance essay, “This was a good experience, a feeling of service. I amactually feeling very hopeful for (the student) and will be keeping in touch with her to see if she achieves hergoals.”

Riverwest Currents online edition – June, 2006