The optiMize moMentum Fellowship

Introducing the moMentum Fellowship

In the last week of June, optiMize piloted our moMentum Fellowship, a two day event that provides prospective transfer students working on social impact projects the opportunity to explore the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus. Seven current community college students who are either interested in or will be transferring to Michigan participated in the Fellowship. moMentum provided students with a travel stipend and project funding in addition to two days of workshops, exposure to campus, and project presentations. 


The participating students came from Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) or Henry Ford College (HFC). Fellows from GRCC participated in the honors program, where they began the development of their projects. More on participants and their projects: 

From Grand Rapids Community College:

Anders Rottschafer & Amina Eliman - Environmentally friendly pesticides to increase bee population. 

“In North America alone, more than half of our 1400 bee species populations are declining, and a fourth are heading toward extinction. Our team decided to find a sustainable way to raise awareness for the bee population declines among the Grand Rapids public. We came alongside Growing Green Grand Rapids to develop a canvassing program for them.”

Tikvah Finn & Amalia Leyva Nuñez - GRCC Community Garden

“Our project is a community garden on our campus that provides fresh produce from May-October to our college's food pantry. This garden also serves as an opportunity for nutrition education for high schoolers and college students. There will be monthly free cooking classes offered to students who use the food pantry, which will teach them how to cook their produce.”

From Henry Ford College:

Elyas Perry - Michigan Democracy Institute for Civic Engagement

“At MDICE and the Democracy Institute, we work to bring students together to engage in the democratic process. We believe that the only way to achieve a healthy democracy is to insure that students are civilly minded, and understand how government works. Throughout the year we work with students across South East Michigan to craft policy and lobby representatives.”

Kierra Scott - T-Shirt Voting Campaign

Partnering with existing campus organizations at HFC such as the Black Male and QUEENS Focus Group and the Democracy Institute, Keirra Scott is creating a t-shirt campaign to bring voter awareness to HFC’s campus. 

Carrie Welch - Summer Camp with ABC Youth

“My project involves taking 60 youth and chaperones to the Base Camp Challenge Center in Flint, MI, with the goal of encouraging cooperation and teamwork, and building morale. The field trip would be the ‘capstone’ experience of ABC Youth's free, year-round program that includes tutoring during the academic year and a four-week skilled trades training in the summer (including electrical, plumbing, culinary, and carpentry skills, along with job readiness and character training). All youth who successfully complete the program will be eligible for the Base Camp field trip.”

On the first day of the fellowship, students presented their projects to UM Social Innovation Challenge fellows, staff, and mentors at the optiMize Community Dinner. The students also participated in the prototyping workshop, where they were able to present prototypes of their project for feedback from mentors and peers. 

The following day, students received advising from UM Newnan Advising staff, participated in a workshop put on by the LSA Opportunity Hub, and had the opportunity to ask questions during the student panel. 

After the two day event, moMentum Fellows continue receiving resources and support from optiMize staff at U-M Ann Arbor. Fellows will be invited to weekly dinners and provided information to help them transition to college life at U-M.

The moMentum Fellows have all done incredible work on their projects, and we are so excited about what they have and will accomplish!