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Programs : Brochure

Detailed information about this program is shown below.
  • Locations: Chicago, United States; Detroit, United States; Fort Myers, United States
  • Program Terms: Winter
  • Restrictions: UM applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications, please see Dates & Deadlines or contact the sponsoring office for more information.
Program Description:

UMSI Alternative Spring Break


UMSI annually hosts an Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Program where MSI, MHI and BSI students take part in a professionally-oriented experience while providing capacity building services to nonprofit, cultural, governmental, and educational institutions in Chicago, Detroit, Fort Myers, and student-initiated project cities during the week of spring break. ASB creates the opportunity for students to engage in a service-oriented integrative learning experience; connects public sector organizations to the knowledge and abilities of students through a social impact project; and facilitates and enhances the relationship between the School and the greater community.
ASB challenges students to....

  • Bring impact to the community through service to an organization and its constituents
  • Develop professional skills through the connection of information concepts and practices in an immersive, experiential project
  • Build a foundation to become a socially-engaged information professional

The ASB program at UMSI was initiated in 1999 and was a foundational project for the Initiative for Information Impact. Since its inception over 1,000 students have donated more than 45,000 hours of service.


The following criteria will be used to determine a student's eligibility to participate:

  • Students must be currently enrolled in the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (MSI, MHI, or BSI program only)
  • Students must be in good academic standing to participate (minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA)
  • Students must apply to participate by the application deadline (see Dates & Deadlines below)

Students will be selected based on overall quality of application and ability to commit to the following:

  • Students selected will be required to attend a pre-departure orientation
  • Students selected will be required to take part in a Community Engagement Orientation
  • Students selected will be required to take part in reflective activities before, during and after ASB
  • Students selected will be required to work approximately 35-40 hours on a project
  • Students selected will be expected to represent the ASB Program, UMSI and the University of Michigan by acting responsibly, respectfully, and professionally in all places, with all people, at all times


Expenses for round-trip transportation, and lodging for six nights in the host cities are funded through fund raising and UMSI support. Each student participant is responsible for paying a $200 program fee.

Application Procedures

Students must complete the application and apply via M-Compass.  There are two application stages:
  • Application Part 1: Application indicating overall interest in and passion to participate in ASB 2019
  • Application Part 2: Project preference selection and transportation/lodging (post decision)

Questions should be answered completely, and in a thoughtful manner with personal, professional, and service-oriented goals, and motivation for participation in the program clearly expressed. 


Throughout the week of ASB, students work 35-40 hours on a professional project that allows them to utilize classroom learning in a real-world setting, while also providing a capacity building service for the organization. UMSI annually partners with organizations such as the Detroit Historical Society, Shedd Aquarium, Newberry Library, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and many more! Review the 2017 ASB host organizations and projects. Read more about the projects and student impact on our Seelio ASB gallery.

Organizations will continue to submit projects through January 2019. The list of submitted projects and participating organizations will be shared with students regularly during the application period.

Students will choose projects in the second application stage.  In that stage, students will self-select and rank three projects on which they are interested in working. Students that are selected to participate in ASB will then be matched to a project by program administrators.  

The following criteria will be used for matching students to projects that are in high demand:

  • Second year graduate students who have not participated in ASB
  • Active ASB volunteers
  • First year graduate students
  • Second year graduate students who have participated in ASB
  • BSI seniors

Quality of application will be highly considered in matching students to projects. Students that indicate that they can be a car coordinator for cities that use rental cars will be more highly considered in the matching process.

Decisions on participation will be made by the Office of Professional and Community Engagement staff ASB review committee.

Dates & Deadlines

ASB 2019 program dates are March 3, 2019 - March 8, 2019 for Detroit, and March 3 - March 9, 2019 for Chicago and Fort Myers.
  • The ASB Application opens November 29, 2018 and closes on December 9, 2018.
  • The second part of the application (project selection) opens January 9, 2019 and closes January 16, 2019.
  • Students will be notified of project matches by January 25, 2019.
  • Students must confirm participation in ASB by January 27, 2019.
    • Students who withdraw from the program after confirmation and beyond January 28 will still have the program fee withdrawn from their student account
  • Program fee withdrawn from student account on February 15, 2019

Housing & Transportation

All students are welcome to provide their own travel and/or lodging to ASB.  Participants who do so are required to inform the ASB coordination team of their alternative travel plans and/or lodging within a week of being accepted to participate in ASB.  Students with alternative travel plans are still responsible for paying a $200 program fee. Students who communicate about alternative travel plans after the one week grace period will be charged for any fees related to travel changes or cancellations.

ASB Transportation
Travel to Chicago:  Students typically travel to Chicago via bus.
Travel to Detroit: Students may travel to Detroit via the Detroit Connector or other modes of transportation.
Travel to Fort Myers: Students will travel to Fort Myers via airplane

ASB Lodging
ASB participants are provided with accommodations in the following locations:

Chicago: Hostel International Chicago
(312) 360-0300
24 East Congress Parkway, Chicago, Illinois 60605 

Detroit: Hostel Detroit
(313) 451-0333
2700 Vermont, Detroit, MI 48216

Fort Myers: TBD

Students who are matched with a project in Detroit have the option to stay in their home for the week of spring break or at Hostel Detroit. Preference should be indicated in the application.

Participants will share rooms (2-4 people per room) with in-suite bathrooms. Common spaces, wi-fi, and cooking facilities are available at all of the hostels.

Need to Know

The 2019 ASB cities are Chicago, Detroit and Fort Myers, FL.  Students may also select the student-initiated project option, in which they would work with a team to develop an information-related project in a city other than Chicago, Detroit or Fort Myers. Students interested in the student-initiated project plan are required to contact Alissa Talley-Pixley ( by December 7th, 2018.  A separate application will be required and the selection process will be very selective.

Student-initiated projects are projects developed by students with social sector organizations outside of the Chicago or Detroit area which will occur during the week of ASB.  This option provides students the opportunity to leverage pre-existing knowledge, deep interest, relationships or engagements with such organizations and develop projects that will create social impact for the organization and community.

Students who submit interest in a student-initiated project and who are selected to move forward with the project via UMSI ASB will be provided with reasonable funds to supplement costs for travel and lodging.  Projects ideally will have more than one student involved.  Students who are self motivated, who have a pre-existing relationship or contacts, who are open to giving feedback to UMSI on this process, and who will participate in all other ASB program elements are ideal candidates to submit a student-initiated project .

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
University of Michigan School of Information
Office of Professional and Community Engagement
777 N. University Ave.
Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: 734-764-1865
Email: or

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter 2019 02/16/2019
Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications, please see Dates & Deadlines or contact the sponsoring office for more information.