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Community-Based Initiative Program

Community Scholars:
Community-Based Initiative in Detroit

The Community Scholars program engages students with a specialized interest in community change work. Community Scholars follow one of two tracks: Community-Based Initiative (specialized focus on community change in Detroit) or National Community Scholars (specialized focus in national community change placements). Students are welcome to express an interest in both tracks; however, it is only possible to be accepted into one track.

As one of our Community Scholars Programs, the purpose of the Community-Based Initiative (CBI) in Detroit is to train and support a new generation of social workers dedicated to community and social change in urban cities, neighborhoods, and communities. This is done through coursework and field placements based in Detroit and surrounding areas including Highland Park, Hamtramck, and Dearborn. Upon graduation, CBI scholars work as community organizers, policymakers, program planners, organization managers and administrators, evaluators, and foundation staff within Michigan, the US, and internationally.

Up to 12 incoming students who are genuinely committed to community-based work in urban areas will be selected for the CBI program.

Community-Based Initiative in Detroit Funding

  • $6,000 per term (3 terms for 12-month / 4 terms for 16-month students)

Specialized CBI Courses

CBI Scholars complete the following specialized coursework:

Taught in Ann Arbor:

  • Introduction to Social Work (Fall Term I)

Scholars will be directed to a specific section of this course.

Taught in Detroit:

  • Theories and Practices of Community Change (Winter term)
  • Skills and Strategies for Community Change (Winter term)

Special Fieldwork Placements

The Community-Based Initiative in Detroit offers opportunities for innovative practice in community-based field agencies. Field placements must be completed at a designated agency in the Detroit area including Highland Park, Hamtramck, and Middle-Eastern communities of East Dearborn. Note: students must have their own transportation to and from their field placement site(s). 

Program Requirements

  • Enrollment in Detroit-based sections of 1) Theories and Practices of Community Change and 2) Skills and Strategies for Community Change.
  • Completion of program requirements for the Community Change pathway.

  • Completion of specialized Introduction to Social Work course.

  • Completion of CBI field work in a designated agency in the Detroit area.

  • Enrollment in the full-time on-campus 16-month or 12-month (Advanced Standing, UM-Dearborn Human Services & SW, or UM Sociology & SW) or MasterTrack curriculum schedule.

  • Due to course and field requirements for the CBI Program, MSW/MPH students are not eligible to participate in this program.


  • All potential On Campus MSW students who are interested in community-based work in urban settings are invited to apply. CBI participants must be enrolled in the full-time on-campus 16-month, 12-month (Advanced Standing, UM-Dearborn Human Services & SW, or UM Sociology & SW) or MasterTrack MSW curriculum and select the Community Change pathway.
  • Application deadlines: December 1, 2023 (early application), February 1, 2024 (priority), March 1, 2024. Selection of applicants will be made from all dates with priority given to those applicants that meet the December and February deadlines.
  • Deferred admits planning to enroll in fall 2024 must submit their special program application by November 1, 2023.
  • Financial need will be considered in the review of special program applications.
  • Your MSW application must be complete by the scholarship deadline.
  • If you would like to apply to CBI, then please answer “yes” to the question, “Do you plan to apply to an SSW Special Program?” found on the Financial Assistance page of the MSW  application and then select the Community Scholars checkbox. The Community Scholars application page will be added to the end of your MSW application. On the Community Scholars application page, you must choose a track selection: Community-Based Initiative (CBI) National Community Scholars (NCS) or Interested in Either CBI or NCS.
  • Be sure to include your name and “Community Scholars Statement” in the upper corner of your statement before you upload it to your application.
  • Note that it will be more likely to be offered CBI if you select the Community Change pathway on your MSW application.

For more information about the Community-Based Initiative in Detroit, contact the Office of Student Services and Enrollment Management at (734) 936-0961 or [email protected].

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