Memo of Collaboration

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Service-learning at Michigan State University (MSU) is a unique form of engaged learning and outreach, focused on civic engagement, in which students serve with non-profit organizations, health and human service agencies, and educational, government and other publicly-funded institutions to help meet needs and/or address issues that have been identified by the communities in which the students are involved.

The Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement (CSLCE) categorizes service opportunities according to students’ areas of interest and/or fields of study: Community/Business (non-profit) Administration, Communications, Pre-K – 12 Education, Special Education/Populations, Youth Mentoring, Engineering and Construction, Community Nutrition, Hospital, and Health Services, Government/Legislative Issues, Mental Health, Human and Senior Services, Recreation Leadership, Pre-Vet Medicine, Museums and Cultural Arts, and Science and Environmental Issues.

Some CSLCE programs are directly administered by registered student organizations: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, Into the Streets, and Alternative Spring Break. The Community Projects category is designed for one time, short term and/or group events. Overviews of these categories and additional can be found on the CSLCE website,

A CSLCE Position Description form is available for use by agencies/organizations to describe the nature of the organization and its needs, and to articulate the specific request for and the responsibilities of the service-learning student(s) being requested. Completion of the Position Description form by the agency/organization is required, and the completed form serves as the written agreement for the utilization of service-learning students. A sample accompanies this memorandum. It can be replicated as needed.

By submitting the Position Description form to the CSLCE as the request for service-learning students,


  • Provide a viable experience for the MSU student(s) that is mutually beneficial for the student(s) and the agency/organization making the request.
  • Not utilize service-learning students/volunteers referred by the CSLCE to replace previously paid staff. (This action is prohibited by the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1975.)
  • Act affirmatively in providing equal opportunities; not discriminating on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, mental or physical disabilities within the limits of the agency’s mission.
  • Limit clerical tasks to 20% or less.
  • Not utilize students for direct solicitation.
  • Cover MSU service-learning students under the liability coverage for volunteers, staff and/or visitors as applies to the situation.
  • Accept sole responsibility for volunteers and their actions once they are referred to the agency, and hereby waive and release Michigan State University from liability, claims or cause of actions.
  • Respond to students within 48 hours after initial contact, and communicate with students and MSU staff (as requested) in the referral, assignment, and completion process. Keep CSLCE staff advisors informed of any changes within your organization.
  • Provide students with orientation and site-specific training related to the position.
  • Provide students with on-site supervision by agency/organization staff. It is imperative that MSU students engage with clients only when agency/organization staff is on the premises.
  • Provide, for the purposes of indemnification, the CSLCE with the names of any/all MSU students serving at the agency/organization, whether or not the students were referred directly by the CSLCE.


  • Provide campus publicity and recruitment for the agency/organization request outlined in the Position Description.
  • Provide students with information about the nature of the organization/agency, service position posting(s), and keep students informed of related openings and closings.
  • Review student’s interests, time and logistical needs and refer students to appropriate sites.
  • Pre-screen/interview students as requested by the agency/organization.
  • Provide background checks via the Michigan State Police System if required by the agency/organization.
  • Cover service-learning students under the university’s indemnification policy.
  • Assist with orientations where applicable. (This assistance generally occurs where there are multiple students serving at the same site or within the same system, e.g., hospitals, school districts.)
  • Monitor activity of service-learning students and consult with student and agency staff, providing support/intervention as needed.
  • Record the dates/semesters of service performed by the individual student. (Agency assistance is critical in verifying this information!) Individual, official Records of Service will be provided to students upon request.
  • In partnership with Olin Health Center, provide MSU students with free T.B. skin tests (if required).

Through the generosity of the Capital Area Transit Authority, and, where applicable to the location of the service site, provide bus tokens for travel to/from the agency/organization.

Awards and Recognition

In recognition of the service and engagement of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners, Michigan State University was awarded the following prestigious awards in 2014

U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Logo

2014 U.S. President's "Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll (with Distinction)"

Carnegie Foundation Logo

2014 Carnegie Foundation "Elective Community Engagement" Classification

Michigan Campus Compact Logo

2014 Michigan Campus Compact "Engaged Campus of the Year"