Team Zero Waste


Our group successfully developed an action plan to increase awareness of waste and consumption through a university-wide zero waste challenge. The invitations to our challenge were well received and enough people participated to the point where we reached our maximum capacity for gift handouts. We were granted a BLI small grant to order custom water bottles as both an incentive and a reward for participants. We had at least 34 daily survey responses out of the 40 participants and we were able to analyze this data to determine whether the challenge was impacting their lifestyles. Although there wasn’t any discernable trend in consumption over the course of a week, we’re hopeful and confident participants were conscious of their waste since the consumption numbers were very low, to begin with.

There are four leadership habits that were key aspects of how our team worked well together. The first is “Start Small.” We knew we wanted to create real change in these short seven weeks in regards to waste management on campus, so we chose to do a project that was realistic. The second leadership habit is “Engage the World.” We reached out to several different environmentally minded organizations and tried to gain as many participants as possible for our competition. Having the most possible people involved was hugely important to how we were measuring the success of our project. The third leadership habit is “Expect Challenges.” We were able to effectively plan our project around the idea of welcoming challenge but avoiding issues too difficult for us to handle in the short span of the project. The fourth leadership habit is “Work to Learn.” Our work was a learning experience in both the process and the results. By using surveys to facilitate our event, we collected a lot of data about student waste habits.

Throughout the semester, our team faced a variety of challenges. One of the challenges we faced was an issue with communication. First, we had some difficulty recruiting participants for the event after trying a variety of marketing methods. We designed, printed, and posted flyers, but found that they were not successful in recruiting participants as we received zero emails to our group email. We answered to the lack of response by creating a Facebook event, which was how we garnered much of our attention. Our issues with communication continued when we started the challenge, as many of our surveys were having issues and our emails were sending multiple times. As a result, we sent out apology emails and started communicating mostly through a texting notification application.

Our group dynamic throughout the process of our project has maintained relatively strong. We have met consistently every week to ensure our deliverables were prepared to be turned in and that our progress was on track. When we first began the project, we all had many valuable ideas to contribute, it was difficult to agree on the specifics. However, once we managed to agree on how to conduct our challenge, decisions were easier to make. Our common passion for sustainability and similar end goals allowed us to come up with a broad idea for our project. Yet, we struggled on deciding what specifics our surveys and emails should include. However, after much discussion and feedback from our peers, we were able to deliver an optimized product within the limited timespan.

Although there was no significant or apparent trend from the quantitative data that we gathered, which included the instances of recycling, the number of paper towel use, the number of times ordering takeout, etc. We believe that we have gathered very useful data to supplement future or ongoing sustainability programs and projects. From the analysis of our data, a movement towards individual zero-waste is almost impossible. Instead, there should be more work going on in the background that forces people to become more aware and do certain things that move towards zero-waste, like getting rid of paper towels completely in bathrooms. We believe our project was successful due to the high turnout of participants and high retention rate of participants throughout the course of last week. We’ve seen and encountered some flaws in the process of our execution plan, but due to the time constraint and workload, it was inevitable. The outcome isn’t exactly what we hoped, but overall, we are really satisfied with the turnout and amount of data we were able to capture.

  •  Julia Atayde, Orion Cleaver, Kevin Liu, Rachel Levine, and David Talbot

Victors Volunteer – Helpful Humans of Michigan

The goal of Victors Volunteer is to spread awareness of the volunteer communities on and around campus, as well as spread awareness of the positive impacts helping others has had on our Michigan peers. We choose to take a ‘Humans of New York’ approach by sharing a personal volunteer-related story and photo on multiple (Facebook, Instagram, and a Wix Blog) social media platforms. By sharing personal volunteer experiences, our social media platforms act as a resource of where and why to get involved.

In the twelve days that we posted to our social media, we reached over 2,000 people in page and post views. We surpassed our original goal!

As a secondary tactic to reach a broader audience, we planned a celebratory and networking event. With a generous grant from Barger Leadership Institute, we were successfully able to host a volunteer celebration and collaboration. As a thank you to the thirty interviewees, we invited them to the LSA opportunity hub for pizza, salad, and refreshments. They were encouraged to bring their friends or invite others interested in, or already in another service community.

Although our event ran smoothly, we faced an expected challenge – turnout.

Our event was small (15 including ourselves) however, we enjoyed a few hours of sharing volunteer stories, discussing our favorite places to volunteer, and making recommendations for which student organizations on campus would be interesting for an individual based on their interests. We had a few people come who had not been interviewed, but saw our posts on Facebook, and wanted to know more about our project, or a specific organization that was written about on our page. We considered this another small success because we were engaging a broader audience and inspiring more to get involved.

Our group is thankful for the opportunity the Barger Leadership Institute awarded us and plan to continue sharing volunteer stories of the Helpful Humans of Michigan.

  • Megan Gargaro, Allie Mangus, Scott Rola, Daria Hurley, and Danielle Tondreau

Global Health Symposium – presented by Timmy Global Health & MHEAL

The Global Health Symposium is an annual lecture-based symposium hosted by M-HEAL andGlobal Health Symposium pic 1 Timmy Global Health to promote active learning and engagement in global health efforts in the university community.  With generous grants from BLI and other organizations, we were able to successfully carry out our event.  This year, 124 students from various majors were able to listen to three keynote speakers: one from the School of Public Health, one from the University of Michigan Health System, and one from NSF International.  Between the second and third speaker we had a lunch break where we provided refreshments and lunch from Cottage Inn Pizza. Afterward, attendees were encouraged to further discuss and network with the speakers and their colleagues toglobal health symposium pic 3 gain greater knowledge and insight into their talks.  

After our event, we administered an online survey to help us evaluate our success.  Some of the responses we received related to having preparation from the speakers and having more speaker – audience activities. Many of the attendees enjoyed the diversity of the speakers.  These responses were very helpful and we hope to use them for future references.

Although our event ran relatively smoothly, we faced the same challenges we seem to run into each year.  One of the major setbacks of our event will always be getting a lot of attendance. Although 124 is not bad, we were hoping we could get 200 attendees. Another setback was not having enough members attend from our respective organizations.  We learned that as leaders of our organizations, we must be more authoritative and encourage more committed members to come to our events.  If we cannot assure our own members to attend, we cannot assure others to do the same.  We hope as leaders to continue to communicate with our members and possibly gGlobal Health Symposium pic 2et them more involved and engaged with planning the event.  

The event is open to all students and faculty at University of Michigan, and we hope to expand our audience.  For next year, we hope to focus more on marketing/advertising and finding new ways to reach out to a wider audience.

Overall, the attendees enjoyed our speakers, food, and learned something new, so the event was a success!  On behalf of Timmy Global Health and MHEAL, we thank you for awarding us this grant and making it possible to educate and further spread awareness for global health. 

Standing Rock Solidarity Zine Release Event

This fall semester, I had the great privilege to work with a group of independently organized students to show solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Though our project originally formed through the Graham Sustainability Institute’s undergraduate scholars program’s interdisciplinary courses, our team grew to incorporate a larger group of students from different backgrounds interested in raising awareness on UM’s campus about indigenous struggles and environmental injustices. Inspired by the No Dakota Access Pipeline Movement (#NODAPL) started by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, we wrote a zine publication about the effort to stop the construction of a fracking oil pipeline on the tribe’s sacred land in order to protect clean water access, cultural artifacts and ancient burial grounds. In the zine, we highlight the history of indigenous resistance to colonialism and environmental destruction, background on the movement, the timeline of events surrounding the DAPL, and ways for those in Ann Arbor to take action against the construction of the pipeline. When beginning our organizing against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at UM, we felt as though there weren’t many accessible resources for students and the broader UM and Ann Arbor communities to learn about the struggle at Standing Rock; therefore, we decided that collaboratively writing a zine on the issue was the most effective way to spread awareness on our campus as zines are easy to distribute and generally free of charge (to download a copy of our zine, visit our website.)

As recipients of the Barger Leadership Institute small grant award, our group held a zine release event to distribute our zines, fundraise money for the Standing Rock camps and water protectors, and showcase interviews that were collected at Standing Rock during our group’s fall break trip to the occupation. One of our main objectives at this event was to raise indigenous voices as this movement is only one piece in a longer, ongoing struggle for indigenous justice and, therefore, indigenous voices should be at the forefront of these movements. To do this, we had listening stations of the interviews collected at the Standing Rock camps to provide authentic voices from the movement at our event. Also, members of a group of indigenous drummers and singers called the Swamp Singers  performed and shared the cultural importance of the No DAPL movement with attendees. Additionally, we created buttons, stamps, and patches with messages to support Standing Rock, access to clean water, and indigenous resistance. All of these items, along with our zines, were available on a donate as you’re able basis. Ultimately, we raised about $850 at our event, all of which was sent to the occupation. Through this event, we discovered how many people are interested in learning more about indigenous and environmental justice. Community members, parents, friends, and students from all over the university came to our event and picked up a zine, listened to the interviews, and engaged in conversations about the struggle at Standing Rock. It was also beautiful to see community members and students participating in intergenerational exchanges of knowledge through conversation; I was grateful that we provided a space for folks of different ages and backgrounds to teach and learn from one another about organizing and the ongoing struggle towards justice.

Although our event went well and we learned a lot about the logistics of putting the zine release together, we recognize that our organizing doesn’t stop here; rather, this event can be viewed as a jumping off point for more organizing around environmental and indigenous justice in our region. We plan to continue distributing our zines around campus and Ann Arbor and we’ve also created a website to share our zine, videos and interviews. We are still selling our merchandise from the zine release event and sending all funds to the Standing Rock occupation because the struggle still continues today – despite the denial of DAPL’s permit to drill, Energy Transfer Partners has announced they will ignore the order and continue drilling. We have held phone banking events to demand that all felony charges against the water protectors are dropped immediately and we plan to do more phone banking in the future. Lastly, we’ve discussed organizing against Line 5, another oil pipeline that runs under the straits of Mackinac in Michigan. Our group will be regrouping in January once the winter term begins and we will outline what we hope to accomplish for the upcoming semester.

We are so gStanding Rock Zine Eventrateful to the BLI for funding our zine release event and the printing of our zines! Without the resources provided by Barger, we couldn’t have held our event and raised the funds we sent to the occupation at Standing Rock. For more information on the work we are doing or to purchase merchandise, email and visit our website at



The Community Coalition — Ann Arbor, Michigan



As the community coalition, our mission was to create genuine, positive connections among our peers at the University . We planned to do this by bringing students together for small, informal gatherings that would allow them to connect with one another through intentional dialogue. So that’s what we did: we hosted an event where we ate yummy foods, played games, and talked about things that really matter to us. We booked a room, ordered food, wrote up a game plan, and each brought our own energy to the space, all as a way of helping and encouraging students to engage with one another in an authentic way.


However, even though we started out with a common goal (to advocate for diversity and inclusion at the university), we each had different visions for approaching the common goal. Initially, a few members of our team believed it would be better to invite a larger group of students in order to bring awareness. However, after a long conversation about our desired impact, we decided to have a much smaller event where we could ensure that each person involved had an opportunity to actively communicate and share their experiences here at the university.


Additionally, many members of our group were nervous that our event would be misinterpreted or forgotten about in the wake of the election. However, the event itself went better than any of us expected, and everyone seemed to be comfortable sharing, listening, and learning from one another. One our favorite pieces of feedback from the event was: “I felt like I was in a position of learning, which seldom happens to me anymore.” We were beyond excited to see real connections forming and people learning from each other in such an intentional space.


Although this was merely the first step, in the future, we hope to create even more opportunities for intentional dialogue between students at the university as a means to build a more connected campus and world.


Pizza and Politics


Over 70 students gathered in Mason Hall on the night of Tuesday, November 8 for Pizza and Politics, an event hosted by the Public Activities Committee of LSA Student Government and made possible by grants from the Barger Leadership Institute, the Department of Statistics, and the Department of Political Science.

file_006This was a particularly long and trying election season for many, especially for most students – who were having their first chance to vote in a presidential election. A long and vitriolic campaign was a source of frustration and exhaustion, and we aimed to host this event with the goal of bringing closure to the over one-year election cycle, and also provide a space for students to think about becoming more politically engaged in the future. As we all know, civic engagement does not begin or end with a presidential vote. State and local governments are often just as influential in the daily lives of many citizens, and voting too is just one component of a healthy and productive democracy. We hoped to spark conversations and get to students to think about the policy future of this country and how they may be involved in it.

BLI funding made it possible for us to provide a convenient, fun, and nonpartisan space for University of Michigan students to watch the election results and enjoy some pizza. Folks started arriving file_005just before 8:00 pm and the room quickly began to fill up after that. At the peak, we were standing-room-only as can be seen in the pictures included. Students were discussing the results and making predictions, and the room would fluctuate from a roar of conversation to a hushed silence when a projection was being announced on TV.

It was clear that we achieved our goals for this event. Students really enjoyed the space that we created to take a break, have a slice (or three) of pizza, and watch the results. In a survey of 36 attendees, the average attendee rated the event a 4.42 on a 5 point scale. On the question of whether or not attendees felt inspired to be more politically engaged, the average response was 3.97 on a 5 point scale. Some of the qualitative feedback we got included “fun environment,” “loved it!” and “I like the idea of screening important political coverage because I do not have cable.” We also saw feedback that we might have gotten a bigger room and used closed captions on the results since the room was so full and loud. This was great to hear! We expected a solid turnout, but I was surprised to see the room fill up so quickly. We sincerely thank the Barger Leadership Institute and our Department sponsors for making this event possible.

OffMarket – Detroit, Michigan


After interning in the City of Detroit for the last two summers, I knew that I wanted to pursue an idea that allowed me to continue similar work in the City, the Barger Leadership Institute (BLI) Small Grant has allowed my group and I to do just this.


Our project, OffMarket, centered around building software that would scrape data off of the internet to identify distressed properties in the City of Detroit that may be attractive to either non-profit or for profit entities. Our hope is that these entities would then use the software to acquire and redevelop these distressed properties to increase positive property density in Detroit.


The experience BLI helped to facilitate effected my view of leadership by creating new ideas such as leadership is a multifaceted platform where there can be multiple leaders. For example, our project team consisted of two other University of Michigan students, we had to agree upon decisions and come to mutual agreements on how to successfully proceed. Through this open communication channel, we knew regardless of who made the end decision, we could always share our thoughts.


This is experience helped me grow as a leader in numerous ways. One of these ways was interacting with different stakeholders for our project. To progress on our project, we hired a Computer Science Engineer at UM. We had to diligently work with him during our weekly meetings. I was able to grow as a leader because I learned new ways to communicate successfully with people who were part of the project, and also effectively lead others to have a successful outcome.


Leadership and teamwork go hand in hand. It does not matter if there is one project leader and many participants, or the group has all project leaders, everyone must always work together. This was a common theme throughout our summer project. We constantly stressed teamwork. We did this by always having an open channel of communication to share any idea, creating a sense of community/teamwork for our contractor, and also understanding everyone’s responsibilities.


Our group is thankful for the opportunity the Barger Leadership Institute awarded us and plan to continue pursuing projects in the City of Detroit.

Take a Tampon Leave a Tampon – Ann Arbor, MI

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Project Goal: Our goal was to increase access to sanitary products on campus and provide all students who menstruate with security, dignity, and agency in caring for their reproductive health. It was brought to our attention through a Project Community the disparities communities face. Many students do not have the resources to afford these expensive items or they are of an identity that makes it uncomfortable to purchase them in the store. For these individuals there is currently no option being offered for assistance. Through our campaign we hoped to raise awareness about this major issue and break down the stigma that surrounds menstruation. We hoped to set the foundation for a self-sustaining tampon/pad receptacles located throughout women’s and gender inclusive bathrooms on campus in the form of “Take a Tampon, Leave a Tampon” boxes. This project also provided a toolkit for Planned Parenthood to give to other student groups across the state of Michigan to use at their respective schools as part of the Community Action Project of the students in Sociology 225 Section 304.

Methods of Implementation: This small grant allowed us to purchase sanitary products to make available in respective bathrooms in Lane Hall. We put baskets (See Figure 1.0) with which included different flow pads and tampons as well as pantiliners, in both the women’s bathroom and the gender inclusive bathrooms located on the first floor of Lane Hall. We had the hygiene baskets available for the remainder of the Winter semester of 2017 while monitoring the supply on a daily basis.

Expenses: We utilized $75.03 of our award to purchase sanitary products and a receipt was submitted to the Barger Leadership Institute to be reimbursed on March 24, 2016.

Results: The results were expected and unexpected. The expected being that our tabling and access of sanitary products raised awareness for this reproductive justice issue. The unexpected result was a lack of use of the products provided, which may be due to multiple variables. We were only granted access to place the products in two bathrooms in Lane Hall and we only had a two week time period to see the results of implementation. The BLI grant provided us with the opportunity to purchase sanitary products in bulk, so the unexpected left over products were then donated to Safe House in Ann Arbor as stated in our grant proposal.

Evaluation: All of the goals that were set were successfully met. We received this grant from the Barger Leadership Institute and created a toolkit for other organizations to start this project at their school.  We were able to increase access to sanitary products to people at the University of Michigan through our “Take a Tampon, Leave a Tampon” initiative in Lane Hall. At our tabling we were able to raise awareness for this reproductive justice issue. This toolkit included a timeline, a flyer for a pad and tampon drive, an improvement list, and a brief summary of our thought process and execution. We believe this toolkit is very explicit and any student organization could implement this program at their school. Aside from the concrete goals of raising awareness and access to hygiene products, we were able to achieve a goal of a successful team initiative.

Broader Implications: This BLI Small Grant was intended to stimulate learning about leadership through practice, encourage and support student initiative, and seed innovative projects that will contribute to the Institute, campus community, and/or society, and it did just that. This pilot program increased access to sanitary products and awareness about the impact menstruation has on a young student’s college career, which has yet to be done on the University of Michigan’s campus. Now that toolkit has been created and passed along to other organizations students and faculty, others will be able to address and promote awareness around a reproductive justice issue that is often be overlooked. This initiative could not have been as successful as it was without the Barger Leadership Institute,  Thank you very much.

WiLL Presents Leaders and Best of Ann Arbor – Ann Arbor, MI


Women in Leadership Lessons (WiLL) hosted their flagship panel event on leadership on Wednesday, April 6 which was open to students and faculty from Organizational Studies, Barger Leadership Institute, and the broader University of Michigan community. The panel, Leaders and Best of Ann Arbor, consisted of leaders from around Ann Arbor representing Zingerman’s, the Ann Arbor YMCA, and U-M’s Center for Positive Organizations. Panelists included: Suneeti Agrawal (MBA candidate in Ross School of Business and President of Michigan Business Women at Ross), C. J. Azubuine (MBA candidate at Ross School of Business), Abbey Davis (Teen and Volunteer Director at the Ann Arbor YMCA), Betsy Erwin (Education Lead at the Ross Center for Positive Organizations), and Jennifer Hayman (Marketing Director: Service Network at Zingerman’s).

Panelists represented a range of ages and life experiences and were able to share their unique insights on leadership from this broad range of experience. The panel included a set of moderated questions covering such topics as the difference between leading and managing, strategies in negotiation, and finding work-life balance in one’s career. The panel was followed by a Q&A with audience members which sparked more insight-filled discussion around topics such as navigating gender in the workplace.

This panel provided opportunities for learning for both WiLL members and members of the braoder University of Michigan community. Panelists shared a number of key insights such as the importance of being intentional about stepping up for things and always raise our hands for things as a way to set ourselves apart within our organization. They encouraged us to create supportive work environments for ourselves and others, advising that we be approachable and empower and support our colleagues whenever possible. Abbey Davis suggested that as leaders we see ourselves as mentors not just as managers and that we are fulfilling our role as leaders only if we are ensuring that the people we lead our developing through their contact with us. These panelists also provided valuable insights into current hot topics such as negotiations and work-life balance. Their advice for negotiating involved seeing a negotiation as an opportunity for advocacy. If humility or shyness makes advocating for yourself difficult, one recommendation was to imagine you are advocating for another person: objectively analyze and quantify your achievements, research the situation of people with comparable experience in your industry, and negotiate as if you were working on behalf of someone else. Their advice for work-life balance was to make time for what is necessary for you to find balance in your life. Suneeti Agrawal gave the example of a time when she coordinated her schedule with her boss to ensure she would have time to take a one hour yoga class during the week because she knew this was a necessary part of her life that would ensure she produced quality work the rest of the week. These insights on leadership were vastly helpful in preparing our audience (of mostly undergraduates) for life after college. Audience members came away wanting to learn even more from these panelists, asking whether next year’s panel could be longer and include even more direct audience questions with panelists. As we reflect on this panel, we will definitely make some changes about how we approach and lead situations. This panel put a strong emphasis on making sure that the people we lead are developed and supported. As we head into the workforce, we hope to engage with this challenge and to ensure that we a) find leaders who are intentional about ensuring we have opportunities for development and b) make sure that we, in turn, give back to the people we lead.

Alternative Break – Burton, TX

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Our group had the opportunity to volunteer at Camp For All (CFA), which is a camp in Burton, Texas for kids and adults with physical and mental disabilities. Throughout the 5 days that we spent at CFA, we learned both from each other and the campers.

The first few days of service, we worked on maintenance around the camp, because the campers weren’t coming until the 4th day. One of the key values of ASB is “no task is too small”, meaning that our purpose is to do anything that the site needs of us. As site leaders, we were super proud of our participants for upholding these values. We helped CFA get the cabins ready for the kids that were arriving later in the week.

The morning that the campers arrived, we greeted the kids and helped unload their luggage off of the buses. Over the next two days with the kids we were able to run carnival games, serve lunch and dinner, help at a bonfire and throw a dance. We were lucky to be given the chance to interact with such lively campers, all of whom enlightened us on the harm that the stigma on physical disabilities holds. The kids taught us that a physical disability does not impede one’s ability to accomplish tasks.

Our work at Camp For All helped us to see the harm that exists in limiting a child just because of a physical disability. We learned that there is no right way or wrong way to do something, but it is instead an alternative way.

The $200 that we were awarded through Barger went towards our petty cash fund. Over the course of the trip, we used petty cash in order to relieve some of the financial stress on our participants. For example, our budget given to us from the ASB Lead Team did not cover meals on the road. In turn, the BLI Small Grant gave us the ability to pay for some of the meals on the road. We were able to fully subsidize a group lunch at a B-B-Q joint in Texas. In addition, we had to make the majority of our own meals while we were at camp. This required us to buy a substantial amount of groceries, given that we had to make meals for a group of 13. Not only did the grant help us to buy these groceries, but also it provided the opportunity to bond over team meal making. As a group, we also fundraised an additional $300 in order to reach our maximum petty cash fund amount. Thank you so much for helping us monetarily. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for the BLI community in the future!

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