Become a champion for place-based learning


The Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS Coalition) is a broad and growing partnership of schools, educators and community leaders. The primary requirements for membership are active participation, collaborating with other members, and a commitment to transformative, place-based education.

Types of Membership

Individual Teachers and Teacher Teams

Individual teachers may join the SEMIS Coalition, but this doesn’t mean they fly solo.  Within the first couple of years of membership individual teachers should be prepared to collaborate with other teachers in their school or other SEMIS Coalition schools. To receive a partnership grant, teachers are required to partner with another teacher.

Although SEMIS Coalition staff will help when they can, individual teachers typically work with their school administration and carve out a space to do place-based work in their setting.  and to consistently attend the yearly SEMIS Coalition professional development series.

Teacher teams who join the SEMIS Coalition seek to create the school’s capacity to engage in place-based learning from the “ground up.” SEMIS Coalition staff work with teachers to communicate with school administration about SEMIS Coalition activities, goals, and benefits of participation.

Coalition School Membership

SEMIS Coalition Schools are schools that are using place-based learning as a framework for their school and as an approach to whole-school instructional change. Coalition Schools use this approach to help create coherence and continuity between their mission, practices, and state requirements.

Schools work with SEMIS Coalition staff to design a professional development program that aligns with specific school goals and systems, and that builds on the existing strengths of the school and its community. This program usually includes:

  • a custom designed, sustained and continuous series of in-service professional development programs
  • on-site and virtual support from SEMIS Coalition coaches
  • assistance in forming community partnerships
  • participation of a group of teachers and administrators in the SEMIS Coalition’s 9-day PD sequence
  • leadership coaching and support

Although teachers and schools experience many benefits of SEMIS Coalition participation in the first year, decades of research as well as our experience shows that the process of building school and teacher capacity takes a minimum of three years and that transformational change takes five years. There are two primary condition for Coalition School membership:

  1. School leadership and staff are committed to long-term and sustained growth using a place-based learning approach.
  2. Schools are committed to reciprocal and transformative partnerships.

How whole school programs are funded: Because custom school-based professional development and support of the kind and quality that the Coalition provides is resource intensive, the school/district and the Coalition share costs. Cost-sharing arrangements may change based on available resources and grants that the Coalition has received. Contracts are created each year at the time when schools are writing the school improvement plans, allocating funding and creating schedules for the following year.

Coalition Leadership Schools

SEMIS Coalition Leadership Schools have the capacity to engage in rigorous and sustained place-based learning and have been awarded Coalition Leadership School status. Students, teachers, and administrators continue their growth by leading others in the SEMIS Coalition. Coalition Leadership Schools are eligible for Leadership Grants from the SEMIS Coalition to support this work as well as action-research grants.

Community Partner Members

Community partners have a special role to play in SEMIS Coalition, helping both individual school projects get off the ground as well as supporting professional development days with expertise in everything from civic engagement and water quality to place-based history and community tours.

Partners can join SEMIS Coalition through a number of means, but primarily through connection to relevant place-based expertise needed by the coalition members.  Many long-term community partners started participating through Community Partner Grants with schools or through SEMIS Coalition staff outreach on behalf of partner schools.

Over the years, we’ve observed that those that are able to engage in transformational coalition building and the deepest partnerships with schools, do so by attending our yearly professional development series as learners.

“I view community with a new set of eyes. My students have become more aware of their community through SEMIS Coalition partnerships.”

June A. Clora

Teacher, Neinas Elementary

4 steps to school memberships

Schools and SEMIS Coalition staff work together to assess the readiness of the school to be a SEMIS Coalition School.

School and SEMIS Coalition staff “map-backwards” from 3-year goals and develop an outline of a professional development and school support plan.

The SEMIS Coalition is introduced and the plan is presented to the school’s School Board (or other equivalent governance body).

Relevant community partners are contacted as school projects start to take shape with SEMIS Coalition network and knowledge of expert community-based organizations.

Take the first step to becoming a member/partner