As I pointed out in my recap of my tour of the Fisher Building in Detroit, one of the most rewarding and captivating aspects of going on tours in the Motor City has been interacting with and learning from people who have an infectious enthusiasm for the city. It was just a day or two after writing that piece that my editor reached out to ask me to write a feature on Challenge Detroit. I had heard of it nearly a year ago, but needed a refresher on the details.
In short, Challenge Detroit is a revitalization project, bringing a group of young Fellows from various backgrounds to live, work, play, and give in the Motor City. Now in the middle of its Year 2 Program, Challenge Detroit is playing a part in reversing the loss of young talent that the Motor City has experienced in recent years.
When I first navigated to the Challenge Detroit website, I was most curious to see who the selected Fellows were. I was not surprised to discover that they were a diverse group of smart individuals who shared the same type of enthusiasm for Detroit that I had so recently lauded in my tour guides.
These Fellows come from near (some even from Detroit) and far (some originally from overseas) to work in and for the Motor City, with the goal being that they will become invested in and intrigued by the city, and stay long after their program ends. The ultimate goal of Challenge Detroit is that this enthusiasm for the city will have a ripple effect as the Fellows share their work and perspective with others, and draw far more than just the Challenge Detroit Fellows to the Motor City.
Part of the immediate benefits of the program is that each month, the organization partners with a different local nonprofit to host challenges for the Fellows to participate in. For these challenges, the Fellows meet each Friday to come up with legitimate, enactable solutions to serious issues faced by the nonprofit. Year 2’s challenges thus far have included Community Arts and Multimodal Transportation, and in upcoming weeks, the Fellows will tackle Land Reutilization and Homelessness. Through these focused partnerships, the Challenge Detroit Fellows are able to make a positive impact on the diverse issues currently faced in the Motor City.
The Fellows also spend approximately four days a week working for companies in the city. These companies are highly similar to
Challenge Detroit in their focus on philanthropy and community development. The include such industry leaders as Team Detroit, Beaumont Health Systems, Chrysler, DTE Energy, Pure Michigan, the Detroit Lions, and numerous other nationally recognized organizations.
It isn’t just all work and no play, though. Each month, Challenge Detroit partners with local organizations to host social and cultural functions for the Fellows. Not only does this allow these hard working innovators to kick back amidst their busy schedules, it also provides an opportunity for the city of Detroit to shine. In a program with such a heavy emphasis on making a positive impact on the issues faced in the Motor City, it is just as important to allow the Fellows to experience the unique brand of fun that Detroit also offers.
Learn more about Challenge Detroit on their website, on their Facebook, and on their Twitter, and sign up to be in the know on all of the happenings in the upcoming Year 3 Program. You won’t want to miss being in on the action of the next generation of great innovators living, working, playing, and giving in the awesome city of Detroit.