Education, Equity

Two Detroiters to Watch in Youth Development Work

I want to share my joy! In anticipation of the great things to come in 2016, I’d like to celebrate and encourage our grassroots organizations in the city of Detroit.

As the chief administrator at Don Bosco Hall, I have the great honor of leading the work of the Youth Development Alliance in the Brightmoor, Cody Rouge, Northend/Central and Osborn neighborhoods with an awesome team. For the past five years, the Youth Development Initiative (YDI), a neighborhood collaborative of the Youth Development Alliance at Don Bosco Hall, has convened youth-serving organizations to grow quality services for youth in four Detroit neighborhoods. The organizations meet on a monthly basis to discuss needs and challenges, review data, and share best practices and resources. As 2015 drew to a close, the YDI conducted a panel interview with four funding applicants. I’m happy to say that all four applicants were approved for funding, but two especially struck me and I feel compelled to share their stories.

Tony Blue of the Detroit Sharks American Youth Football team in Osborn and Ebony Frost of New Growth Cosmetology in Cody Rouge have been members of the YDI for over three years. When envisioning grassroots programs started by individuals that are passionate and committed to helping children, Tony and Ebony are true examples. I was almost in tears to see them present their projects before the community review panel, explaining expected outcomes, and how they sustained their program when funding wasn’t granted.

You see, Tony and Ebony had both been through the grant process before and were unsuccessful in securing funding. When I compare their ability to plan and present today versus three years ago, I am filled with excitement and pride. I applaud Tony and Ebony because they have taken advantage of every opportunity to attend professional development and training sessions. And while they’ve been learning, they’ve also been acting, using their own funds to provide youth with educational activities in a safe and supportive environment.

Ebony Frost & Tony Blue

Ebony Frost & Tony Blue

Through their support, kids have gotten farther down the path toward high school graduation and have even developed their own mentoring relationships with younger participants. Tony and Ebony have worked tirelessly as learners, facilitators, mentors and secondary parents. Seeing their hard work pay off reminds me of why I LOVE my job!

I can’t wait to see the Detroit Sharks and New Growth Cosmetology programs flourish and impact the lives of many more Detroit youth.

Kim Newberry is chief administrator of Don Bosco Hall, a private non-profit agency that provides supportive human services to enhance the quality of life for youth,and their families residing in the metropolitan Detroit-Wayne County community.

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