Introducing The Skillman Visionary Awards

11 Organizations Changing the Lives of Detroit Youth

Part one of a two-part blog. 10 additional youth development orgs celebrated here.

There is so much good going on in Detroit.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by statistics that tell us how far we have to go before all kids in Detroit feel safe, supported and valued. This knowledge is necessary and motivating. But so is knowing how much good is being done out of love and reverence for children.

This summer, we held our annual call for proposals to our Youth Development Fund. A team of evaluators assembled to read the submissions; we could feel the passion had for making real impact in the lives of our youth. We were overcome by the number of individuals and institutions who shared their vision for Detroit children with us, and are grateful to know that there are so many quality organizations that children and families can benefit from and depend on.

Narrowing down the applications was a real challenge, but I couldn’t be more excited about the work we’re able to support. Twenty-one organizations were selected to receive a total of $1.6 million. Each program will provide development and mentorship opportunities for the city youth to learn critical skills, readying them for college, career and life.

Listed below are 11 of the 21 grant recipients, whom we are privileged to call our partners. The other 10 are listed here.

11 orgs changing the lives of Detroit youth

Descriptions are limited to programming funded by the Skillman Foundation’s Youth Development Fund. For a complete list of services, please follow links to the organizations’ websites.

Clark Park Coalition

Programs include everything from sports to blogging and photo-journalism. Clark Park Coalition provides positive youth development opportunities and expands student literacy for middle and high school students in southwest Detroit.
YDF Grant Amount: $75,000

Playworks Education Energized

The name says it all. Playworks is a highly successful play-based curriculum program. We’re pleased to help fund Playworks at five Detroit schools, serving more than 1,800 elementary students.
YDF Grant Amount: $100,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit

CCS Art show 2015

Detroit student celebrated at CCS/Skillman Foundation exhibit

Provides mentoring services to help middle school-aged kids prepare for high school and adulthood. It connects students with fragile support networks to caring adults at a critical time in their development.
YDF Grant Amount: $75,000

College for Creative Studies 

College for Creative Studies runs a year-round comprehensive art and community engagement program serving high school students. Students are given the opportunity to explore art skills and career opportunities, an important factor in keeping youth engaged in school.
YDF Grant Amount: $75,000

Midnight Golf 

Uses the game of golf to promote and maintain academic achievement and college preparation! This year 250 participants will be recruited, with an emphasis on African American males.
YDF Grant Amount: $75,000

Southwest Detroit Business Association Inc.

Offers performing arts programming in Detroit public schools.
YDF Grant Amount: $50,000


Partners with local public libraries to offer after-school visual art classes to better prepare students for high school graduation, college, career and life.
YDF Grant Amount: $50,000

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan

Provides academic interventions and mentoring for at-risk youth. Helps students build positive relationships with adults to promote academic success, good character and a healthy lifestyle.
YDF Grant Amount: $75,000

Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation 

A workforce readiness program that trains youth and helps them find jobs upon completion of the program. The program includes 16 weeks of on-the-job training in the summer and eight weeks during the school year.
YDF Grant Amount: $75,000

Development Centers Inc.

Detroit Food Academy

Detroit Food Academy students Brenda and Brandy Harvey

Program services include youth development workshops on peer relations, conflict resolution, academic enrichment, leadership, goal setting, life skills, and college and career readiness. To deal with the difficult conditions in the neighborhoods inhabited by many Detroit youth, the program also offers weekly individual and group counseling sessions and monthly grief, loss and trauma support sessions.
YDF Grant Amount: $75,000

Detroit Food Academy

Detroit Food Academy provides an experiential culinary arts and entrepreneurship program for youth. The program exposes youth to the growing local food industry, allowing them to acquire skills in leadership, culinary arts, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and food business management.
YDF Grant Amount: $125,000

This list represents half of those exceptional organizations that have been awarded funding through our competitive Youth Development Fund process. Information about the remaining 10 awardees is here.

Comments (7)

Leave your Response
  • Janice Rountree -

    Are there any vocational training programs leading to employment out there for young adults 18-26?

    • NFotias

      Hi, Janice,

      Thank you for your question. There are several organizations working in that field across the city. You can learn about some of them on our Economic Well-Being page. Please reach out to us if you have any additional questions!

  • Reginald Gilbert

    I am desperately seeking a legitimate program for a out-of-control Black teenage male of 16 years old! I am willing to volunteer my time also.

  • Val Patterson

    Are there any robotic engineering programs, I have a 14 yr. old nephew who is interested in getting into that field.

  • Kim Travis Ewing

    I would like to forward information about a free teen conference at university of Detroit Mercy on Oct 28th. we have 100 slots for breakfast/lunch breakout workshops and community service certificates..

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