21 Innovative Ideas to Empower Detroit Youth Cultivated through MBK Detroit Innovation Challenge

Twenty-one new ideas to support youth of color in Detroit are being prototyped with the support of $5,000 each in seed funding and informational workshops provided through the My Brother’s Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge. Six ideas will be selected at a community expo in January 2019 to receive an additional $50,000 each and continued professional development to support their establishment and growth as a program serving Detroit kids.

The 21 semi-finalists were selected from nearly 650 applications to the My Brother’s Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge, a $500,000 initiative supported by The Skillman Foundation, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, JP Morgan Chase, and Ford Motor Company Fund. Selections were made by a group of 30 judges, including previous Challenge awardees and Detroit youth.

“Detroit is rich with creativity and talent. You can see it everywhere, especially in our young people,” said Tonya Allen, president & CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “The MBK Challenge is a way to encourage and support innovative ideas that support our city’s boys and girls of color.”

Semi-finalists are currently engaged in an 8-week prototyping phase where they will develop, test and strengthen their ideas to ensure feasibility and impact. Workshops and training sessions in this phase are focused on design thinking, technical assistance and financial management skills.

“Being a part of the Challenge is a huge opportunity for our organization,” said Kelly Freeman, co-organizer of Because She’s A Lady. “So far, the process has allowed us to think deeply about our mission and get creative with the ways we can make an impact.”

The prototyping period will conclude with a public pitch competition in February where six teams will be awarded $50,000 each to launch their program.

The 21 innovated ideas being cultivated are:

Developing Black Male EducatorsDeveloping Strong Black Male Educators in Detroit

Empowering black male educators with the tools, methods and strategies to redesign teaching and learning in their urban classrooms and schools in order to better engage African American youth for success on their educational journey


My Sister's Keeper MentoringMy Sister’s Keeper Mentoring & Outreach

A structured, curriculum-driven weekly afterschool program that utilizes a “reach forward, give back” approach to relationship building among women of all ages


Girl Comma Wellness ToursGirl Comma Wellness Tours

Wellness tours that provide high school-aged girls with the opportunity to engage and learn from wellness experts and entrepreneurs through interactive workshops and summit-like sessions held at in school


Permaculture Princess

Permaculture Princess

Teaches permaculture and entrepreneurial skills to young women of color through the creation of a community farm



Leaders Among LeadersLeaders Amongst Leaders

Connects young creatives with the skills, resources, and opportunities necessary to pursue their passions and build their professional network



The YBMen Project

A platform through which boys and young men of color can enrich their mental health, transform gender norms, and engage in social support



I Dream of Characters that Look Like Me (Genius Patch)I Dream of Characters that Look Like Me (Genius Patch)

A creative story writing initiative for students of color in grades 3-8. Children work in a collaborative setting with published children’s authors and their peers to produce stories with main characters of color that represent themselves in imaginative ways.


A Seat at My Sister’s Table

A symposium of empowerment that involves black women from all walks of life that provides healing, education, financial literacy and empowerment



Minority Driven Training for A Safer CommunityMinority Driven Training for A Safer Community

Training young men of color for gainful employment opportunities in the areas of drone technology, digital and media graphics, cybersecurity, ethical hacking, web design, coding and more


Cross Culture Immersion and Environmental Stewardship

Building connections between young people from Detroit and the Ojibwa tribes of Michigan through cross-cultural immersion trips focused on the        exchange of history, culture and environmental stewardship practices


Because She's A LadyBecause She’s A Lady

Encouraging young ladies, ages 12-18, to live healthy and active lifestyles, aided by properly fitted and supportive bras



Ladies in TrainingLadies in Training

A mentorship program to influence the development of young girls ages 10 – 18 by empowering them to make appropriate lifestyle choices, building self-confidence and self-esteem, and encouraging them to become contributing members of the community


Reading Behind BarsReading Behind Bars

A virtual literacy program that uses video technology to allow incarcerated parents the ability to read with their child



Good Brothas

Good Brothas

Providing young black men in Detroit with a deeper understanding of racial inequities, empowering them with tools and knowledge to make progress on issues of race in their communities and beyond


The Lab Drawer

The Lab Drawer

Equipping Detroit students with STEAM learning resources to help supplement opportunities that may not be available in school



BEE The ChangeBEE the Change

Introducing beekeeping to youth through art, music and photography; educating youth on the importance of environmental sustainability and equipping them to “bee” change agents in their communities


The de'FACTION Project

The de’FACTION Project

A community center offering art, culture, and educational classes for youth and adults on Detroit’s east side



Detroit Goes Global

Detroit Goes Global

Developing the world’s next generation of leaders through mentorship, cultural exchange, and international travel experiences



The BraMobile

Helping girls feel comfortable and encouraging them to love and nourish their bodies through physical activity with proper breast support



The AFROFUTURES! Music Design ProjectThe AFROFUTURES! Music Design Project

A series of music, culture and design workshops for Detroit youth that will cultivate design thinking, leadership skills, and pride in the city. The project will culminate with the youth designing and activating an ephemeral cultural marker, debuting in Detroit’s Northend neighborhood


The Phoenix Center: Asset Based Resource Center The Phoenix Center: Asset Based Resource Center

A safe haven for homeless youth, ages 13-24, providing basic drop in services – such as food, laundry, clothing, personal care items, lockers, rest and other programming to empower them with the resources to actualize their potential and live out their dreams.


Stay tuned to MBKDetroit.org and the Skillman Foundation’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for more updates on the teams as they continue their journeys toward pitch day!

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  • I love all of the initiatives but I was specifically looking for access to contacts for the Minority Driven Training for A Safer Community, Leaders Among Leaders and Ladies in Training programs. I would greatly appreciate it.

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