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Community Leaders Share Challenges Facing Girls and Young Women of Color in Detroit

Community leaders gathered at the Skillman Foundation to discuss issues impacting girls and young women of color in Detroit.

Despite the many achievements of girls and young women of color, challenges and disparities persist for Black and Latinx girls in Detroit.

To learn more about these challenges, the Foundation recently hosted a discussion with community leaders working on behalf of girls and young women of color in the city. Attendees discussed the key needs and critical levers required to improve the experiences and build opportunity for girls of color in Detroit.

Numerous impactful takeaways were gained from the discussion including one from Pam Lewis from the Community Foundation of South East Michigan in which she acknowledged that the challenge for girls of color to lead a healthy life and feel safe in and out of school are independent of socioeconomic status.

Participants also shared stories of girls who are homeless, experience depression, question their self-worth, have low self-esteem, lack confidence and long for a space to be heard. To help put this in perspective, a representative from Alternatives for Girls shared a few key statistics including:

  • In 2017, 2,900 children and families were homeless in Detroit
  • 49% of those were girls and 97% of them were African-American
  • Girls and young women of color face higher rates of HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and challenges at school like higher rates of suspension.

The conversation also raised the issue of a lack of community trust around sending girls out into the world and the barrier it creates for girls of color to access and participate in various activities. Aswan Almaktary, an advocacy specialist for ACCESS, shared that many parents in her program drop off their daughters hand and hand and expect to see her when they return to pick them up.

“For boys they go anywhere and do whatever they want but for the girls it takes many years to build that trust,” Almakatary shared.

In short, families are afraid for their girls. The fears of families are not without reason. Women of color experience particularly high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Where do we go from here?

These statistics are not meant to dishearten, but are meant to raise awareness and action on behalf of girls and young women of color. To learn more about the organizations mention in this blog and how you can get involved, visit their websites.

Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan

Enhances the quality of life in southeast Michigan by equipping local organizations and communities with the capital, assistance and training they need to make an impact.

Alternative For Girls

Helping homeless and high-risk girls and young women avoid violence, teen pregnancy and exploitation, and help them to explore and access the support, resources and opportunities necessary to be safe, to grow strong and to make positive choices in their lives.


The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services is the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the United States. With 11 locations and more than 120 programs serving metro Detroit, ACCESS offers a wide range of social, economic, health and educational services to a diverse population.

Are you an organizations that serves Detroit youth and want to share your story and impact? Share your story with us at

The Skillman Foundation

A voice for children since 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy that serves as a fierce champion of Detroit children. The Foundation works to ensure Detroit youth achieve their highest aspirations by strengthening K-12 public education, afterschool learning opportunities, and college and career pathways.

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