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Detroit youth writing contest: Why do you believe in Detroit?

Hundreds of Detroit residents were polled about their experiences living in neighborhoods at two community meetings in recent weeks.

The questions centered on topics like education and safety — two of the Foundation’s program areas.

Among the questions was one that had me anxious: it asked whether people believe the city and its neighborhoods are becoming better places for kids.

Young people from Cody Rouge share their views of neighborhood improvements at a recent community meeting.

After the Foundation has worked for eight years and spent tens of millions in these neighborhoods, it would be demoralizing if people don’t feel hopeful, don’t sense that things are improving. The Foundation has collected reams of data that shows progress is indeed the reality – from rising graduation rates to drops in crime rates. But those statistics matter little if the people who live in these places aren’t perceiving the positive changes.

But, sigh of relief. The answers were positive. In both cases, most people in the room answered that they believe the city would be better – or much better – in five years.

Hope. People have it. That’s a great thing.

We’ll share more details about those responses in our upcoming annual report. We also want to share the perspectives from a few young people about what they see for the city’s future. We have a prompt below and are asking young people to respond to it with a piece of creative writing.

Three pieces will be published in the report. So please share with budding writers and young people with a vision for the next Detroit. We can’t wait to read what they have to say.

PROMPT: Are you optimistic about Detroit’s future? Will it be a better place to live in five years? Ten? Will the city be a good place for young people? Why?

How to enter: Respond to these question with a piece of original creative writing, an essay or a poem. Three responses will be selected to be published in our annual report. Each author selected for publication will receive $250.

Pieces must be 700 words or fewer. Eligible students must reside in one of the six Skillman-targeted neighborhoods, or attend a school or young development program in one of those neighborhoods. Youth ages 11 to 18 can participate.

Send completed pieces as .docx files to by 5 p.m. on Oct. 25. Put “I Believe in Detroit” in the subject line. Include name, email address, contact phone number, age, school and address in the email. Featured authors will be announced Nov. 1.

Files not selected for publication in the print edition could be used in the digital edition. All authors will be credited.

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