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College and Career Pathways

Expo Highlights the Perspectives of Young Men of Color & Grassroots Programs Helping them Thrive

In Their Words, a photo exhibition and interactive installation in downtown Detroit offers a glimpse into the lives of several local young men of color and introduce four grassroots organizations that are creating pathways to support these young people’s talents and aspirations. The expo is the capstone event of the My Brother’s Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge, a $500,000 competition organized by the Skillman Foundation and Campaign for Black Male Achievement to lift up the best ideas for expanding opportunity for black and brown young men in Detroit. Nearly 500 ideas were submitted, with the top 20 receiving $5,000 to test their ideas in the community. Ultimately, six finalists were awarded $50,000 each and a suite of professional supports to launch and scale their programs. The expo is the final stage in the process where teams share their work and impact with the community through interactive installations.

“The challenges facing young men of color in Detroit cannot be solved overnight, but the commitment and sense of urgency shown by the organizations featured in this expo demonstrate the impact this type of work can have,” said Skillman Foundation President & CEO Tonya Allen.  

The four teams featured in the Capstone Expo are:

Culture Creators: Helps young men become leaders, community builders, and independent artists by merging arts, activism, and entrepreneurship.

Developing Despite Distance: Focuses on social and emotional learning and assists young men to express complex emotions and connect with their incarcerated parents.

Journi: Addresses the lack of opportunities for Detroit youth to develop tech and entrepreneurial skills through a culturally competent curriculum and by pairing participating youth with industry mentors.

Our Town: Trains young men to lead neighborhood and city tours designed and led by youth from Detroit’s east side.

“Black men are important members of our local and national communities. It is important that we fuel their dreams and aspirations in order to help them reach their full potential,” said Shawn Dove, president of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. “When they succeed, we all succeed.”

Another component of the expo is a photo exhibition by local photographer Justin Milhouse that highlights several of the organizations’ young participants. Accompanied by quotes from the youth, the exhibition provides a glimpse into what it is like to grow up as a young man of color in Detroit.

“There is no question that young men of color face a variety of challenges, especially in Detroit,” said Skillman Foundation Senior Program Officer Robert Thornton. “My Brother’s Keeper Detroit and this exhibition represent a continued commitment to the growth and development of our young black and brown boys and the organizations that support them.”

In Their Words is located at 660 Woodward Avenue in the First National Building in downtown Detroit. The expo runs from September 25 to October 7, Monday-Friday from 11am-6pm and Saturdays from 11am-4pm. The exhibit is open to the public and there is no cost to visit.

For more information on the teams featured in the expo and the MBK Detroit Innovation Challenge, visit


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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