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College and Career Pathways

Detroit Innovation Challenge Funds Ideas to Support Youth

Have an Idea to Support Youth of Color in Detroit?
Get it Funded through the $500,000 Innovation Challenge.

The Skillman Foundation and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement launched their second Detroit Innovation Challenge today, investing $500,000 in programs to improve life outcomes for youth of color in Detroit. Anyone can enter the challenge; applicants do not need to have an established program or organization.

Anise Hayes, a 2016-17 Innovation Challenge winner, used the experience to launch Our Town, a program that trains youth to guide city tours, helping them build public speaking skills as well as their historical knowledge of their hometown. Since becoming an awardee, Hayes has engaged 130 high school students in her program and attracted additional funding to her organization.

Hayes credits the Innovation Challenge’s focus on including young people in project development to the impact she’s been able to have. “We worked in collaboration with students to ensure we were connecting to relevant topics in their lives. College, career, and community: these were areas of great concern to our students, and they often lacked exposure to places in Detroit connected to these themes,” she said.

“The growth and impact shown by our first cohort has been extraordinary,” said Shawn Dove, CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. “There is no cavalry coming to save our communities. The leaders we’re waiting for are already here among us. I am so proud to support their development through CBMA and the Detroit Innovation Challenge.”

The Innovation Challenge is part of the Detroit My Brother’s Keeper and My Sister’s Keeper initiatives, which bring individuals and organizations together to inspire and cultivate programs that close the opportunity gaps faced by Black and brown youth.

“Detroit has a unique opportunity to become a model of an inclusive city, where all citizens are acknowledged as assets,” said Tonya Allen, president & CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “We must be intentional about including people along with economic recovery. We can’t leave it to chance, for the lucky few. We must invest in people, youth in particular, if our city and our country are to regain prosperity and influence.”

Ideas should be submitted online at by April 30, 2018.

Twenty ideas will be awarded $5,000 each and provided a suite of professional supports to develop pilot programs. Six top programs will then receive $50,000 each and continued coaching to support their full launch. Professional supports may include mentorship from established business/nonprofit leaders, invitation to the Campaign for Black Male Achievement Social Innovator Retreat, and pro-bono services such as graphic design, marketing, legal support and more.

More information about the MBK/MSK Detroit Innovation Challenge can be found at

Four information sessions will be held in mid-April; details will be posted on


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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