Introducing The Skillman Visionary Awards
Organizational Learning

Insights from our President’s Youth Council

Artwork by Miranda Kyle

On November 3, 2021, The Skillman Foundation’s President & CEO, Angelique Power, launched a yearlong listening tour by holding her first listening session with the Foundation’s President’s Youth Council. The purpose of the listening tour is to understand the most pressing needs of Detroit kids, the unique landscape of Detroit, and to learn how philanthropy and specifically The Skillman Foundation can rise to meet this unique moment in history.

This was the Council’s fourth meeting since it was formed in December 2020. In previous meetings, the Council has discussed various topics of importance to them including learning, coping, and being productive during the pandemic; quality of education in Detroit; mental health; and racial justice.

During the listening session in November, the Council began by answering the question, “If you could give Detroit more of one thing, what would it be?” They shared a range of ideas, including the following:

  • More visibility on the world stage
  • Better distribution of power and a seat at the table for more people
  • More locally owned businesses
  • More job opportunities
  • Better learning and education opportunities
  • More recreational centers and inspiring spaces for youth to be outside of school
  • Library upgrades
  • Mentoring
  • More shelters for youth without stable housing  

Throughout the meeting, Council members shared their perspectives on what’s working—and what’s not—for young people in Detroit. More than one Council member highlighted the importance of efforts that have been started by young people to aid their peers with accessing resources to get into and remain in college. Another council member shared how much they value organizations that engage youth in environmental stewardship.  One member lamented the lack of classes in school that teach life skills like financial management, tax preparation, applying for loans, and starting a business. It was also remarked that while school might help prepare youth to go to college it doesn’t help them develop life skills such as cooking, changing a tire, etc. Another Council member added that there is a good amount of attention to improving K-12 education; however, attention also needs to be paid to young people who have graduated from high school and need further guidance and pathways to prosperity.

The input provided by the President’s Youth Council informs the Foundation’s priorities and investments. To make this more tangible and direct, Angelique invited Council members to identify and select a round of grants, totaling more than $100,000. Check out who they directed the funds to!

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