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Organizational Learning

In Their Own Words

The Skillman Foundation’s commitment to Detroit children means that we must keep youth at the center, listen intently to what they have to say, and respond boldly.  Centering youth is crucial to our ability to confront contemporary inequitable and unjust practices, policies, and narratives as well as historical, systemic barriers to opportunities.

In this moment of profound reckoning across the country, we are looking inward and deepening our understanding of what Detroit youth say they want and need from us.

We began by commissioning Kaleidoscope Pathways, LLC to conduct a brief scan of recent publications that amplify youth voices.  What they found were publications that collected and synthesized thousands of youth voices via interviews, focus groups, and surveys. Because the scan focused on recent youth voices, both the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent media coverage depicting the brutality and insidiousness of white supremacy and racism influenced youth responses. However, many of the issues and concerns youth raised during the last two years have been deeply entrenched and endemic before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the spirit of transparency, we are pleased to share In Their Own Words: A Review of Youth Perspectives on School, Mental Health, Social Justice, and More. It serves as a reality check for all those who are champions of children—us included.  It provides a concise roadmap for deeper, more intentional listening to our Detroit youth and calls upon all of us to engage in bolder actions to ensure that our children thrive.

Read the report.

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