Introducing The Skillman Visionary Awards

“I feel great about it!” Detroit youth donate $205k to programs that helped them

The greatest gift is to be able to give.  

This holiday season, a dozen young Detroiters, aged 13-23, came together to donate $205,000 to help fund the programs that have been meaningful to their lives.                               

The act of giving was one of the final activities taken by The Skillman Foundation’s President’s Youth Council, a group of 13 Detroit youth who are wrapping up a two-year term as consultants, helping guide the Foundation’s priorities, strategies, and grantmaking. Their final act will be helping select the 2023-24 youth council, which will be announced in January.  

“It’s an honor to give back to the youth in my community. I’ve tried and failed plenty of times for going without. I wouldn’t want my peers to experience the things I had to just to get by,” says DaiNeisha Stephens, a youth council member who works as a community violence prevention specialist. “It’s a big blessing and I feel great about it!” 

“Joining The Skillman Foundation last fall, the very first meeting I had was with the youth council. I knew immediately: these young people don’t just want to talk. They have big ideas. They are intersectional and entrepreneurial thinkers. They want to be part of decision making and actions,” says Angelique Power, president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation.  

This grantmaking round is the second batch of grants the Youth Council has made. In December of 2021, they directed over $100,000 to Detroit nonprofits. We recorded them sharing the news about their grant awards to the recipients they selected—watch here!  

This December, we doubled the dough. Youth Council members divvied up a pot of $205,000 across 16 organizations. We’ve listed them below, with council members’ commentary about the importance of these programs in the lives of Detroit kids.  

Bringing Hope Back Home ($11,625) 

“Students want to hear from people who are closer in age, from similar backgrounds, share similar experiences, and are not far removed from the high school education system,” says Nadia Jahan. “Bringing Hope Back Home is completely student run and led. Their purpose is to help with the transition to college and to provide exposure to higher education.”   

Center for Success Network ($6,625) 

“This program helps Detroit youth learn how to read or improve their reading and writing skills. The programs works. My sister and brothers went to this program and when it was time to leave, they never wanted to go,” says Justin Jackson.  

Chapel Vision Community Development Corporation ($11,625) 

“Chapel Vision Community Development Corporation collaborates with private, corporate, and religious entities to promote the continued growth of healthy and viable communities. They focus on enhancing financial literacy, technological advancement, youth-led programming, tutoring, mentorship, and scholarship programming,” says Jeremiah Steen

Clark Park Coalition ($16,625) 

“They offer many different amenities that youth can indulge in. A few activities are ice hockey in the winter, baseball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse, golf, and soccer. This is great because it’s hard to find affordable and sustainable organizations that offer these types of programs,” says Makian Chamblis.  

Detroit Area Youth Uniting Michigan ($11,625) 

“Coming from predominantly minority communities, and as youth, it is hard to advocate for ourselves. We have no say in anything that happens to us, with us, for us, etc. DAYUM is one of the few organizations in Detroit that allows youth to ask themselves, ‘what’s wrong with this situation and what can I do to change it?’ and it enables them to take action,” says Nadia Jahan.   

Detroit’s Muslim Youth Council ($11,625) 

“The work of DMYC is important for Detroit’s youth because their effort is rooted in moving our city toward equity and inclusivity through the leadership of young people. DMYC focuses on providing tools to the Muslim youth of this city to help build a better Detroit. It allows Detroit’s Muslim youth to reflect on their identity, develop leadership skills, attain a network of resources, and then directly impact their hometown,” says Mohammad Muntakim.  

East Warren Bills ($20,625) 

“EW Bills is unique because they are not just an ordinary football and cheer organization, but a family. Every child is allowed to join and play no matter their financial issues. This organization goes beyond helping youth succeed by helping the community as well,” says DaiNeisha Stephens.   

Motor City Chiefs Youth Sports ($20,625) 

“Motor City Chiefs’ work is very important for our youth. They offer guidance throughout the year supporting families. They provide meals, book drives, and build self-confidence with children within the organization and the community. This organization has led our youth to believe that they can overcome obstacles and become leaders while facing difficult times,” says DaiNeisha Stephens.   

Food 4 Thought ($6,625) 

“Food 4 Thought provides an opportunity for high school and college youth to partake in events that heighten self-awareness, business acumen and connections, scholarships, and mentorship.  The organization is run by three young Black males, offering a fresh perspective on community leadership. Food 4 Thought is able to connect to Black youth in a very natural way that makes them stand out from other organizations in the space,” says Justin Jackson

Full and Fabulous ($11,625) 

“Full and Fabulous is a unique organization because of the various activities they offer for young plus-size women to thrive and celebrate themselves, including a debutante ball,” says Joelle Wimberley

L!FE Leaders, Inc. ($11,625) 

“LiFe Leaders has and will continue to equip our youth with interpersonal and professional skills to prepare them for the real world of business and ethics,” says Logan Newman.  

MIStudentsDream ($11,625) 

“MIStudentsDream is important for Detroit’s youth because the mission of this organization is to make the educational landscape more equitable while advocating for the immigrant community. Also, this work is dedicated to uplifting youth voices and making space for youth from immigrant communities in the sector of Detroit’s educational landscape,” says Mohammad Muntakim

Money Matters For Youth ($8,625) 

“Financial literacy is how we as Black and Brown youth of America level the playing field. Money Matters For Youth has programs and a curriculum that are catered to setting our youth up for early success,” says Logan Newman

National Audubon Society, Wild Indigo Program ($11,625) 

“The National Audubon Society’s Wild Indigo program in Detroit has a flexible and everchanging curriculum that is determined by the community’s concerns.  The Wild Indigo program tackles local environmental and societal issues in order to create a bond between Detroit families, youth, and local national areas,” says Jeremiah Steen.  

Rosedale Grandmont Baseball League ($20,625) 

“The Rosedale Grandmont Baseball League gives young people in Detroit a close-up experience of what an involved, caring community working together looks like. Youth see parents talking and working together to provide transportation, snacks, and to make sure the players know they are supported. Young people get to see how conflict—there can be a lot of disagreements in baseball—is handled properly and safely. Many of the players also live in the community so it makes the neighborhood feel safer because you get to know many of the families that live nearby,” says Mathias Neloms

Women of Banglatown ($11,625) 

“Women of Banglatown’s work hits close to home for me. Growing up in the Detroit/Hamtramck area I didn’t have a space or an outlet to express myself creatively. Having a space for arts and well-being dedicated to first-generation, immigrant girls and women is incredibly heart-touching. This organization’s work is extremely important for elevating women and people of color in art, design, and craft,” says Nadia Jahan.   

Next Up  

Look for more youth-directed funds to come from The Skillman Foundation and its President’s Youth Council. In January 2023, a new two-year cohort of council members will be announced at and our Instagram and TikTok pages.  

The Skillman Foundation

The Skillman Foundation is a grantmaking organization established in 1960 by Rose Skillman. We have granted out more than $730 million and have served as a vocal advocate to strengthen K-12 education, afterschool programming, child-centered neighborhoods, youth and community leadership, and racial equity and justice.

We are in the process of developing a new strategic framework, co-designed with Detroit youth and their champions.

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