Graduate and undergraduate students work in teams on projects identified by staff at People’s Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit. Recent projects have included nutrition and cooking classes with youth, activity based STEM projects, community gardening, media literacy, and arts and crafts.
Each semester a student involved with the Detroit Initiative acts as a liaison between the community agencies and the DI courses. This student acts as a bridge between the two parties, working with the two parties to address any issues that occur and ensuring there are clear lines of communication.
The Detroit Initiative believes in ensuring a true partnership with the community agencies in which it supports. Each year, the Detroit Initiative student group holds fundraising activities and submits funding proposals on behalf of the agencies.
Detroit Initiative’s Campus Visit is a usually an annual event held during the school year or during the summer term. The Campus Visit gives youth from our Detroit community partners, a chance to visit the University of Michigan campus to learn more about the university and higher-education, in general. The Campus Visit provides an unparalleled, hands-on, experience for the youth that cannot be achieved in the classroom.
This year’s campus visit was a day-long event with the youth of People’s Community Services of Delray. Among the activities that were scheduled was an Athletic Department tour, lunch at Mosher Jordan (a campus dorm cafeteria), a central-campus scavenger hunt, and a higher-education panel. It was with the help of the Athletic Department, ROTC, University of Michigan athletes, university housing staff, the Financial Department, and the students of the Detroit Initiative class and organization that made this event possible. The youth left the University of Michigan that day with a new perspective on university life and the myriad of opportunities available to them after graduation.
Detroit Initiative students are currently undertaking a new research study comprised of three parts. The first element will involve contacting people who have previously been involved with the Detroit Initiative to assess long-term outcomes such as social consciousness in future endeavors, greater confidence in their knowledge of socio-cultural and community work, and whether these participants have pursued careers or extra-curricular activities in civic engagement. The second part of this research project will look at immediate outcomes of students before and after enrolling in a Detroit Initiative course. The research will focus on how service learning projects have helped students to gain insight into the inner workings of community organizations, learn about the socio-cultural influences on community work, and learn to reflect and process their experiences with community work. Lastly, this project will also involve an element of exploratory research, investigating into the motivations for performing community service.
Arts-informed Health Awareness (AHA)
The Detroit Initiative is designing and implementing culturally-relevant arts-based programs with youth to educate them about healthy living. The current project is at the PCS Delray site and is on the themes of healthy relationships and interpersonal violence. We have used community based methods to gather information from youth and staff to get their insights on the themes of dating, relationships, and interpersonal violence and their input on the types of interventions in which they and their peers would like to participate. The data from these focus groups have been used to design workshops to meet the particular needs and interests of the Delray teens. We are continuously evaluating the program to measure its implementation and its impact, and look forward to implementing the program again next semester.
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit is a youth development non-profit organization in Detroit, Michigan with a mission to empower young people on how maximize their potential through professional performing arts training and the creation of first-rate theatrical and musical art. Detroit initiative is working with the Mosaic Youth Theater to evaluate the effect that this group has on the personal, social and academic development of the youth through art performance and professional theater.
PCS Delray Skillman Evaluation
People’s Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit, PCS, got a grant from the Skillman Foundation to implement Building Capacity – Building Neighborhoods project. This project includes three sub-projects: 1. Develop fund development ability; 2. Develop and implement a free transportation services for children and youth in Southwest Detroit; 3. Form a youth environment watch group. The University of Michigan Detroit Initiative Program is undertaking an outcome and process evaluation of Building Capacity – Building Neighborhoods project. This evaluation aims to assess how effectively PCS is implementing this project, make recommendations for improvement of program implementation, and contribute data that will drive the overall development of a model for program implementation at the community level.