Tell us about where you live and what makes your neighborhood unique?  

Although I grew up in Detroit, just outside of North Rosedale Park, I don’t currently live within city limits. I live in the city of Berkley, a small (less than 3 square miles) suburb of Detroit located 3 miles north of Detroit’s 8 Mile border. Berkley has a small town feel with a collection of mostly small, mom and pop businesses that have been neighborhood fixtures along with a few popular food chain establishments lining its main street (12 mile). For me, Berkley is currently an ideal place to live because it is centrally located. I can get anywhere (work, Downtown Detroit, visit my family and friends, etc.) within 20 minutes or less. My favorite places to frequent are Amici’s Gourmet Pizza and Living Room, Yellow Door Art Market, Council Thrift, Mr. Kabob’s (Yes, it’s in a gas station!), and Clark’s Ice Cream (when it’s warm).

What have you learned from Challenge Detroit so far?

What haven’t I learned?! This experience has allowed me to gain a better understanding of a multitude of topics that the City, its residents, and the region are facing. It has also allowed me to learn about the on-going initiatives and efforts of community leaders; both long-time Detroiters and recent transplants. In addition, I have also learned more about myself and the work I would like to continue to do.

Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization. Cranbrook Horizons-Upward Bound (HUB) is a nonprofit that has been around for over 50 years. Its mission is to help students from Detroit successfully matriculate through high school, enroll, attend, and graduate from a college/university of their choice; hopefully with minimal personal financial burden. Being a smaller non-profit, I’ve been able to wear many hats and have been able to contribute in different ways. From working directly with students to development and grant writing, program development to community engagement, alumni relations to education technology, recruiting to event planning, and even advocating on The Hill for educational and outreach programs from The State of Michigan, I am fortunate for the opportunity to grow skills that will allow me to better serve the students I currently work with, as well as the greater Detroit community.

What kind of impact do you hope to have with your host company and within the city?

I hope to continue to be able to help HUB become more effective so that the students we serve are able to achieve their goals. Within the city, I hope to continue to make connections and promote opportunities for collaboration to foster more inclusive and holistic communities.

What are you most looking forward to for the second half of your year as a Fellow?  

I’m most looking forward to continuing to learn more about the on-going initiatives and efforts in the City, as well as learning more from community leaders. I am also excited about beginning our Impact Projects and seeing how each fellow in this cohort will make a positive impact.

What do you envision for Detroit 10 years from now?

I envision a Detroit where all children are able to be children. What I mean by that is I hope that Detroit becomes a place where all residents feel connected to The City’s success, feel a sense of belonging, and have access to resources that will empower each person to achieve their goals. I envision a Detroit where communities and families thrive, and children are able to walk to school. With education in Detroit being a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in creating and maintaining vibrant and healthy neighborhoods, I believe that when Detroit becomes a place that supports the wellbeing and future of its youngest citizens, everything else will fall into place.

To learn even more about Paulette’s experiences as a Challenge Detroit Fellow check out her spotlight video below.