My impact project was a great experience for me, and has allowed me to practice and refine my leadership abilities. I knew that I wanted to work with East Side Community Network for this project because I’ve been hearing about the great things they do in the city since I moved to Detroit. I originally envisioned me working with them on some kind of neighborhood stabilization project, but when I reached out to them, they instead expressed a strong need for me to work with them to assist with their youth development initiatives.

They were preparing for the grand opening of The Vault teen center, which is a small youth led organization meant to be a safe space for teens on the east side of Detroit. The design question for my project was, “how might we empower and equip the Teen Advisory Council (TAC) at the East Side Community Network with the knowledge base to build and grow The Vault teen center”?

I started my project off by conducting interviews with about 30 youth residing on the east side of Detroit to get a better idea of their needs, interests and daily lives. I also talked with the TAC, who will govern The Vault to get a better understanding of what they perceived as the biggest challenges they would face while leading The Vault. They stated that it would be difficult to plan events, get other youth interested in coming and receiving the fundraising needed to be successful.

In response to the interview feedback I received, over the next month I did a ton of research and utilized my past experience and knowledge base to create a toolkit in the form of a binder that could be easily shared amongst the TAC members. I divided the binder into four sections, each section providing materials and/or guides.

The Sections are as followed:

  1. Securing Funding
  2. Event Planning
  3.  Youth Outreach
  4. Additional Materials

In addition, I also led a workshop with the council, sharing the same information I would put in the binder, and engaging them in experiential learning. I gave them all the task of dividing up into groups and planning their own events with their newfound knowledge base. It was exciting to witness them present their events to the rest of the group, because it seems that they truly digested the information. I hope the binder I leave behind for them will act as a resource that they can use for many months to come.

Gabrial Taylor

Year 5 Challenge Detroit Fellow