Our mission: We develop, support, and connect emerging and existing community-minded leaders, amplifying the positive impact on our diverse, culturally vibrant city.
Challenge Detroit cultivates diverse, innovative, community-minded leaders from the city and across the country, fostering their talents to support local initiatives that move Detroit forward. While they spend four days a week accelerating their professional careers with our Host Companies, each Friday Fellows take a day out of the office to bring social impact challenge projects to life in collaboration with our local nonprofit partners. They work in multi-disciplinary teams, bringing their vision, creative muscles, and entrepreneurial spirits to address some of Detroit’s greatest challenges and opportunities. We believe that to move our city forward, positive change starts with an individual and is ignited by a community of leaders who bring innovative perspectives to their work, and most importantly, the nonprofits already making an impact within our Detroit communities.
Challenge Detroit was founded in 2008 by Doyle Mosher and Deirdre Groves in response to the exodus of young talent leaving Detroit and Michigan. Doyle, father of two young professionals, was the visionary behind the idea. Deirdre, a recent college graduate at the time who witnessed friends and peers leaving the state en masse, had the youthful energy to put action to the idea. Both saw the need to attract and retain young talent in the greater Detroit area. And, in the true spirit of entrepreneurialism, the two made countless sacrifices to bring the idea to reality.
To support the idea of Challenge Detroit, Doyle and Deirdre brought together ~75 of the region’s top entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinkers desiring to make an impact and contribute their intellectual capital to the revitalization efforts of the community, in a deep recession at the time. These individuals together formed an organization called The Collaborative Group and, through the Group, developed the strategy for Challenge Detroit and found initial companies to employ program participants along with funding to launch the initiative.
After several years of strategic planning, creative thinking and plenty of hard work, Doyle and Deirdre launched the program’s first recruitment cycle in early 2012. At that time, Deirdre met Shelley Danner at a local Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference.. The two hit it off immediately recognizing their shared passion for Detroit and making a difference in their home state of Michigan. With well balanced skills and attributes, Deirdre and Shelley came together to further design and implement Doyle’s vision for the program.
Challenge Detroit became an official 501c3 nonprofit organization in June 2012 and launched its first yearlong fellowship program in August 2012. Since then we have successfully run seven program years and over 200 (and counting) early career professionals / alumni have participated in the program.