Are you ready for the challenge?

Challenge Detroit is a year-long, multidisciplinary fellowship program that cultivates diverse, innovative, emerging and existing, community-minded leaders from the City of Detroit and across the country, fostering their talents to support local initiatives that move Detroit forward.

How to become a Fellow

We will begin accepting applications for our 2022-2023 program year in Winter 2022. In the meantime, you can learn more about us below and sign up to be notified when the 2022-2023 Fellowship Application opens by completing our interest form here.


We are looking for candidates from the City of Detroit, surrounding areas, the state of Michigan and beyond who represent a diverse range of race/ethnicity, gender identity, orientation, thought, experience, perspective and ability. The most successful candidates are passionate about community, dedicated, proactive, hard-working, innovative, adaptable and have a growth mindset.

There are three (3) applicant types that candidates fall into*:

  • Standard Applicant: individuals who are looking for a job, and will have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution by the time the program begins
  • Internal Applicant: individuals who already have a job, and will have at least a Bachelor’s degree and approval to participate from their employer in the Metro Detroit area
  • Community Leader Fellow Applicant: individuals who already have a job in the community space and will have a high school diploma/GED and relevant work experience by the time the program begins, and approval to participate from their employer in the Metro Detroit area

*Regardless of a candidates’ applicant type, once candidates are selected to be a Fellow, they become a part of the same cohort and have access to the same resources.

All applicants must:

  • be able to read and communicate in written and spoken English fluently—all materials are in English and programs are conducted in English (candidates with proficiency in more than one language are welcome).
  • be U.S. citizens OR are authorized to work in the United States for the duration of the program (Sept 2022 to Aug 2023).**
  • meet our full list of requirements which can be viewed by clicking here.

**Challenge Detroit is unable to assist with employment authorization, visa sponsorship or relocation.


Monday-Thursday: Fellows gain valuable career skills through employment at one of our host companies—from large corporations to small businesses, nonprofits and public-serving organizations, and everything in between. To see a list of host companies we are currently partnering with click here. To see past host companies click here.

Every Friday: Fellows engage in the program by working together and collaborating with local nonprofits—our Challenge Project partners—on innovative challenges designed to move their missions forward. Fellows also engage in leadership development sessions designed to develop each Fellow’s skills.

As a Challenge Detroit Fellow, you will:

  • develop valuable leadership, project management and team-building skills through a multi-faceted leadership development program;
  • gain knowledge and experience in various areas of impact in an accelerated time frame;
  • grow your career at your host company and learn about different sectors and industries;
  • learn and leverage the art of design thinking and community development best practices;
  • collaborate with multiple Detroit-based nonprofits on strategic, intellectually-based, community-focused projects to support them in moving their missions forward;
  • acquire a better understanding of the city by learning about the history of Detroit, how it has impacted the region, and about various neighborhoods in the city;
  • cultivate meaningful relationships with your cohort and the broader Challenge Detroit community;
  • connect with mentors and gain access to local leaders who have an interest in your success;
  • join the network of over 300 alumni Fellows who continue to engage and support the program as well as contribute in their communities; and
  • receive a $43,000 annual salary** plus benefits typical of your host company.

**If you already have a job, your employer will determine your salary.

The Commitment:

  • Commit to one full year to the program (September to the end of August in the following year);
  • Be open to learning and approaching the year with a beginners mindset;
  • Demonstrate integrity, empathy, humility, responsibility and accountability;
  • Become an integral part of the Challenge Detroit community, as an active participant in initiatives, mentorship and programming;
  • Be willing to document experiences in a variety of formats including social media, video and blogs;
  • Work closely with multi-disciplinary teams of Fellows and collaborate with partners on various challenge projects; and
  • Represent your host company and Challenge Detroit while working in the community.


Diversity, equity and inclusion are a cornerstone of Challenge Detroit. We believe that all persons are entitled to equal opportunity. We do not discriminate against qualified applicants because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, breastfeeding or related medical condition, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, genetic characteristic, military or veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. We strive to create and support a culture where people can be themselves and feel included while including others. We value a diverse representation of individuals from near and far, across races and ethnicities, gender experience and orientation, skills, experience and abilities. Diversity of thought and perspective are essential to our work.

Still want to know more? Click here to read our FAQs.

The Application Process

  • Online Fellowship Application 
    Complete a basic online application and submit a one-page resume*, essay response and a 60-second application video by our deadline. Click here to view our application tips and guidelines.*If applicable to your industry (architecture, graphic design, etc.), you will also be asked to submit your portfolio link.
  • Application Review
    Challenge Detroit leadership, our host companies, and a community review team consisting of leaders from various industries, will review each application and select candidates to invite to move forward.
  • The Virtual Interview Experience (VIE) – June 2022
    Candidates who have been selected will join us for a two-day Virtual Interview Experience (VIE) where they will interview with our host companies/potential employers, hear from current and alumni Fellows, and learn more about the city and our program. Participation in the VIE is required for standard candidates.
  • Placements
    Following the VIE, Challenge Detroit leadership will work with the host companies to determine final job placements and notify candidates of their acceptance into the program.