“Challenge Detroit has illuminated so many possibilities for me. I am constantly surrounded by inspiring leaders who have dedicated their lives to uplifting the community they love and the people in it. Detroit has been an underserved community for far too long, and the passion that these changemakers have in supporting their city, despite that, motivates me to continue investing in my own community every day. – Cait Bilkovsky

Life as a Fellow

Being a Challenge Fellows means getting the opportunity to gather all of the skills and knowledge you’ve cultivated over the years and put them to use helping drive the mission for Non Profit Organizations forward. After spending 5 years honing my skills and learning from some of the most amazing professors out there, I was happy to finally be able to put into practice all of the things I had learned in theory. Part of the program is knowing exactly what communities you are working with, and what it is that they are asking for, not what you think is best. Coming into the space with little expectations and an open mind is pivotal for this work, and a skill that I will take into my future endeavors. It’s very hard work, but it’s the most rewarding work out there, knowing that you are having a direct impact on communities that have been perpetually underserved and have long deserved this support.

However, it’s not all ideation and prototyping (steps in the design thinking process). Fellows have the chance to participate in unique experiences —such as pre-game activities with the Pistons basketball team, and tickets to events put on by local businesses. Fellows connect throughout the projects and then have the opportunity to grow those connections outside of the projects. I’ve built a few connections that I am sure will last long past the end of the year, and a few connections from previous cohorts that have made a foreign city feel like home. Challenge Detroit truly embodies their pillars to Live, Work, Play, Give, Lead!

Ivy takes her emotional support duties very seriously after growing through so many of life’s struggles with me. We can’t wait to grow through whatever the future holds together.

ABOUT: My name is Cait Bilkovsky, I am a recent Graduate of the U of M Psychology department looking to get my Masters in Social Work following the fellowship. Currently, I am a Human Resources Project Assistant at the Detroit Land Bank Authority. My hometown is in Grand Rapids, Michigan but have made homes in both Ann Arbor and Detroit. My dream is to one day live abroad somewhere that allows my love for nature to flourish. Outside of academics and non-profit work, I enjoy reading, being creative, and spending time with my loved ones!