It’s hard to believe that we’ve wrapped up our fourth challenge! For the past five weeks, my team and I have been working with Reclaim Detroit. What a rewarding project! We were challenged to use storytelling to build awareness of job training as a key element of the social mission of Reclaim Detroit.

As we set out to tackle this challenge, the first thing was asked ourselves was: “what IS the story of the Reclaim Detroit job training program?”. We knew our best path to this story was through people, so we engaged with alumni of the program. We met with Detroiters from all walks of life, and conversed with them about their experiences. Though they each had their own unique story, across the board they brought an enthusiasm for the program and desire to give back. In these discussions, alumni articulated a story of opportunity, support, confidence-building and career development. Articia Bomer, when asked what Reclaim Detroit’s job training program meant to her, responded: “reclaiming Detroit, reclaiming my neighborhood, reclaiming ME”. This quote stood out to us, and as we stood in front of a white board in TechTown and ideated, we kept circling back to it. It was so inspiring to my team, and eventually became the epicenter of our storytelling campaign.

A life reclaimed; how do we share this story with the community? My team developed a collection of tools for Reclaim Detroit to meet this goal, grounded in storytelling graphics and a social media campaign and focused on the people of the job training program. We created alumni spotlight features, crafting blogs that divulge these Detroiter’s stories and the success they’ve found through Reclaim Detroit. Graphics accompany these blog posts, so that Reclaim Detroit may share their stories across their social media channels in a striking way. Additionally, we created an impactful product insert and encourage Reclaim to include it in the merchandising of their products alongside their brand. This product insert, like the social media campaign, focuses on the Detroiters impacted by the job training program. The impact of these deliverables is only genuine if Reclaim Detroit makes a commitment to continuing to engage with their alumni, so we propose that they create an alumni network. We envision the heart of this network to be a Reclaim Detroit Alumni Facebook Group and an annual reunion or alumni event. Developing an alumni network gives Reclaim Detroit an opportunity to continue to collect stories to share with the community and engage in the success of their people. When alumni are engaged, and Reclaim Detroit is engaged, we create a path to an engaged community.

Here’s the story we want them to know: Reclaim Detroit is more than just a job training program. It’s an opportunity. A support system. A confidence builder. A career path. A life reclaimed.