For our fourth and last challenge of the 2022-2023 program year, we partnered with Teen HYPE, a nonprofit that works alongside Detroit area youth (12-24) to celebrate them and build collective power, agency, leadership, and critical skills—making it possible for them to enact positive change in their lives and communities. Five teams of Fellows worked alongside the Teen HYPE staff, Detroit 4 Youth (D4Y) consultants and stakeholders including youth to create deliverables focused on the Detroit Youth Action Plan (DYAP) for this project – learn more from the perspective of each team!

“Building off of each other, we can do bigger, better projects if we use our connections, rather than competing against each other; we can help each other.” Zamier, Teen HYPE Youth Advisory Council 

For our last Challenge Project, we had the honor of working with Teen HYPE on the Detroit Youth Action Plan (DYAP) – a citywide plan on how to make Detroit the best place to raise young people. Our team focused specifically on how to actively engage grassroots organizations from around the city in the DYAP planning process, inspired by the design question: How might we amplify the engagement of local grassroot partners to be a part of the Detroit youth action plan (DYAP)? 

Speaking to stakeholders from youth-serving organizations around Detroit was important in helping our team gain a better understanding of the needs of grassroots organizations, the relationship among youth-serving entities, and what strong engagement looks like. Shuna Hayward, VP of Programs for Connect Detroit both amplified and helped the team to understand our charge when she said, “It’s very hard to sustain engagement, or something that’s not your day job, if it feels like nothing is coming out of it.” This insight highlighted how factors such as organizational capacity, value-alignment, and limited time and resources, pose challenges for generating inter-organizational collaboration. 

With that in mind, we focused our efforts on building out recommendations, strategies, and tools, which centered around collaboration and ensuring that partner organizations feel valued in contributing to the DYAP. Using the insights from our stakeholders and liaisons, we identified four primary categories around which we designed our recommendations, strategies, and tools. They include: engaging partners through interactive events; engaging grassroot partners through online platforms; normalizing partnerships in engagement processes; and building an infrastructure to support lasting collaboration and engagement across partner organizations.

For example, to better engage partners through interactive events, we built out a “Lunch and Learn” series idea that would allow for organizations to come together to learn about the types of services and work that they do. We also recommended an inner organizational retreat with the idea of building camaraderie and flexibility, as well as determining shared objectives across organizations involved with the DYAP.

We found that engaging grassroots partners through online platforms would be critical to the success of the DYAP. We provided one example of this online engagement through a framework for a shared youth resource page, which could be built into the current DYAP website. This editable document would allow for partner organizations to share any and all resources they are currently aware of and utilizing for their work in supporting young people in Detroit. In addition, we recommended an informational video, featuring the voices of youth, to discuss what the DYAP is and how to engage partners.

We can’t wait to see how the Detroit youth ecosystem will continue to center young Detroiters over the coming years. We’re enamored by how Teen HYPE enables young Detroiters to feel seen. In that same spirit, we’re glad Teen HYPE saw something in us, trusting us to propose our recommendations. 

Blog by Fellow Team: Hannah Rickard, Serena Brewer, Megan Pham, Daniel Arini, Donald Stuckey