For our second challenge of the 2023-2024 program year, we partnered with Wayne Metro Community Action Agency (WM), a nonprofit organization serving approximately 75,000 low-and moderate-income residents throughout Wayne County with a mission to empower people and communities to be strong, healthy, and thriving in pursuit of eliminating poverty. Three teams of Fellows focused on enhancing workforce development programs with the WM Innovation Lab,  working alongside WM staff and community stakeholders, including program participants – learn more about the project from the Fellows! 

We started off the project meeting with the leaders of the Detroit Residents First Fund (DRFF) and Innovation Lab teams at Wayne Metro. They introduced us to the vast range of community-based programming that they provide for Wayne County residents, along with the history of the organization. DRFF secures funding for Detroit-based nonprofits and the Innovation Lab provides on-the-job training for underserved community members to propel their careers forward. Our three teams focused on helping the Innovation Lab tackle challenges related to onboarding, recruitment, and retention for these programs.The passion of the staff was evident throughout each stage of the process. Project Manager, Latoria Glenn-Carr, said, “I believe that my role is to provide opportunities… it’s not that people don’t know what to do, but they don’t know where to start.” 

Utilizing design thinking, our three teams prepared an effective set of deliverables under the framework provided by Wayne Metro that included a career pathway plan, a post-graduation data dashboard, and an onboarding roadmap. Throughout the process, we were thankful for the open-mindedness of the career coaches, program managers, and liaisons. We also appreciated the community contribution during stakeholder interviewers that made the success of our cohort possible. We’re so thankful to have had the opportunity to help bolster Wayne Metro’s mission to eradicate poverty in Detroit and Wayne County. 

Blog Written by Fellow Teams including: Caitlyn Bilkovsky, Von Ellis, Jessenia Cranfill, KeKe Jordan, Malik Gibbs-Ochoa, Bella Fernandez, Henry Zhou, Carolyn Gonzalez-Bright, Tori Silvester, Kameron Bloye, Madeline Darbyshire, Raquel Santos, Kim Swinehart, Gary Hopkins, Jane Sun