For our first challenge of the 2021-2022 program year, we were thrilled to partner with Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance (MDBBA), a recently launched nonprofit committed to advocacy, programming, and providing resources for Black businesses and entrepreneurs led by President/CEO Charity Dean and COO Kai Bowman. Eight teams of Fellows supported this project – learn more from the perspective of each team! 

Seven weeks of hard work and we have made it to the end with our final deliverables!!!

Our experiences working together as the Black Business Resource Center (BBRC) team — Effie Alofoje-Carr, Joshua Hubbard, Haley Schultheis, Karmel-Serah Reeves, Ryan Smith — and with MDBBA were challenging in the best way. Using the design thinking process, we were able to take the necessary and meaningful steps to complete our project in the seven-week timeline. 

Attentive listening in the beginning stage of the project allowed us to gather insights into the needs of both the MDBBA as an organization and members of the MDBBA. Collaboration within the group, and encouraging idea sharing, gave us the opportunity to open ourselves up to a diverse group of potential solutions. 

Ideating was one of the most enjoyable steps as we were able to think big. Following ideation, we narrowed down our ideas to figure out how to best address our “how might we” question. As individuals, we were able to see where we could best contribute to the team and explore our strengths and weaknesses. 

Creating the deliverables was a learning process as we saw our ideas transforming into solid plans for creating change. Our deliverables for the BBRC included: a social media strategy with post-ready graphics and content, a marketing strategy including a buddy pass concept, T-Shirts, and email and text blasts, and a Resource Center Program Calendar filled with strategic types of events.

Working with MDBBA staff, we were able to explore what best fit their vision and make tweaks to our ideas. In our final week of the Challenge 1 project, we are proud of what our team has created and how we came together to solve problems. Being open to feedback and being flexible are two main takeaways from this first project. We will look forward to carrying what we learned into future projects and partnerships.