For our culminating and last challenge of the 2021-2022 program year, eight teams of Fellows selected nonprofits to work with that they were excited to support. Leveraging skills practiced and developed over the course of the fellowship, they co-designed these project collaborations with their partner organization. Fellows Andrea Gutierrez,
Miranda Graleski, Lily Passafume, Demitria Powell and Kelly Ulrich partnered with nonprofit Class Act Detroit
with Rashard Dobbins. Learn more about the collaboration below.

We connected with Class Act Detroit at a really exciting time for the organization. After a long, unsuccessful hunt for a physical location, the organization was able to purchase a recently vacated church on the west side of Detroit. The building itself, which had been a community gathering place for generations, was dated but in great shape. It was begging to be filled again with voices of community members, meals served family style and music celebrating the joys and sorrows of its people. 

Class Act Detroit’s Executive Director, Rashard Dobbins, walked us through the building on our kick-off day. His excitement was incredibly tangible as he shared his hopes and dreams for each space in the church. He told us his vision for re-purposing the community kitchen in the basement into a commercial kitchen that would serve to feed the neighborhood, provide a space for start-up food companies and a base for hosting community cook-outs. He walked us through the former day-care rooms which he envisioned as a dance studio and community podcast space. Through it all, his palpable passion created a vivid picture of what could be. 

We ended the tour in the sanctuary, a grand room filled with beautiful stained glass windows and piles of boxes filled with bibles and faded church programs. Rashard showed us the sound machines and speakers he uses with the kids to create their own music. He talked about the classes that he would host in this room, music and children’s voices pouring out the doors into the street. As we listened to his vision, we all started to see the growth trajectory of Class Act Detroit through his hopeful eyes.