For our first challenge of the 2022-2023 program year, we were excited to partner with Detroit at Work, the City of Detroit workforce development agency, powered by Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, a Michigan Works! Agency. Five teams of Fellows worked collaboratively with Detroit at Work (DaW) and the Community Health Corps (CHC) staff as well as community stakeholders to deliver this project – learn more from the perspective of each team! 

In the last two months (wow, time flew), we have had the opportunity to collaborate and learn from DaW. We were tasked with our design question of “How might we develop communication strategies that are based on who the community partner organization is and how they reach their audience?”

In the beginning there was a steep learning curve, and it took us a few Fridays to really gain our momentum towards our end products. But one of the things that set us on the right path was speaking with the DaW partners. Through our discussions we learned about the need for accessible resources in different languages and reading levels. In addition, there was emphasis on how resources are being distributed to community members. This includes crossing the digital divide, utilizing word of mouth, sharing success stories, and building trust to bring people into the career centers and partner organizations. One of the quotes that stuck out to us was the quote “Become your best build board ever” by Keith McCallum, Director of Client Services, Street Democracy, emphasizing the importance of walking the walk and speaking about their services. 

The other quote that stood out to us was “wishing for more connection and wanting to establish more trust” by Robin Johnston, Communications Manager, DESC. We heard that stakeholders wanted a push and pull relationship, more collaboration between DaW and their partners. Also, the desire to strengthen transparency between organizations to be able to share resources and events. 

These insights shaped our thinking when working on our deliverables, where we wanted to focus on opportunities for collaboration and networking. In the end, we created an 8 page Strategic Communication Guide that outlined several recommendations for communications based on interview insights. We also created a corresponding Materials toolkit. Two of our recommendations, we were really excited to share with the DaW team. We recommend Takeover Tuesday on social media, ultimately providing  an opportunity for collaboration between DaW and their partners, benefiting both parties’ audiences through digital exposure and cross platform promotion. We propose a Pop-up event, which would be an in-person event for DaW and their partners to network and bring the resources they provide into one interactive space,

We were very excited to share these recommendations with the DaW team last week, and look forward to any opportunities to work together in the future. We’d like to specifically thank Raven Scott for her undeniable energy and positive attitude. We’d also like to thank Oliva Vaden for supporting, humbling and grounding us throughout this entire process. We’d like to end with a quote from Olivia which guided us through the last half of the project. “Remember the Why”, remember why you are doing this project, remember why DaW is doing what they are, and that will help guide you. 

Written by Fellow Team: Katherine Kenney, Kyra O’Guinn, Chauncey Thompson, Eva Morlock, and Katie Ferriby