As the Outreach and Partnerships Team, for our first challenge of the year with Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), we heard from multiple key leaders in the community and the public education system that told stories that took us back in time with their detailed accounts of how the school district came to be. Our team’s focus was centered around identifying and connecting to community partners who support positive youth development, in hopes of getting them involved with a proposed student leadership conference. During this project, we spent time with student leaders who graciously allowed us a peak inside their locker-lined worlds. The students spoke deeply and honestly about the difficulties that shape their everyday life. During the interviews, they shared some heartbreaking stories. But despite it all – these kids glow like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The way they light up when they just get to be them. JUST GET TO BE KIDS! That’s why it was such an honor to co-design a city-wide student leadership conference with DPSCD. These students deserve the chance to shape their lives the way they want. We utilized the design thinking process to get to the root of what students wanted from this conference – and you’ll be surprised to know it wasn’t all music performers, swag bags and Snapchat filters. They were interested in resources to take care of their mental health. Opportunities to explore career and education paths. A chance to engage with their peers in a safe and fun setting.  We then identified-community partners and organizations that could offer these things.

Our team’s final deliverables consisted of a partnership asset map that is usable by faculty, students and parents and is modifiable. We also created outreach templates (email and phone call) which student ambassadors can use to pursue their own partnerships and resources. These deliverables have the intended use of empowering students to build their network of support, their own conference content and practical skills for future use. 

DPSCD Challenge Outreach and Partnerships Team: Dezha Willoughby, Samantha Rudelich, Danielle Shields, Renee Pellegrini and Andrew Moss