Near Dexter and Joy Road on Detroit’s westside, a neighborhood full of families and youth watched their neighborhood K-12 school close. This closing was one of dozens in the City in 2016. This left parents to figure out where and how to get their kids to a new school. It left kids feeling sad that they could not walk to school with their friends.
Despite the school closing, a pre-existing weekly community dinner continued to thrive and naturally became an important connection point for the neighbors. Many youth came to gather for this neighborhood dinner every Tuesday night. Youth began to bring their homework and express a desire for something just for them. A group of neighbors, families, a local non-profit (YWAM Detroit) and a small local church came together and launched what is now the Gladstone Studio, an after-school program focused on literature and the arts.
Every Tuesday night in the basement of a Gladstone neighbor’s home, one can find a group of youth ranging from K-12 engaged in reading, STEM labs, life skills training, creative activities, and always sharing a meal together. This grassroots initiative is still morphing and growing now. Last year, a local artist raised funds to donate instruments for the Studio after hearing the desire of the youth to have a music program, since most of their schools don’t provide music. The Gladstone Studio community members hope to expand into an organized music and arts program this year, connecting local musicians, rappers, writers and dancers to the youth in the community.
The neighborhood school remains closed for now. This continues to be a strain on the families in the neighborhood. The Gladstone Studio exists to continue to support these brilliant youth as they continue to discover their potential and their dreams.