For our first challenge of the 2020-2021 program year, we were thrilled to partner with Generation of Promise, a youth leadership program of Focus: HOPE, and Alumni Fellow Alexa Borromeo. As the Program Manager of Generation of Promise, we collaborated with Alexa and the Generation of Promise staff as well as their stakeholders on a six-week long project. Learn more from the perspective of our project partner Alexa! 

What year were you a Challenge Detroit Fellow and what was a highlight of your fellowship experience?

I was a Year 7 Challenge Detroit Fellow (shout out to my Year 7 Fellows!), and for me that entire year was one of personal and professional growth.  Through Challenge Detroit, I was able to work at Ford Motor Company leading community engagement through public-private sector partnerships in cities across North America.  This was completely new work for me, and through the experience I learned how to navigate new professional environments.  As my late mentor, Marlowe Stoudamire, who I met through Challenge Detroit, shared with me – I was able to work on my proficiency in the four key languages: community, government, business, and philanthropy.  I don’t know if I would have gotten those kinds of experiences if Challenge Detroit didn’t push me to try new things.

What have you been up to since your Challenge Detroit fellowship?

Since graduating from Challenge Detroit, I was offered a new opportunity to continue to work in community organizing and engagement here in Detroit.   I am now the Program Manager for the Generation of Promise program at Focus: HOPE, a social justice and youth leadership program for Metro Detroit high school students.  My day-to-day includes designing anti-racism curriculum; collaborating with community leaders and organizations to create hands-on learning experiences for our students; coordinating volunteers, school partners, and alumni to support the program; and of course, facilitating the learning and personal development of the 60 youth leaders in our program each year.

2018-2019 Challenge Detroit Alumni Fellow & Generation of Promise Program Manager Alexa Borromeo

What interested you in doing a challenge project collaboration with Generation of Promise and Challenge Detroit?

I was so excited to be selected to partner with Challenge Detroit! In my first two years working with Generation of Promise, I have had to lead the program through a significant transition from existing as a subsidiary organization of Focus: HOPE to becoming a fully integrated Focus: HOPE program.  This transition opened up so many new possibilities and capacity for our program, and this fall was the perfect time to bring in the Challenge Detroit Fellows with their fresh perspectives, skillsets, and ideas.  Having been a Fellow myself I knew the high level of talent, energy, and innovation Fellows bring when they work together and I couldn’t pass it up!

What have the Fellows created for you and the Generation of Promise staff through this project?

The scope of the challenge project focused on supporting Generation of Promise from various angles – alumni engagement, storytelling, building awareness of our regional impact, building youth voice on our Board of Advisors, and even innovative virtual event design for celebrating the program’s 30-year history.  All of these project components came together to bring incredible value to our program staff!  We now have beautifully designed documents that are critical to our work – for example, a newly updated Board of Advisors Welcome Packet and a Generation of Promise “30 Years of Impact” catalogue that shares the history of the program over the years, to name just a few of the deliverables the Fellows created.

What comes next — how will you move forward with the deliverables created by the teams of Challenge Fellows?

The deliverables created by each team of Fellows have helped our staff make so much progress in Generation of Promise’s transition into Focus: HOPE and into its 30th year.  We now have recommendations and action plans in hand, that were developed with the input from Generation of Program stakeholders, for us to take forward. We are ready to go full force with expanding our alumni programming to connect our 1,700+ alumni worldwide, electing our first Youth Board Members onto our Board of Advisors, thoughtfully celebrating our 30-year history in spring of 2021, and telling the story of Generation of Promise in a fresh and engaging way.

What have you enjoyed most about working with the Fellows?

I really loved the energy and enthusiasm the cohort of Fellows brought to learning more about Generation of Promise, asking great questions, and being so generous with the knowledge and skills they have to offer.  But, what I most enjoyed about working with the Fellows was the engagement they had with our students, alumni, board members, school partners, and community.  I felt very confident connecting the Generation of Promise community with the Fellows for stakeholder interviews and letting the Fellows do their thing, because I could feel that they authentically wanted to support our work.   It was fulfilling to have so many of our community members’ voices heard through the Challenge design thinking project process.

Anything else you want to share?

Thank you to the Challenge Detroit Fellows, the leadership team, and all of those who support Challenge Detroit!  I am so grateful for the value this project added to Generation of Promise, and also for all the opportunities Challenge Detroit has opened for me in my own life.