The Detroit Initiative

Established in 1995, the Detroit Initiative provides opportunities for U-M students and faculty to engage in education, service and research in the Detroit area by linking university resources with community partner organizations to respond to community-identified priorities. It is directed by Lorraine M. Gutierrez, a U-M professor of psychology and social work. Some examples of the Detroit Initiative’s work include:

Designing and implementing culturally-relevant, arts-based programs with youth at the People’s Community Services Delray site based on the themes of healthy relationships and interpersonal violence.

Working with the Mosaic Youth Theatre, a youth development, non-profit organization in Detroit, to evaluate its effect on the personal, social and academic development of Detroit youth through art performance and professional theater.

Undertaking an outcome and process evaluation of the People’s Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit’s Building Capacity – Building Neighborhoods project to assess its effectiveness and make recommendations for improvement of program implementation.

Holding fundraising activities and submitting funding proposals on behalf of partner agencies.

Hosting U-M campus visits for Detroit youth twice a year to learn more about the university and about higher-education. The visits provide an unparalleled, hands-on, experience with tours and special activities for the youth that cannot be achieved in the classroom. The youth leave campus with a new perspective on university life and the myriad of opportunities available to them after graduation.

Detroit Initiative students are currently undertaking a new research study to assess long-term outcomes of the program such as social consciousness in future endeavors, greater confidence in their knowledge of socio-cultural and community work, and whether these participants have pursued careers or extra-curricular activities in civic engagement. They will also look at immediate outcomes of students before and after enrolling in a Detroit Initiative course. The research will focus on how service learning projects have helped students to gain insight into the inner workings of community organizations, learn about the socio-cultural influences on community work, and learn to reflect and process their experiences with community work. The project is also investigating the motivations for performing community service.

more stories