Detroit Fellowship

Diego Rivera's "Detroit Industry" mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts; photo by Thomas Hawk, 2010

Applications for the 2018 Humanity in Action Fellowships are now closed. Register here to be notified when applications for the Humanity in Action Fellowship in Detroit will open.


Humanity in Action’s Detroit Fellowship is an immersive educational program about inequality, development and opportunity in Detroit. The 2018 Detroit Fellowship will take place from July 10 - August 5, 2018. Over four weeks, a group of 22 Humanity in Action Fellows explore the most critical issues in Detroit –– poverty, employment, education, policing, housing, business development, transportation, food, farming, entrepreneurship, public health and more. 

The 22 Fellows come from across Michigan, the United States and the world to study course of progress and regression on social justice issues in Detroit since the 1967 rebellion. The Fellows develop strategies for equitable and inclusive development and implement Action Projects tackling urban challenges in their home communities. 

Fellows in the Detroit Fellowship join Humanity in Action’s network of more than 1,700 established and emerging leaders working to advance human rights, democracy and civic engagement around the world. 

The Detroit Fellowship is supported by the RNR Foundation, the Germeshausen Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

2018 Detroit Fellowship 

In 2017, Humanity in Action’s Detroit Fellowship examined the 50th anniversary of the 1967 rebellion. The Fellows investigated that history, spoke with witnesses and scholars and analyzed the ways in which government bodies, museums and community groups were commemorating the events of 1967.

In 2018, the fellowship will investigate the path of progress and regression on inequality and racism in Detroit since 1967. Using the 1968 Kerner Commission Report as a guide, the Fellows will examine enduring inequities in education, housing, employment and policing in 2018 Detroit. After conducting research and outreach, the Fellows will publish reports highlighting the ideas and initiatives that show promise in addressing Detroit’s inequalities. 

Areas of Discussion:

  • Education and opportunity
  • Employment and the future of jobs
  • Housing, development and foreclosures
  • Policing, crime and mass incarceration
  • Real estate development
  • Bankruptcy and public policy
  • Regional transit
  • Public health
  • Food and farming
  • Philanthropy and community investment
  • Art and activism
  • Regionalism
  • Entrepreneurship and technology
  • Immigration and religious diversity

Through immersive discussions and site visits throughout Detroit and Southeast Michigan, the Fellows will develop ideas –– expressed in essays and Action Projects –– for equitable and inclusive progress as responses to the enduring challenge of the Kerner Report for Detroit and other American cities.  



The Humanity in Action Model

Educate: Like all Humanity in Action programs, the Detroit Fellowship is highly interdisciplinary and features lectures and discussions with renowned academics, journalists, politicians, entrepreneurs and activists, as well as site visits to municipal agencies, non-profit and community organizations, museums and memorials. The program seeks to highlight different models of action to remedy injustice and inequality. It also aims to instill a responsibility among Fellows to recognize and address the need to protect minorities and promote human rights—in their own communities and around the world.

Connect: The objective of the Detroit Fellowship is to facilitate a collective exploration of the social and political roots of discrimination and inequality, as well as to create a forum where potential solutions can be considered and discussed. Within this forum, Fellows from diverse backgrounds connect with one another and with established leaders who serve as program speakers. Additionally, Senior Fellows, the alumni of the Humanity in Action Fellowship, participate in Humanity in Action's international network. Fellows have access to HIA Connect, an online platform where Humanity in Action's network of more than 1,700 Fellows and Senior Fellows connect, share information and remain active in the issues addressed during the Fellowship.  

Inspire: After completing the program, Fellows have one year to initiate Action Projects on important issues within their own communities. These Action Projects enable Fellows to apply the knowledge and skills they gained from their Fellowship experiences. To support the professional growth of its Fellows beyond their program experience, Humanity in Action also offers ongoing opportunities, including international conferences and professional fellowships in the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament and with organizations such as the NAACP and the ACLU.


Humanity in Action sponsors the costs of participation, programming, accommodations, group meals, and local transportation during the Detroit Fellowship. However, all Fellows are responsible for financing the cost of round-trip airfare to and from Detroit. Humanity in Action covers this cost for Fellows with documented need.

Fellows should also plan to bring spending money of approximately $450 for some food and social activities during the fellowship program. If these expenses are prohibitive, Fellows should contact Humanity in Action for support.