2018 Fellowship Agenda

Program Agenda

The Humanity in Action Fellowship in Detroit is an immersive educational program about inequality, development and opportunity. The Fellowship explores the biography of Detroit –– a city deeply emblematic of the tensions of massive urban, economic, political and cultural change in 20th and 21st century urban America.

The Detroit Fellowship brings together a group of 22 promising young people who are passionate about public service, social justice and human rights. The Fellows are university students and young professionals. They come from Detroit, elsewhere in Michigan and the United States, and from Europe.

Over four weeks, the Humanity in Action Fellows take part in an expansive and interdisciplinary program that examines the promise, failure and possibilities of social and economic progress in Detroit. After the Fellowship, the Fellows develop Action Projects in their home communities and join Humanity in Action’s international network of more than 2,000 Fellows and Senior Fellows.

In Detroit, the Fellows meet with community leaders and expert observers to discuss the most critical issues in Detroit, including education, employment, public health, housing, transportation, policing, and business and entrepreneurship. Together, Fellows, staff and invited speakers investigate the histories of injustice and inequality in Detroit, current issues and policies, and models for civic engagement to build a more equitable, just and sustainable community. 

Humanity in Action established the Fellowship in Detroit in July 2017 –– on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 rebellion. In its second year, the Fellowship turns to examine a second 50th anniversary, that of the 1968 Kerner Commission Report on the rebellions in Detroit, Newark and other U.S. cities. The Fellows will investigate the course of progress and regression on four of the major issues laid out in the landmark report –– inequalities in education, employment, housing and policing. 

Humanity in Action is fortunate to work closely with the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Through collaborative programming and in-depth discussions, the Fellows gain insight into the impact of two of Detroit’s most important anchor institutions. 

Humanity in Action and its Fellows benefit immensely from the generous hospitality and advice of many friends in Detroit and beyond. Among them are Marsha Battle Philpot, Richard and Susie Lord, Heather Lord, Charles Ezra Ferrell, Juanita Moore, Salvador Salort-Pons, Annmarie Erickson, Jennifer Czajkowski and Asha Shajahan.

The fellowship was built upon the model of Humanity in Action’s Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellowship, a 2015 research program for Humanity in Action Senior Fellows. In 2017, it joined Humanity in Action’s John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta as the second U.S.-based annual Fellowship, along with annual European Fellowships in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Sarajevo and Warsaw.

2018 Agenda

July 10


  • Afternoon: Arrival of Fellows
  • 6:30pm - Welcome Dinner

July 11

The Geography of Change in Detroit
The city of Detroit is spread across a sprawling 139 square mile flat landscape in Southeast Michigan. Observers often note that the cities of San Francisco, Boston and the borough of Manhattan could all fit together within Detroit. The Detroit metropolitan region is 10 times larger than the city itself – 1,327 square miles. Witnessing the sheer size of Detroit is fundamental for understanding the city –– and its development, diversity and inequalities. We begin the Humanity in Action Fellowship in Detroit by exploring the city’s changing landscape mile after mile, visiting sites of architectural significance, such as the Guardian Building and the Boston Edison neighborhood, and in discussing Detroit’s long history of economic, cultural, political and urban change.
  • 9:45am - 11:15pm: Introduction to the Day, Video Screening: Make Reality by Andrew Benincasa (Anthony Chase, Program Director, Humanity in Action; Whitney Sherrill, Associate Program Director, Humanity in Action; and Sylwia Vargas, Program Intern, Humanity in Action)
  • 11:15 - 11:45am: The Georgraphy and History of Change in Detroit (Anthony Chase, Whitney Sherrill)
  • 12:30 - 1:15pm: Introduction to Collaborative Projects on the Kerner Report 50 Years Later (Anthony Chase)
  • 1:30 - 4:00pm: Tour of Detroit: From the Neighborhoods to Downtown (Eric Dueweke, Lecturer in Urban Planning, University of Michigan)
  • 4:30 - 6:00pm: Group Activity: Understanding How We Communicate (Sylwia Vargas)
  • 6:30 - 7:30pm: Wash & Learn: Service Learning with Libraries Without Borders and Detroit Public Library
  • 8:00 - 9:30pm: Reception with Humanity in Action Senior Fellows in Michigan

July 12

Events that Shaped the City: Detroit in 1967 and 2013

Two particular events have helped shape Detroit’s modern history –– the 1967 rebellion and the 2013 bankruptcy. We begin our study of Detroit by examining these two events, both brought deep pain and social division to Detroiters and ushered in new urban eras.The rebellion began on July 23, 1967, when the Detroit Police raided a drinking club at 12th Street and Clairmount Avenue where 80 African Americans were celebrating the return of two GIs. After five days, 43 people were dead – 10 whites and 33 African Americans, most of whom were killed by the police. The first part of our fellowship examines how far Detroit has progressed –– or regressed –– on the city’s deep racial inequities that were among the causes of the rebellion as outlined in the 1968 Kerner Report. The second event is Detroit’s bankruptcy. On July 18, 2013, Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy. We will investigate the history of Detroit’s economic downfall, including its fleeing tax base, pension debt and municipal mismanagement. We will also explore the city’s exit from bankruptcy –– considered by some to be a miracle and others to be unjust –– and the pivotal role of philanthropies and the Detroit Institute of Arts in the bankruptcy’s “Grand Bargain.” An understanding of the bankruptcy will inform our study of the city’s prospects for inclusive economic growth in Part II of the Fellowship.

  • 9:00 - 10:30am: Breakfast, "Bring an Object" and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 11:00 - 11:30pm: Introduction to the Detroit Metropolitan Area, Communities Study (Elisabeth Gerber, Professor, University of Michigan)
  • 12:00 - 1:00pm: 1967: The Detroit Rebellion (Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian, Professor of History at the University of Michigan)
  • 1:00 - 2:00pm: Group Lunch and Detroit in Film: Perceptions of the City
  • 2:00 - 2:45pm: Action Projects 101 (Introduction to the Action Projects) (Sylwia Vargas)
  • 2:45 - 3:45pm: Discussion on Group Expectations
  • 4:00 - 5:30pm:2013/2014: The Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Grand Bargain (Nathan Bomey, Business Reporter, USA Today; author, Detroit Resurrected)
  • 6:30 - 9:30pm: Concert of Colors Forum on Community, Culture and Race: "State Violence, Trauma and Healing through Art"

July 13

Housing in Detroit

In 1968, the Kerner Commission Report decried the discrimination faced by African Americans in Detroit, Newark and other cities. The Commission remarked that blacks paid more for housing of lower quality than whites and that they were barred from many neighborhoods. Fifty years later, we will examine Detroit’s current housing issues – including tax foreclosure, eviction, affordable housing and abandoned housing stock – to understand where Detroit stands today on the inequities in housing identified in the 1968 report. We will begin our study of housing with a critical historical discussion about the federal government’s role in administering the racist housing policies that have shaped Detroit and much of urban and suburban America. We will also meet with one of Detroit’s leading real estate developers who is pushing for inclusive development that benefits marginalized Detroiters and the city’s neighborhoods. Our first day on housing will end at one of the area’s great homes – the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe – which plays host to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s special summer series.

  • 9:15am - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00 - 11:15am: The Color of Law - Segregation, Housing and the American City (Richard Rothstein, Distinguished Fellows, Economic Policy Institute)
  • 11:15am - 12:00pm: Group Discussion I (Sylwia Vargas and Emma Yip)
  • 2:00 - 3:30pm: Affordable Housing, Foreclosures and Eviction in Detroit (Michele Oberholtzer, Director of Tax Foreclosure and Prevention Project, United Community Housing Coalition)
  • 4:00 - 5:00pm: Inclusive Development in Detroit (Peter Cummings, Executive Chairman, The Platform)
  • 5:00 - 6:00pm: Fellow Presentation I and II
  • 8:00 - 9:30pm: Detroit Symphony Orchestra at the Ford House - Hollywood Night

July 14

Service Learning
  • 11:30am - 1:30pm: Wash & Learn, Service Learning with Libraries Without Borders and Detroit Public Library
  • 11:00am - 4:00pm: Prison Creative Arts Project, Service Learning
  • 11:00am - 4:00pm: Mosiac Installation with artist Hubert Massey
  • 2:00 - 4:00pm: Visit at The Motown Museum
  • 3:00 - 4:00pm: Film Screening: Revolution '67, Film about the 1967 rebellion in Newark

July 15

Day Off

All events are optional

  • 10:00am: Church Service
  • 12:00pm: Discussion on the Black Church and Activist in Detroit
  • 1:00 - 6:00pm: Detroit Kite Festival
  • 1:00 - 4:00pm: Detroit Festival of Books
  • 3:00 - 5:00pm: Detroit Youth Poetry Slam
  • 4:30 - 6:00pm: Sin Paredes: #Resistencia, Free event as part of the Concert of Colors
  • 4:30 - 6:30pm: Film Screening - Rumble: The Indians who Rocked the World, Free event as part of the Concert of Colors

July 16

Housing in Detroit

Housing is an element in the larger framework of long term stability, growth, and progress towards equity, inclusion, and justice in the city of Detroit. We would be remiss not to observe the complexities of land ownership and the housing market aside from broader issues that Detroit residents are facing. We will explore avenues for building and providing access to sustainable housing in Detroit and the challenges that exist to providing affordable housing in a city with such widespread poverty, blight and demolition. We will also embark on a journey to a neighborhood experiencing a tremendous amount of investment from a variety of stakeholders. We will also discuss the opportunities that exist for residents to play an active role in the development of their neighborhoods. Two questions to consider today –– How is housing a unique element of Detroit’s fabric, and what challenges exist when attempting to define what “affordable” means?

  • 9:15 - 9:45am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 9:45am - 11:00am: Action Project Workshop I (...And Action! Getting to Know the Fellows' Action Project Ideas) (Sylwia Vargas)
  • 11:30am - 12:30pm: Visit to the Motown Movement (Tiffany Clein, Acquistion Manager, Motown Movement; Tirza Izelaar, Community Manager, Mowtown Movement)
  • 1:00 - 2:30pm: The City's Vision for Affordable Housing (Arthur Jemison, Chief of Services and Infrastructure, City of Detroit)
  • 2:45 - 3:30pm: Group lunch with Michelle Bolofer (Executive Director, Century Forward), India Solomon (Fellow, Century Partners) and Caitlin Murphy (Civic Commons Coordinator, Live6 Alliance)
  • 3:30 - 5:00pm: The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project (Michelle Bolofer, India Solomon, Caitlin Murphy)
  • 5:00 - 6:00pm: Visit to Ella Fitzgerald Park with Caitlin Murphy
  • 6:30 - 7:30pm: Fellow Presentations III and IV
  • 8:30 - 10:00pm: Dinner and Mental Floss Discussion I - Money (optional)

July 17

Public Education

“If existing disadvantages are not to be perpetuated, we must drastically improve the quality of ghetto education,” wrote the members of the Kerner Commission in 1968. Fifty years later, Detroit’s public schools are still in crisis. The Detroit Free Press reported that in 2017 “4% of Detroit students scored at or above proficient” on fourth- grade math, compared to 40% nationally. In investigating the state of public education, we will meet with a veteran journalist who has covered Detroit Public Schools and charter schools. We will then learn about new models for fighting educational inequalities in Detroit, particularly the Square-Mile Project, with an educator. The ability of higher education institutions of higher education to help mediate the inequalities of U.S. and Detroit public education will be the subject of our evening discussion with a longtime leader in higher education, philanthropy and the head of new center at the University of Michigan focused on diversity and other critical social issues.

  • 9:30 - 10:00am: Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00 - 11:30am: The Crisis of Public Education in Detroit (Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Reporter, Bridge Magazine)
  • 1:0 - 2:00pm: Group Discussion II
  • 2:15 - 3:30pm: Fighting Inequities in Public Education in Detroit (Kwame Simmons, Director of Education and Strategist, Hantz Foundation)
  • 4:00 - 5:30pm: Discussion with Earl Lewis (Director, Center for Social Solutions, University of Michigan)
  • 6:00 - 7:30pm: Joan Belgrave in Concert, Java and Jazz Series (optional)

July 18

Education & the Role of Civic Institutions

After our examination of Detroit's public school system, we will explore the role of civic and cultural organizations in helping to address the great disparities in Detroit's public education systen. The Detroit Institute of Arts - home of one of the nation's most celebrated collections - is our first stop. We will view the monumental Diego Rivera murals, which depict automotive industry and labor, and the DIA's collection of African American art. We will meet with institutional leaders and educational specialists from four of the city;s major institutions - the DIA, the Michigan Science Center, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan Opera Theatre - to zero in on arts and scientific education in Detroit.

  • 9:15 - 9:45am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 9:45 - 10:45am: Labor and Industry in 1930s Detroit, Gallery Focus: Rivera Court
  • 11:00am - 12:15pm: General Motors Center for African American Art, Gallery Focus
  • 1:00 - 2:15pm: The Community Impact of Arts Institutions in Detroit (Anne Parsons, President and CEO, Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Salvador Salort-Pons, Director, President and CEO, Detroit Institute of Arts; Wayne S. Brown, President and CEO, Michigan Opera Theatre)
  • 2:15 - 3:00pm: The Cultural Passport Program with Detroit Public Schools (Debra Kang, Education Manager, Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Andrea Scobie, Manager of Education and Community Programs, Michigan Opera Theatre; Teri John, Director, Education Programs, Detroit Institute of Art)
  • 3:30 - 5:30pm: Visit to the Science Center
  • 5:30 - 6:30pm: Group Discussion III
  • 6:00 - 8:00pm: Parlor Talk - Preserving Space for Culture (Lauren Hood) (optional)

July 19

Employment and the Future of Work
With the unemployment rate sitting at around 22% in Detroit, compared to about a 13% unemployment rate in Wayne County and a 9% unemployment rate in the state of Michigan, employment and workforce development are major concerns when evaluating the present, and future, of the city of Detroit. We will explore workforce development in the city, the availability of jobs in the city, the challenge of identifying skilled workers, the attractiveness of the “creative class” and how unemployment knits itself into a larger web of access to opportunity, health care, education, and housing. We will then visit with Cass Community Social Services to learn more about their framework for providing workforce development opportunities to Detroit residents while understanding the value of a comprehensive social services approach. We will end the day engaging with ideas around how artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are already impacting the way in which we see, value and approach work. We will also consider what automation means for Southeast Michigan’s rapidly changing local labor market, which had once developed from low-skill, high-paying factory jobs. A question to consider today –– how is AI already changing the jobs and services around you?
  • 9:15 - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00 - 11:00am: Group Discussion IV
  • 11:00 - 11:30am: Fellow Presentation V
  • 11:30am - 12:30pm: New Jobs in the City: Business and Workforce Development (John Gallagher, Senior Business Reporter, Detroit Free Press)
  • 12:30 - 1:00pm: Fellow Presentation VI and VII
  • 2:30 - 4:00pm: Cass Community Social Services (Rev. Faith Fowler, Executive Director, Cass Community Social Services)
  • 4:30pm - 5:30pm: Automation and the Future of Work (Jeffrey Brown, Manager, Future of Work & Artificial Intelligence, Bertelsmann Foundation North America)
  • 6:00 - 7:30pm: Detroit: A Tale of Two Cities( Peter Werbe and Harvey Ovshinsky) (optional)
  • 8:30 - 10:00pm: Dinner and Mental Floss Discussion II - Race (optional)

July 20

Employment, Transportation and Healthcare
Detroit, affectionately known as “Motown”, a portmanteau of motor and town, is the largest American city without some form of a commuter rail service. The larger region is the largest metropolitan economy without regional transit. The lack of public transit undermines the ability of residents to access job hubs and health services and limits the region’s ability to attract new business, such as Amazon. We will spend this day examining the ways in which access to transportation influences the employment and health of Detroiters. In the morning, we will discuss recent campaigns for regional transit with some of the key players behind those plans. In the afternoon, we will take part in an experiential learning exercise across several neighborhoods about disparities in health and transportation access in Detroit.
  • 9:15 - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00 - 11:15am: The Politics of Regional Transit in Southeast Michigan (Elisabeth Gerber, Professor, University of Michigan, Vice Chair, Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan; Laura J. Trudeau, Principal, Trudeau Consulting; and Ruth Johnson, nonprofit consultant and social justice advocate)(moderated by Sharon Villagran, Humanity in Action Senior Fellow, Graduate Student, Princeton University)
  • 2:30 - 4:30pm: Disparities in the D: Experiential Learning on Health and Transportation Access (Asha Shajahan, Medical Director, Community Health, Beaumont Hospital-Grosse Pointe)
  • 4:30 - 5:30pm: Discussion (Judith Goldstein, Founder and Executive Director, Humanity in Action)
  • 5:45 - 6:45pm: Action Project Workshop II (Brave New World. How to Set Your Goals Correctly) (Sylwia Vargas)
  • 6:45 - 7:15pm: Fellow Presentation VIII
  • 8:30 - 10:00pm: Group Dinner

July 21

Service Learning
  • 9:00am - 12:00pm: United Community Housing Coalition, Service Learning
  • 9:00am - 12:00pm: Cass Community Social Services, Service Learning
  • 11:00am - 12:00pm: Tour of The Heidelberg Project and Q&A with artist Tyree Guyton, by Detroit Art Week, Inc. (optional)
  • 2:00 - 4:15pm: Film Screening: A Dangerous Idea, together with Panel Discussion
  • 4:15 - 5:00pm: Reception

July 22

Ann Arbor and Weekend Activities

Agenda in Ann Arbor:

    • 11:30am: Arrive in Ann Arbor
    • 11:30 - 1:00pm: An Outdoor Adventure at Argo Canoe Livery (optional)
    • 2:30 - 4:30pm: Art Fair

Agenda in Detroit:

    • 7:00 - 10:00pm: Rejecting Reality, Detroit Art Week, Inc. (optional)
    • 8:00 - 10:00pm: Performance of in the Heights, Detroit Actor's Theater Company (optional)

July 23

At the national level, we have witnessed the tensions between law enforcement and communities of color reach a fever pitch with headlines filled with the murders of unarmed African Americans and the protests of Black Lives Matter. We begin our examination of policing issues by considering the long history of the U.S. carceral state’s impact on communities of color, including police abuses prior to the 1967 rebellion. We will begin the day by exploring the role of an institution representing the history and present narratives of African Americans now in today’s age of Black Lives Matter. We will then examine the ways in which technology and data have enabled surveillance of marginalized Detroiters and feelings of imprisonment, criminalization and powerlessness over one’s privacy. Our conversation will turn to how police practices have changed in Detroit and how the attitudes, laws and practices concerning drug usage have evolved. We will then spend the rest of the day in collaboration to reimagine the current framework of policing and justice in the city.
  • 9:15 - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00am - 11:00am: The Mission of the Wright Museum in the Age of Black Lives Matter (Charles Ferrell, Vice-President, Public Programs, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History)
  • 11:30am - 12:30pm: The Legacy of Policing in Detroit (Jeffrey Edison, attorney)
  • 1:30 - 3:00: Technology, Data Justice, and Surveillance: Community Policing as Forfeited Privacy and Privatized Public Safety (Tawana Petty aka Honeycomb, mother, organizer, author and poet)
  • 3:00 - 4:15pm: The Opioid Epidemic and Changing Attitudes Toward Drug Treatment and Enforcement (Monique Stanton, President and CEO, Care of Southeastern Michigan)
  • 4:30 - 5:30pm: Reimagining the Criminal Justice System (Kenneth Reed, Spokesman, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality; and Rasha Almulaiki, Detroit Client Advocate, The Bail Project)
  • 5:30 - 6:30pm: Group Discussion V

July 24

Research & Report Writing
While the qualitative data we collect through observations, interviews and program sessions are important, our Collaborative Projects and Reports will be strengthened through quantitative data and an analytical approach to research. We will collaborate with Elisabeth Gerber of the University of Michigan to review and utilize findings from the Detroit Metropolitan Area Communities Study, a major research project on public opinion in Detroit. In our ResearchJam with Dr. Gerber, we will integrate key results about Detroit residents’ opinions on policing, education, employment and housing, as well as the broader and connection question of Detroit’s economic development and future. We will investigate the areas in which the data both confirms and contradicts our impressions to build out more rigorous and nuanced reports.
  • 9:15 - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00am - 12:00pm: Collaborative Projects ResearchJam with the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy (Elisabeth Gerber, Professor, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan)
  • 1:30 - 3:30pm: Collaborative Projects Check-In with Humanity in Action Staff
  • 3:30 - 5:30pm: Fellow Presentations IX, X, XI and XII
  • 5:30 - 6:30pm: Action Project Workshop III (Bizarro World. Dealing with Obstacles) (Sylwia Vargas)
  • 8:30 - 10:00pm: Dinner and Mental Floss Discussion III - Blackness (optional)

July 25

Flint and Detroit: Parallel Cities in Michigan
The story of the development of Flint, Michigan, is not wholly unlike the story of Detroit. In 1908, former Buick automobile manager William C. Durant established General Motors and opened the company's headquarters in Flint. The city’s prosperous automotive industry attracted other entrepreneurs, including Louis Chevrolet of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company, and later brought workers from around the world seeking opportunity. As the city developed, it grew divided along stark racial, ethnic and economic lines. In the late 20th century, GM and other employers cut tens of thousands of jobs and the city’s population fell by nearly half to about 100,000. The crisis of lead-contaminated water began in 2014 and continues to be a major human rights issue. ¶ We are visiting Flint to study the important stories of Flint’s economic and environmental crises, which in certain respects parallel experiences in Detroit. In our day hosted by the Mott Foundation, we will learn about the origins of the water crisis, public health disparities and economic and community development in Flint.
  • 8:40am: Departure for Flint, Michigan
  • 10:00 - 11:30am: The Origins and Politics of the Flint Water Crisis (Anna Clark, author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy; and Curt Guyette, Investigative Reporter, ACLU of Michigan)
  • 1:45am - 12:45pm: The Water Crisis, Health Inequalities and Public Policy Responses in Flint (Debra Furr-Holden, C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University)
  • 2:00 - 3:00pm: The Structural Challenges of Economic Development in Flint
  • 3:00 - 4:00pm: Discussion on Parallels in Urban Redevelopment and Housing in Detroit and Flint
  • 4:15 - 5:15pm: Group Discussion VI
  • 9:00 - 11:30pm: Screening: I'm Not Your Negro (optional)

July 26

Reimagining the City
After investigating the challenges that inequalities in education, employment, housing and policing pose for Detroit’s just future, we turn to exchanges with the people, organizations and ideas that are working to address these issues with innovative and inclusive solutions. We begin by thinking big. The Detroit Future City plan, a 50-year plan for city stakeholders and residents, has guided many development and policy discussions since its release in 2014. Quicken Loans, the finance and technology giant, has been a major player at the decision-making table in the midst of rapid redevelopment in Detroit. We will explore the varying interests, strategies and investments of these two organizations and the City Planning Department to inform our analysis of the city’s prospects for an equitable, just and sustainable economic future.
  • 9:15 - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00 - 11:00am: Action Project Workshop IV (Who You Gonna Call? Allies and Partners) (Sylwia Vargas)
  • 11:00 - 11:30am: Group Discussion VII: Plans for an Equitable and Just Future
  • 1:00 - 3:00pm: Planning for Detroit’s Future (Panel with Anika Goss-Foster, Executive Director, Detroit Future City)
  • 3:30 - 4:30pm: Quicken Loans' Role in Housing and Neighborhood Development in Detroit's Modern Renaissance (Alex Alsup, Director of Housing Stability, Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund)
  • 4:30 - 5:30pm: Fellow Presentations XIII and XIV
  • 8:30 - 10:00pm: Dinner and Mental Floss Discussion IV - Sex/Gender/Identity (optional)

July 27

The Latinx Community in Southwest Detroit

In broadening our investigation of inequality, development and opportunity in Detroit beyond simply the black/white divide, we look to the city and region’s rich and important cultural diversity. We begin in Southwest Detroit, home to Mexican Town and numerous Detroiters of Latinx descent. We will discuss how Detroit’s brown communities, particularly Latinx people, are impacted today by the inequities outlined in the Kerner Report, as well as the impact of the city’s economic development initiatives in Corktown and in other communities of color. On Saturday, we will continue the conversation by visiting Dearborn, home to one of the largest communities of people of Middle Eastern descent outside of the Middle East.

  • 9:15 - 9:45am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 9:45 - 10:00am: Welcome Remarks (Raymond Lozano, Executive Director, Mexicantown Community Development Corporation)
  • 10:00am - 12:30pm: Workshop: Technological Change and the Future of Activism (Susannah Shattuck, Client Engagement Leader, IBM Watson; Humanity in Action Senior Fellow)
  • 1:30 - 2:00pm: The Latinx Community in Detroit: Roots and Cultural Impact (Osvaldo “Ozzie” Rivera, community advocate)
  • 2:00 - 3:00pm: Discussion on Disparities in Justice, Health and Opportunity for Detroit’s Brown Communities (Martina Guzmán, journalist; Osvaldo “Ozzie” Rivera)
  • 3:00 - 5:00pm: Tour and Discussion in Southwest Detroit (Osvaldo "Ozzie" Rivera)
  • 5:30 - 6:30pm: Fellow Presentations XV and XVI
  • 6:30 - 8:00pm: Group Dinner

July 28 

The Arab American Community in Dearborn

  • 9:00am - 12:00pm: Cass Community Social Services, Service Learning
  • 11:30am - 1:30pm: Wash & Learn, Service Learning with Libraries Without Borders and Detroit Public Library
  • 3:00 - 6:30pm: Visit to the Arab American National Museum (optional)

July 29

Service Learning

    • 9:00am - 12:00pm: United Community Housing Coalition, Service Learning
    • 11:00am - 4:00pm: Prison Creative Arts Project, Service Learning
    • 12:00pm: Arab and Chaldean Festival (optional)
    • 2:00 - 4:00pm: Reparations: Tribute for Queen Mother Audley Moore (optional)

July 30

Reimagining Community Cohesion

How do we work together –– across racial, class, cultural and regional divides –– to promote a just, sustainable, prosperous and diverse future? We will tackle this question by exploring community cohesion in Detroit. As the city changes, what brings residents together? What divides them? Enlarging the discussion, we will look to regionalism –– the idea that cities, counties and communities across Southeast Michigan can view one another as partners in addressing shared challenges that are larger than any single zipcode. We will also return to the Detroit Institute of Arts for the second part of our study of civic arts education in Detroit. Checking our “adult brains” at the door, we will explore the museum as children do and consider strategies for access and community engagement.

  • 9:30 - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00am - 12:00pm: Gallery Adventures: Exploring the DIA as an Elementary Student
  • 1:15 - 2:15pm: Group Discussion VIII
  • 3:00 - 4:00pm: Cultivating a Culture of Regionalism in Southeast Michigan (Mariam Noland, President, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan)
  • 4:15 - 4:45pm: Fellow Presentations XVII, XVIII, XIX
  • 5:45 - 7:00pm: Just Say Hi: Community Cohesion in a Changing Detroit (Marsha Music, author and music historian)
  • 8:30 - 10:00pm: Dinner and Mental Floss Discussion V - Belonging

July 31

Reimagining Entrepreneurship

Today, we will explore Detroit’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and understand the value of entrepreneurs in the city’s past, present and future. In addition, we will spend our time with those who are facilitating collaboration and innovation within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Detroit and are helping Detroiters transform their ideas into restaurants, nonprofits, fashion lines and other enterprises. We will speak with entrepreneurs about their stories –– how they have navigated the challenges of thriving in Detroit while also finding joy in cultivating business around passion, community and creativity. Our time will include discussions about how Detroiters are “reimagining” entrepreneurship by thinking about entrepreneurship as a path to financial independence and stability for Detroiters and how it can provide services and goods that are locally and culturally tailored. Two questions to consider today –– why are entrepreneurs essential to any city, and what value do entrepreneurs bring to a city in the midst of a “comeback”?

  • 9:15 - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00 - 10:30am: Detroit: Leading the Way on Equitable Entrepreneurship (April Boyle, Founder and Executive Director, Build Institute)
  • 10:30am - 12:30pm: Perspectives from Detroit’s Entrepreneurs (Michelle Smart, Founder, Bags to Butterflies; Paul Thomas, Founder, Plum Health; Alana Rodriguez, Founder, Mama Coo’s Boutique; and Amy Peterson, Founder, Rebel Nell)
  • 2:00 - 3:00pm: Facilitating a Culture of Collaboration and Entrepreneurship (Amanda Lewan, Co-Founder and CEO, Bamboo Detroit; April Boyle, Founder and Executive Director, Build Institute; and Matthew Piper, Zookeeper, Green Garage)
  • 3:00 - 4:00pm: Fellow Presentations XX and XXI
  • 4:00 - 5:00pm: Group Discussion IX
  • 6:00 - 6:45pm: Visit and Q&A (Roslyn Karamoko, Founder and CEO, Détroit is the New Black)

August 1

Reimagining Community Investment

What does it look like to plan for the future and invest in people, places and spaces that are occupied by predominately by black and brown bodies? How do we think about design and investment as mechanisms to facilitate culturally relevant spaces? What does “blackness” look like manifested in neighborhood development, and why does this matter in the broader discussion of redevelopment and renaissance in Detroit? How does providing a platform to invest in local artists transform the way in which we think about community investment? We will explore these questions and many more as we consider what community investment means in today’s rapidly changing Detroit. A question to consider today - what do we mean when we say “community”?

  • 9:30 - 10:00am: Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00 - 11:00am: Place + Design as Culture: Preservation of Black Space, Afrofuturism and Design Justice in Detroit (Lauren Hood, Community development professional; Ingrid LaFleur, Chief Community Officer, EOS Detroit; Anthony Askew, Small Business Program Manager, Motor City Match, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation; Damon Dickerson, architectural designer) (Moderated by Chase Cantrell, Executive Director, Building Community Value)
  • 11:00am - 12:00pm: Group Lunch
  • 12:00 - 1:00pm: Neighborhood Development in Detroit (Mike Smith, Vice President, Neighborhoods, Invest Detroit)
  • 1:15 - 1:45pm: Fellow Presentations XXII
  • 1:45 - 2:45pm: Group Discussion X
  • 2:45 - 6:00pm: Time for Collaborative Project Report Writing
  • 9:00 - 11:30pm: Screening: Dreamgirls (optional)

August 2

Reimagining Food and Health

In recent years, food production and access to healthy food in Detroit have garnered national attention. Researchers have called Detroit a “food desert,” remarking on the lack of reasonably-priced grocery stores within city limits. On the other hand, national media and urbanists have flocked to Detroit’s burgeoning urban farms to examine at the prospects for agriculture in the city’s vacant lots. Our Fellowship will explore these two related factors in Detroit and will tease out the nuances of how many Detroiters are expanding agricultural production and access to healthy foods for communities across the city. ¶ We will also visit D-Town Farms and meet with a leader who advocates for food and racial justice for Detroiters. In the evening, we will make our presentations on the New Kerner Report – what has changed, what has worsened and how Detroit can do better 50 years after the original report – with a public audience at the Charles H. Wright Museum.

  • 9:15 - 10:00am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00 - 11:00am: A Healthier City Begins with Food (Alex B. Hill, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Manager, Health Department, City of Detroit)
  • 12:00 - 1:30pm: Food Justice and Racial Justice in Detroit (Malik Yakini, Executive Director, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network)
  • 6:00 - 7:30pm: The Kerner Report: 50 Years Later presented by the Humanity in Action Fellows in Detroit - A New Kerner Report: Fellows’ Reports and Presentations on Plans for Justice and Equity in Education, Employment, Housing and Policing in Detroit in 2018 (Moderated by Jacqueline Ramsey, Senior Public Programs Coordinator, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; Humanity in Action Senior Fellow)
  • 7:30 - 8:30pm: Reception at the Wright Museum

August 3

Action Projects

Humanity in Action Fellows plan and implement Action Projects – hands-on initiatives inspired by their fellowship experiences. Action Projects give Fellows the opportunity to take what they learned during their programs and use that knowledge to address real-life issues in their own home communities. Action Projects may take many different forms, including community service, public advocacy, art projects, lectures, conferences and social entrepreneurship. ¶ During the Fellowship, we have developed plans for the projects. In the following 12 months, the Fellows will implement their projects. We devote this day to an “Action Project Charette” – presentations by each Fellow about project plans and critiques and advice from external reviewers, program staff and peer Fellows.

  • 9:15 - 9:30am: Breakfast and Introduction to the Day, Action Project Videos
  • 10:00am - 5:00pm: Action Project Charrette - Featuring external reviewers: Nathan Catey, Jim Pederson, Caitlin Murphy, Rebekka Parker, Cornetta Lane
  • 7:00 - 8:30pm: Picnic
  • 10:00pm: Drinks and Discussion (optional)
  • Evening: Ann Arbor Pride (optional)

August 4

Closing of the Fellowship 

  • 10:00am - 12:30pm: Food Justice and Entrepreneurship Tour of Detroit (Devita Davison, Executive Director, FoodLab Detroit)
  • 12:30 - 1:30pm: Lunch and Discussion (Shane Bernardo, community organizer, facilitator and trainer)
  • 12:00 - 4:00pm: Service Learning: Entire Program Works with the Michigan Roundtable and Michigan Roundtable Senior Interns for 12th Annual Backpack Giveaway
  • 4:30 - 6:00pm: Closing of the Fellowship
  • 7:30 - 9:30pm: Closing Dinner

August 4

Departures from Detroit 


The 2018 Humanity in Action Fellowship in Detroit is generously supported by the RNR Foundation, the Germeshausen Foundation, the Charles D. and Mary A. Bauer Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Knight Fund of the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. The participation of Greek Fellows in Humanity in Action Fellowship programs is generously supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.


This publication does not represent an expression of opinion by the fellowship's supporters. The authors bear responsibility for the content.