A year of gifts

During this season of gratitude, we want to lift up the people and partners who have supported our work over the past year. Everything we accomplish is done in partnership with others.

The Racial Justice Project

We are so proud to have received a Youth Leadership Grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. We are grateful to the Youth Advisory Committee who believed in our Racial Justice Project and allowed 10 youth to create a social media campaign highlighting how we can interrupt bias.

The Racial Justice Project launched in February 2021 with this support. As our first afterschool program, we needed help getting the word out to Detroit teens. We could not have done it without the support of Josie Whelan, who, as our Board Fellow from the Business + Impact Program at University of Michigan, went above and beyond to spread the word about the program. Scott Conwell at Communication and Media Arts High School (CMA) was an early supporter and recruiter. Scott Conwell supports a youth-led group at CMA called We Are The Change.

Welcoming Benjamin Williams

Our biggest milestone this year is hiring our first program staff! Benjamin Williams (Ben Will) has been working with us since July and is already making an impact on the youth we serve and extending our community to include guests to our program and partners like Mosaic Youth Theater. We are so grateful to the Skillman Foundation for providing the support that allows Ben to lead our Youth-Led Research Program.

Grow Detroit’s Young Talent

We were able to launch a summer program this year, in partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT). We are so grateful to GDYT for their support and guidance on running programs during a pandemic. GDYT is such a tremendous resource for Detroit youth, and we are lucky to work in partnership with them.

Youth Driven Funding

We were honored again in June when we were granted funding from a second youth-led grant program: Generator Z. Generator Z is driven by teens and powered by Lakeshore Connections with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. This funding supports our first year-long after-school program. Our afterschool program allows youth to work on a research project while learning job readiness skills, all while earning a monthly stipend. We are so grateful to Generator Z and the teens who recommended our project for funding.

Mental Health and Wellness

The theme of our afterschool program is Mental Health and Wellness. In order to provide added for support for our group as we navigate this important topic, Ben invited Alicia Jackson LPC, to join us on a monthly basis to help us build our vocabulary, knowledge about coping strategies, and skills like active listening. We are so grateful to have her support.

Mosaic Youth Theater

We are lucky to have friends like Mosaic Youth Theater who allow us to meet in their space! While our Youth-Led Research Program is online, meeting at the Mosaic Youth Theater allows us to connect in person once a month. Thank you so much to DeLashea Strawder and her team!

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This year we launched a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) process, starting with a training for our Board of Directors, led by Courtney Bryant, a doctoral candidate in Organizational Psychology at Michigan State University. We are grateful to Courtney for sharing her expertise and to the youth from our leadership council, LWA (Leaders With Action), who provided input. We are hopeful to share our DEI statement and plan in the Spring.

Annual Fundraiser

Our (virtual) annual fundraiser was such a success this year! We are so grateful to our many supporters who helped us raise over $11K. We especially want to recognize the 32 new supporters who are getting to know our work for the first time and Detroit Windsor Tunnel for their continued support. Thank you to everyone who participated this year.

So many people and organizations contribute to this work and give us so many reasons to be thankful. Thank you so much for supporting young Detroiters!

Post High School Workshop

Eight youth—called Young Advocates—from our summer Youth-Led Research Program investigated “What teens can do to prepare themselves for life on their own.”

They found that most college students and adults wish they had been better prepared to handle financial matters as a teen. As a result, Young Advocates have designed a workshop to teach other teens financial literacy and college readiness skills. This two-day workshop will take place in December.


High school students can sign-up for the Post High School Workshop by clicking here.


Local Research, Local Stereotypes, Local Circles

Over the summer, Local Circles, in partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, hired ten teens to explore social topics through interactions with the community. Dream 10, as we named ourselves, used surveys, interviews and focus groups to gather factual evidence to our research question, “In what ways does racial stereotyping affect African-American teens?” When we were originally asked to decide on a particular issue within the community that involved teens we thought about exploring different topics. As a group we had to brainstorm a list of topics to research, but we agreed on the one issue that impacts Detroit’s youth more than they know, which is none other than racial stereotyping. Through this program, we not only learned how to conduct ourselves in the workplace, but we completed a project that will make the citizens of Detroit more aware of the social environment in which they live.

Each research method required different skills to acquire accurate data. The short survey we had our participants fill out consisted of 6 simple questions which were based on place, reaction and impact. During each of the interviews the participants were interviewed based on knowledge, perspective, and experience. Our last method was the focus groups which consisted of a group of teens relating to each other through their personal experiences with racial stereotyping.

Through each of these methods we learned that 54% of teens that we surveyed said stereotyping takes place in school. Not everyone in our research was racially stereotyped, but for the ones who were the most common response was to walk away (46% of participants). Their reason for this response was to ensure safety and to not escalate the conflict. Eighty-eight percent (88%) agreed racial stereotypes impacts teens self-esteem. Stereotypes such as beauty standards are damaging to the views of youth. One of our participants said, “It can change your views of what’s beautiful and what’s not beautiful.” Educating people of the mental trauma of racial stereotyping is a tactic in fixing the issue of negative social interactions.

In the near future, our group’s goal is to present our project to the youth that participated in the research methods. An action committee will be formed relating to learning ways of dealing with racial stereotyping, understanding the impacts of stereotyping and educating others. Local Circles plans to continue to work hard and push further and to promote social change throughout our community.