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Transforming Neighborhoods and Attitudes

Block By Block, a program of Team 313 youth development organization, is clearing trash-strewn lots and changing people’s minds about littering. However, its biggest success may be the values youth learn while keeping their neighborhoods clean.

Putting the Brakes on Bullying

End Bullying, Save Lives is a newly founded Grand Rapids nonprofit working to stop bullying. The organization’s three founders have all been victims of some form of bullying.

Fighting for Better Outcomes in Delray

Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition formed in response to plans for an international bridge development in the Delray neighborhood. Better park maintenance and a safer environment for local kids will help remedy the impact.

Hip-Hop: Unifying Detroit Youth

Hip-hop gets a bad reputation, but a look outside the mainstream, at a small but powerful program for Detroit youth, provides a whole different view.

Peggy Roberts

Power of We Consortium coordinator Peggy Roberts works to improve conditions and access to resources for Ingham, Clinton and Eaton County’s most underserved populations – with social justice, equity and sustainability always at the forefront. 

Frank McGhee

As the leader of Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiative Project (YIP), Frank McGhee sees the potential of young people from some very tough neighborhoods; he guides them through the process of addressing issues that trouble their community, and they grow as leaders along the way. 

Kayla Mason

Raised in South Central Los Angeles, a low-income community where youth face many challenges to success, Kayla Mason found her voice at the young age of 15 advocating for improvements in schools and in the community. While the path to get here has been laced with many organizing victories, she is mighty fired up about her role as director of YOUTH VOICE, an organization of Detroit youth who tackle political and social issues to create change. Mason has even developed her own trademarked model to help youth become agents of change in their own life and in their community. 

Jen Rusciano

When Jennifer Rusciano was in fourth grade, she explored the origins of her favorite chocolate bar, connecting it to cocoa farms in Ghana. Years later, a college fellowship led her to live and work in small-scale cocoa farming communities around the world, exploring the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. After that, she joined FoodCorps in Michigan for two years, and eventually helped develop Detroit Food Academy, where she currently serves as executive director of operations. 

Rachel Klegon

Rachel Klegon, executive director of Green Living Science, provides a blueprint for Detroit schools to teach scientific concepts to students within an environmental framework. She sees kids and families take ownership of their behaviors and use their newly learned green knowledge to do what is right for their households, neighborhoods, and the greater community. 

Michael W. Hamm

Michael W. Hamm, director of the MSU Center for Regional Food System, and his staff are devoted to the good health and development of all Michigan youth. The center’s creative programs and initiatives, like Michigan Good Food and Hoophouses for Health, are helping to ensure that more children have balanced, produce-rich diets. 

Barbara Israel and Ricardo Guzman

Shared commitment and shared leadership at the Detroit Urban Research Center between director Barbara Israel, board member Ricardo Guzman, and others has helped this organization effectively address community health issues for 18 years. The Detroit URC conducts research and implements programs and policy strategies to reduce health inequities and improve health in Detroit neighborhoods. 

Anji Phillips

Many vulnerable kids and their families need help, and Anji Phillips is dedicated to helping them. As executive director of the Coordinating Council of Calhoun County, Phillips leads with passion and fights for the rights of the underserved, the unseen, and the unrecognized with a team of strong child advocates beside her.

Ethan Lowenstein

Ethan Lowenstein, director of the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS) in Ypsilanti, believes that future environmental stewards first need to understand cultural attitudes toward nature. Once understood, kids can build appreciation and respect for the environment – and learn how to take personal and community responsibility for the eco-system where we all live. 

Ponsella Hardaway

MOSES Executive Director Ponsella Hardaway believes in the power of community organizing to change things for the better; not just lip service, but real, honest, open dialogue between people to find common cause. It’s sometimes difficult and uncomfortable, but she says it’s the only way to make real change. 

Anan Ameri

Anan Ameri is founding director of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, but she doesn’t want the museum to be seen as only for and about Arab-Americans. It’s a point of pride that the museum has become a resource for multi-cultural programming, helping to overcome segregation in metro Detroit.

Norman Bent

After two decades as an administrator at Wayne State University, Norman Bent decided to take a year sabbatical. But he wasn’t idle for long. Through his involvement in southwest Detroit’s Latino community, he was soon tapped to lead the Consortium of Hispanic Agencies, and a new career was born.

Penny Bailer

City Year Detroit’s Executive Director, Penny Bailer, is a 37-year resident of Detroit with a firm grasp on the vital need for education improvement in Detroit. With a zest that is rare and unmistakable, Bailer oversees the many mentoring, educational, and enrichment programs that City Year offers to the city’s underserved youth.

Laura Hughes

Executive Director Laura Hughes measures her work at the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park not just by the numbers, but by the spark of belief that youth have in themselves – a belief that was likely extinguished until they walked through the doors of the Ruth Ellis Center.  

Cheryl Simon

Cheryl Simon gained her wisdom and knowledge from years in Detroit’s nonprofit sector before taking on the coordinating role with Detroit Food Policy Council, a group shaping food policy and championing a more just and environmentally conscious local food system. She invites those most impacted by food policy to the table to partake in both the discussion and the decisions. 

Malik Yakini

In 2006, Malik Yakini organized a meeting of about 40 people to discuss food security issues; at that meeting, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network was born. Yakini recently won a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award for his work to ensure social justice, food equity, and food security for the people of Detroit.

Minsu Longariu

Minsu Longariu, executive director of the Restaurant Opportunity Center of Michigan, believes in the power of people coming together to create change. Whether that happens around a restaurant table or in a community meeting, Longariu says that working together is the best way to overcome big challenges.

Susan Reed

Supervising attorney Susan Reed is inspired by the strength and resiliency of her clients at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. The center is creating a more equal future for all children and building a base of support for immigrants in the communities where they live. 

Thomas Costello

Inspired by his Jesuit education and the Jesuit philosophy of service to others -- and deeply committed to a more just and inclusive world -- Thomas Costello ditched the private sector in 2008 to become president of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

Lisa Mitchell

Working to end racism, Lisa Mitchell, executive director of Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism (GRACE), brings workshops and assessment programs to educational, nonprofit and workplace settings through a program called Partners for a Racism-Free Community.
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