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Programs

FATE


FATE is a series of monthly workshops in which students of Detroit’s Jalen Rose Leadership Academy travel to Ann Arbor to be immersed in a collegiate environment and to be exposed to new experiences. Students who successfully complete the four-year program will be given college scholarships.
Michigan Nightlight: Tell us briefly about your program in terms of it purpose and who it serves.
Give Merit Executive Director Kuhu Saha: FATE provides sufficient resources and opportunities for underserved youth to embrace education and become world-class citizens. It is built around the following guiding principles: academic enrichment, social and cultural awareness, career development, and student mentorship. We know that various social circumstances can affect a student's educational development. Our goal is to ultimately expose our students to an institution of higher education and motivate them by partnering with different community, university, and corporate entities to facilitate engaging and interactive workshops. 
 
What really differentiates this program?
Number one is youth! The oldest person in our organization is 26. We've found that our ability to relate to our students has a profound impact on relationship building. Number two, our workshops, which are interactive, engaging and detailed. These are once-in-a-lifetime experiences designed with partners such as Zingerman's, UM Challenge Program, Menlo Innovations, Global Hue, Treehouse and more. Number three, long-term impact: when participants meet GPA, attendance, conduct, and
Our ability to deliver the highest quality programming comes from ongoing interaction with our financial and community partners – generous, caring, and creative individuals giving of their time and expertise to truly shape our curriculum.
community service standards, it will result in work opportunities, college prep, and a college scholarship. By participating in the program, students will be more likely to improve in-school performance and conduct, graduate, and pursue a degree.
 
What are the keys to success for your program?
Partnerships and people. Our ability to sustain and impact our youth starts with our partnership with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and is maintained because of our relationships with the dedicated parents and students. Their commitment is what allows us to continue striving for our desired outcomes: high school graduation, college acceptance, community service, and civic engagement. Our ability to deliver the highest quality programming comes from ongoing interaction with our financial and community partners – generous, caring, and creative individuals giving of their time and expertise to truly shape our curriculum. This program isn’t possible without people like Zingerman’s Robby Griswold who, starting six months out, engaged in the planning process for what a February workshop would look like, and then follows through with an amazing workshop filled with great food and incredible personal visions.
 
What existing challenges remain with this program and how do you plan to overcome them?
Practically speaking, program funding is a big challenge. The program is young; we are in our first year of official operation, and while we have been blessed to receive support that’s allowed us to kick off in an awesome fashion, we still have work to do. It’s an ongoing job to continue seeking and securing funds so that FATE continues to improve over years two, three, and four. The University of Michigan School of Social Work’s Curtis Center will help us in this effort; they are beginning program evaluation work and will deliver first-year results this summer.
 
Aside from that, the really fun challenge for us is delivering the most interesting and interactive content for our students. We’re always asking, “How are we going to make this fun…and cool, and something they’re going to get excited about?” We know that each student is interested in different things, but how do we work our hardest to stimulate and engage them with something they wouldn’t obviously be excited about? That’s a challenge we love.
 
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
The best lesson: remain persistent. Our passion, our drive, and our excitement are here to stay. Through a short pilot and
...the really fun challenge for us is delivering the most interesting and interactive content for our students. We’re always asking, "How are we going to make this fun…and cool, and something they’re going to get excited about?"
almost two years of planning, we were able to launch FATE in full partnership with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. Perseverance was key. Remaining faithful to the vision, the content, and most importantly to the future impact, and continuing to be aware of why we were pursuing this, helped us maintain that forward momentum.
 
How do you innovate programming? Where do the ideas come from? How do you know if they are going to work?
In our planning stages, we spent a great deal of time seeking knowledge from others in the field, and meeting with organizations and people that we now call our community partners. For example, a few meetings with the Center for Educational Outreach at U of M gave us tools to outline a program map: goals, objectives, potential activities, and desired outcomes for each of FATE’s guiding principles. With these in place, we could look creatively at a four-year arc of programming that fed into our principles. And now, when we sit down with a community partner to plan a workshop, we can refer to our guiding principles and our program map, and work together to answer, “What does the partner do best? Which of those things fit our map? How will we make it interactive and exciting?” We have ideas galore, with a standard in place that helps us measure how and why they are going to work. 
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Person Profile

  • Kuhu Saha
    Building confidence, inspiring dreams

Organization

  • Give Merit
    Give Merit’s mission is to provide sufficient resources and opportunities for underserved youth to embrace education and become world-class citizens. 

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