DETROIT (WWJ) — The young professionals program Challenge Detroit has selected its second cohort of 33 Fellows, people who will spend a year working, living, playing and serving in the city of Detroit.

The 22 women and 11 men were selected from a field of more than 700 applicants. Sixty percent of them are from Michigan, while 40 percent hail from elsewhere, including New Jersey, Ohio, Alabama, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Georgia, Oregon and Colorado, as well as Canada and China.

Dierdre Green Groves, the program’s executive director, said the experience of the first year of the program was that its participants want to stay in Detroit after their year-long employment experiences ended. And that’s the point.

“We hope that that’s the case in our first year, in our second year and in years to come, that this program introduces our fellows to what makes Detroit so special, that they find great job opportunities, and that they fall in love with Detroit,” she said. “That is our goal.”

The second cohort earned its place in Challenge Detroit through professional interviews and a public online competition.

Seventy-nine percent of them have bachelor’s degrees, while 21 percent have advanced degrees.

Michigan schools represented in the group include the College for Creative Studies, Ferris State University, Kalamazoo College, Lawrence Technological University, Michigan State University, Oakland University, the University of Detroit Mercy, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

Out of state schools represented include Brigham Young University, College of Charleston, Denison University, Emory University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Northwestern University, Ohio University, the University of Colorado, the University of North Carolina, the University of Southern California, the University of Washington, Wellesley College and Wesleyan University.

Their fields of study run the gamut, and include political science, language, the arts, the environment, criminology, sociology, advertising, public policy, communications, history, mathematics, philosophy, hospitality, global media, real estate, health, science, economics, international relations, architecture, urban planning, accounting, business, marketing and human resource management.

Participants’ prior experience includes internships and jobs with a wide variety of organizations, including CBS Detroit, Chrysler, CNN, General Motors, Intel, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., NBC Universal, the Smithsonian museums, and the federal government. Others have been engaged in policy and community development work for nonprofits like AmeriCorps, City Year, the Detroit Works Project, the Henry Ford, Teach for America, the Urban Land Institute and the YMCA. Some participants are also already veteran entrepreneurs.

Participants receive living space in the city and a job for a year at a Detroit business. They also participate in group team-building and service projects, addressing regional challenges and opportunities, including multi-modal transportation, homelessness, and community development. The 33 Challenge Detroit host companies include the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Lions, Macro Connect, General Motors and CBS Detroit.

Some of the fellows who will be joining Challenge Detroit this year include:
• Miguel Davis, who is wrapping up two years working for Teach for America in Mississippi and will be coming to Detroit to work with Macro Connect;
• Brandi Keeler, a current Detroit resident and marketing art director with an interest in local non-profits, will spend the year working for United Way for Southeastern Michigan;
• Meiyi Cheng, born in China and now living in Connecticut, will come to Detroit to work in product development at Mango Languages; and
• Carlos Spearman, a Wayne State University graduate and mentor, will work at United Shore Financial Services, while making an impact on Detroit.

“I was born and raised in Detroit, and I know that many of the things outsiders highlight as flaws in this city are the very things that motivate and inspire us to be visionary problem solvers,” said year two fellow Brandi Keeler. “I am thrilled to participate in year two of Challenge Detroit and to be a part of the inspiring changes happening in Detroit.”

During their year in Detroit, participants will share their stories through regular blogging, video logging and social media updates. Challenge Detroit year two begins Aug. 26.  For more information and to meet all of the year two Fellows — or, if you’d like to hire a Challenge Detroit participant in a future year, or if you’d like to be considered for next year’s cohort of participants — visit


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