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Humanity in Action's 2019 Detroit Fellowship



From November 15 – 24, 2019, Humanity in Action hosted 20 Fellows from around the world as part of the third and newly-designed 2019 Detroit Fellowship program. Humanity in Action established the Detroit Fellowship in 2017 to support the development of a network of emerging leaders in Detroit who are deeply committed to an equitable future for the city. 

The 2019 Detroit Fellowship explored many critical issues in urban redevelopment such as housing, education, transportation, food, public health, entrepreneurship and more.

Pursuing the same goal, the 2019 Detroit Fellowship program focused on bringing together professionals of diverse disciplines and countries to learn from and contribute to the community-centered urban redevelopment of Detroit’s neighborhoods. The intensive program explored many critical issues in urban redevelopment such as housing, education, transportation, food, public health, entrepreneurship and more.

Over 10 days, the program paired theoretical learning with practical contributions to the redevelopment efforts in the city. Fellows worked in groups of five with one of this year’s four community partner organizations. Additionally, the Fellows came together for discussions, lectures, and site visit-based examinations of development work throughout the city. Humanity in Action is delighted to share the program booklet of the 2019 Detroit Fellowship

This year’s program focused on a number of neighborhoods that have yet to get the attention of recent development efforts in Detroit. Together with our community partner organizations, our Fellows worked on:

  • Developing a community engagement campaign and planning a new food pantry and community space to service the Tuxedo street neighborhood; 
  • Interviewing community members and engaging in market research to inform the designs for a housing development for seniors and aged out of foster care youth in the Virginia Park area;
  • Providing recommendations for the next steps of a facade improvement program for the McNichols and Livernois retail corridors;
  • Designing the architectural, financial and sustainability plan for the revitalization of an eco-friendly industrial lot in the Beltline district.
  • A Detroit mural, saying "Nothing Stops Detroit"
  • Fellows during a break
  • some of the 2019 Detroit Fellows gathered
  • Fellows on a site excursion in Virginia Parks
  • Detroit Fellowship Directors: Yael Herskovits, Caitlin Murphy and Tosin Agbabiaka
  • Final Presentation
  • 2019 Detroit Fellowship Group Picture

By the end of the program, the Fellows of the 2019 Detroit Program positively contributed to mission-critical work of these Detroit-based community organizations and, in some cases, will continue working with these organizations beyond the program. In so doing, the Fellows gained a nuanced understanding of Detroit’s rich history and insights into the numerous, complex perspectives on how redevelopment of some of its neighborhoods should be executed. Finally, they gained opportunities for collaboration and friendships with fellow practitioners of numerous disciplines related to urban development, from Detroit and other parts of the world. As they embark on implementing Action Projects in their native contexts—Detroit and beyond—we look forward to hearing more about how this experience influences this work. 

We extend our utmost gratitude to the following speakers and partner organizations for sharing their time, wisdom and knowledge:


The Detroit Fellowship has been made possible through the generous support of:

We thank these funders for believing that Humanity in Action can make a meaningful contribution to Detroit.