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Challenge Detroit on a search for the best and brightest to come to Detroit to live, work play and give

Downtown Detroit Skyline from Rencen

Challenge Detroit is again launching its quest to find 30 innovative leaders from across the Detroit region and the US to live, work, play, give and lead in Detroit for one year.

Those who are chosen will get jobs at one of the top companies in the region such as Chrysler to smaller ventures like ePrize to nonprofits such as United Way. “From marketing to healthcare, and IT to community development, Challenge Detroit has a job for every background,” the group says. “Additionally, Fellows will work with area non-profits on initiatives designed to positively impact the city and region.”

Challenge Detroit LogoThe Fellows will also:

  • Receive a $30,000 annual salary plus benefits typical of host company
  • Live in the City of Detroit, supported by a $500/month housing stipend
  • Engage in monthly team challenges, in partnership with area non-profits, designed to positively impact the city and region
  • Participate in a leadership development and mentorship program
  • Receive benefits such as memberships to various organizations, discounts, event access, and other benefits.

Last year, the first year for the program, more than 900 applicants applied for Challenge Detroit, a national initiative focused on revitalizing Detroit by retaining and attracting top talent to bring their intellectual capital to the city. The applicants ranged from artists to urban planners, lawyers and doctors, from recent undergraduates to those with several years of experience in their chosen fields.

This year Deidre Greene Groves, executive director of the program, hopes even more people will apply.

Those chosen as Fellows will work with and learn from top companies and non-profits in and around Detroit while helping to make a difference in the region. They will work four days a week with the company and spend each Friday on team challenges.

I checked out the Challenge Detroit blog site to get an idea of how they view Detroit. This year’s crop of Fellows has been impressed with Detroit and all it has to offer and is committed to helping with its ongoing transformation.

“Living in Detroit provides me intellectual, physical, and emotional nourishment,” says Fellow Leigh Ann Ulrey. “I consider it a privilege to be able to take advantage of all of the powerful happenings in the city. Detroit regularly has talks from activists, academic lectures, community building socials, neighborhood meetings and the city has amazing food, book stores, museums, theaters, and did I mention great food? I think you can get the picture.”

Jackie Smith, another Fellow concurs. “I enjoy working in the Detroit community because there is a sense of camaraderie between the people here. There are smart, talented and creative people from around the country and the world, who have decided to come and stay in the region. I take comfort in knowing that there are people who really care about the city and have not only self-interest but a community interest in Detroit.”

The giving aspect is key to Challenge Detroit and the Fellows find it one of the best parts of the program.

“The ‘Give’ component of our program, the community challenges, is one of my favorite aspects of Challenge Detroit,” says Kathy Titan. “These challenges offer an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the issues facing our city from an in-depth, insider perspective. Without the perspective gained through our team challenges, I would never have known just how many people and groups are dedicated to identifying and eradicating the deepest-seated problems in our region.”

The rewards for being chosen a Challenge Detroit Fellow are substantial both for the individual and the region.

To qualify you must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or be enrolled at an accredited institution and actively pursuing a Bachelor’s degree on at least a part-time enrollment basis with expected graduation by the time Challenge Detroit launches in August 2013.
  • Be U.S. resident or legal resident alien
  • Be passionate, hard-working and innovative

Though their year in the city, Challenge Detroit participants have been sharing their stories through blogging, social media, online videos and personal connections. You can visit their blog and find them on Facebook and YouTube where fellow Ben Hershey will be documenting the project though video. Some have written for this blog as well.

Applications are being accepted through Sunday, March 3, 2013. To apply go to

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