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Applications Open: Challenge Detroit fellows answer the call to work and deeply experience the city

Challenge 1

By Maureen McDonald

When it comes to attracting friends and making a difference in Detroit, no experience compares to Challenge Detroit, according to Kelsey Stein, a current fellow and ambassador to city.

Challenge Detroit is seeking its fourth class of fellows to live, work and play in Detroit. The deadline for applying for a fellowship is March 6. In addition to the personal benefits, there’s a financial aspect: Fellows receive a $36,000 annual salary plus benefits. The program matches 30 fellows with area host companies. The Fellows work four days a week in business and devote at least one day to community-service projects.

Kelsey Stein

Kelsey Stein

Competition for these spots is tough but the benefits are mighty rewarding, participants say. Fellows like Stein, 28, receive access to Detroit cultural and entertainment events. They also participate in a leadership training program. “For young adults fresh out of college you get work experience at a top-tier company, mentors and a chance to go exploring all over town,” she said.

Stein is what Challenge Detroit calls a hybrid fellow – she came with a job at DTE Energy with its health and wellness team and joined Challenge Detroit to broaden her experiences. She spent several months working in the Jefferson-Chalmers District on the city’s east side helping develop a director of neighborhood retailers and services.

“Walk into Hammer Time Hardware and you’ll be greeted with the essence of what defines Detroit,” Stein wrote in a blog about her east side discoveries. “Quality hardware dispersed amongst a gritty backdrop with the smell of sawdust wafting through the air.  Meet the owners, Clara and Bill, and you quickly realize hard work and blue collar attitude were instrumental in maintaining this sustainable business.”

DTE Energy sees Challenge Detroit as a resource to not only build the city but build up its business.

“It allows our company to tap into a strong talent pipeline and developmental program already established and invested in Detroit,” said Diane Antishin, vice president, Human Resources Operations, DTE Energy. “Our fellows help to make a difference in the work we do every day, and through the program’s close involvement with the city, our fellows also enable DTE to be a force for growth and prosperity in the communities where we live and serve.

Challenge Detroit fellows help at the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative

Challenge Detroit fellows help at the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative

“We are pleased that Kelsey, who has worked for DTE for more than three years, is able to participate in the new internal track program at Challenge Detroit. She wanted to grow her skills and invest more of her time in the city and we wanted to keep her as an employee,” said Antishin. “It’s beneficial for everyone.”

Within a month, the Dearborn resident was smitten with this sector of the city. Stein told TheHUB:

“What I found was this intricate canal network that flows through these east side neighborhoods. I never knew it existed,” Stein said. After work she could go to the Alfred Brush Ford park and watch the sailboats go by. Her favorite hangout in the city is Motor City Brewery in Midtown, where the regulars know her name and welcome her.

Yet her favorite people are the fellows she has come to know. She wrote another blog post on the first six months of her experience noting she had worked 176 hours, did one high ropes course, discovered nine new restaurants, explored eight neighborhoods and visited three coffee shops in addition to helping host three leadership development sessions and giving 20 volunteer hours.

The deadline for applying for a fellowship is March 6. For more information about Challenge Detroit and to review the application, visit http://www.challengedetroit.org/

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