Inaugural Detroit Fellowship Brings Together Emerging and Established Urban Leaders

August 08, 2017

After a month of intensive study about urban and economic change in Detroit, the inaugural Humanity in Action Fellowship in Detroit concluded on Friday, August 4th. The fellowship explored the biography of Detroit –– a city deeply emblematic of the tensions of urban development and inequality in the United States. 

Humanity in Action's 22 Fellows explored the most critical issues in Detroit –– poverty, labor, housing, transportation, food, farming, entrepreneurship, public health and more. They now embark on Action Projects tackling urban challenges in Detroit and in their home cities around the world.

The Detroit Fellowship benefitted immensely from special collaborative programming with three of metropolitan Detroit's landmark cultural institutions: the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Arab American National Museum. 

Humanity in Action launched the fellowship on a monumental anniversary for the city –– the 50th anniversary of the 1967 rebellion. The Fellows met with witnesses and historians to understand both the events of '67 and the long history of racial suppression in Detroit. As guests of the Wright Museum, the Fellows attended the world premiere of Detroit, a major film by Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), about the Algiers Motel Murders during the rebellion. 

The Detroit Fellowship is a three-year initiative. The inaugural fellowship ran from July 8 - August 4, 2017. Humanity in Action looks forward to welcoming applications this autumn for the 2018 fellowship.

Schedule          Speakers          2017 Fellows          Photos        

      2017 Humanity in Action Fellows in the Detroit Fellowship

Emerging Urban Leaders

The 22 inaugural Fellows formed a diverse cohort of university students and young professionals from Detroit, elsewhere in Michigan and the United States, and from several European countries. The European Fellows came from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Poland. The Fellows' backgrounds covered a broad range of disciples –– including urban planning, law, entrepreneurship, art history, medicine, engineering and community development. Click here to read the 2017 Fellows' profiles.

2017 Fellows Whitney Sherrill (Ann Arbor) and Julia Mardeusz (Warsaw) at D-Town Farms

Four Weeks of Collaborative Learning

Humanity in Action designed an intensive program for the Fellows to examine Detroit's past, present and future through engaged intellectual exploration and collaboration. The fellows visited health clinics, volunteered at an urban farm and viewed exhibits at Detroit's leading cultural institutions. Over four weeks, they held discussions with over 60 community leaders and expert observers about the challenges Detroit faces. The Fellows also visited Flint and met with scholars and activists at the center of the city's lead water crisis.   

These speakers represented some of the most important organizations in metropolitan Detroit, including: ACCESS, Arab American National Museum, Beaumont Hospital, Boggs Center, Build Institute, Cass Community Social Services, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit City Council, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Health Department, Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Flint Rising, FoodLab, Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford Health System, Michigan House of Representatives, Michigan State University, New Detroit, Southwest Solutions, Techstars, The Platform, University of Michigan, Walter Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs. Click to view the 2017 agenda and speaker biographies

     2017 Humanity in Action Fellows in the Detroit Fellowship

Highlights from Over 60 Speakers

  • Juanita Moore (President and CEO, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History)
  • Salvador Salort-Pons (Director, President and CEO, Detroit Institute of Arts)
  • Rev. Faith Fowler (Executive Director, Cass Community Social Services)
  • Marsha Music (author)
  • Malik Yakini (Executive Director, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network)
  • Peter Cummings (Executive Chairman, The Platform) 

Humanity in Action's Investment in Detroit

Humanity in Action established the Detroit Fellowship to support the development of a network of emerging leaders in Detroit who are deeply committed to an equitable future for the city. The network will be an extension of Humanity in Action's dynamic and global Senior Fellow Network of more than 1,700 alumni. 
The Detroit Fellowship is a three-year initiative. Applications for the 2018 program will open in the fall of 2017. The Detroit Fellowship joins Humanity in Action's John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta as the second U.S.-based annual fellowship, along with our annual European fellowships in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Sarajevo and Warsaw


The Detroit Fellowship has been made possible through the support of funders who believe Humanity in Action can make a meaningful contribution to Detroit. We are deeply thankful to the RNR Foundation, the Germeshausen Foundation, the Charles D. and Mary A. Bauer Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Knight Fund of the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan.

Latest News