Challenge Detroit: A Fellowship Year in Retrospect

Contributed by: Clare Lilek Clare Lilek

It’s hard for me to believe that one year ago I was embarking on one of the most enlightening, demanding, and rewarding yearlong experiences I could have imagined. I came to The Center without any prior experience in the financial industry but with a passion for learning and for positively impacting communities. Through Challenge Detroit I was able to reach and discover many different nonprofits and various organizations doing good in and around the city. Through my time as a fellow, I was able to establish, retain, and bring connections made to The Center in order to expand our personal and companywide impact in the community that we work in.

As the year wrapped up, my “fellow” Challenge Detroit fellows and I worked on three more challenges culminating in a total of six challenges completed throughout the year. For more information on the first part of the year, check out my blog: Challenge Detroit—An Update Halfway Through. Here’s what we’ve been up to since I last checked in:

Challenge #4: Downtown Detroit Partnership

Downtown Detroit Partnership is a partnership of corporate, civic, and philanthropic leaders that supports, advocates, and develops programs and initiatives designed to create a clean, safe, and inviting Downtown Detroit. We worked with the DDP to see how the organization could more positively establish a back and forth communication and integration with Detroit’s neighborhoods outside of the downtown area.

Challenge #5: Detroit Future City and Black Family Development

Detroit Future City are the gatekeepers to the Strategic Framework, a highly detailed long term guide for decision-making, that is meant for all of the stakeholders in the City in order to guide land use and space development. Challenge Detroit was tasked with using their Open Lot Field Guide to take a vacant lot in the Osborn neighborhood and create an open, safe, and beautiful space for the neighbors, while simultaneously working with Black Family Development, a nonprofit in the Osborn neighborhood, on neighborhood specific tasks that involve land development.

Challenge #6: Recovery Park

Recovery Park, centered in the historic Pole Town region of Detroit, aims at developing land, creating job opportunities, and revitalizing a once highly populated area through urban farming. We were tasked with aiding in the redevelopment of this neighborhood through transportation access, small business development, and land beautification.

The past few months of Challenge Detroit went insanely fast. It feels like 2016 was just starting and more than three quarters of the experiences and opportunities that the fellowship brings still lied fatefully ahead. Now, as the year comes to an end and Challenge Detroit prepares to welcome the Year 5 fellows, I can’t help but reflect on the challenges, rewards, and unforgettable experiences this past year has brought me. I am continually grateful for that opportunity, especially since it introduced me to The Center and the wonderful people that work here. The Center chose to participate in the program in order to be connected to and participate in all the exciting work that is being done in the City. I plan on continuing that work and mission with The Center outside of the fellowship in order to keep the Challenge Detroit spirit alive.

Clare Lilek is a Challenge Detroit Fellow / Client Service Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®

Raymond James is not affiliated with Challenge Detroit or any of the co-operating organizations named. Challenge Detroit: A Fellowship Year in Retrospect