Too often in our country, a child’s zip code predicts his or her ultimate success. Here in Detroit, 60 percent of children under 5 live in poverty, with the majority of them not ready for kindergarten. That’s why, in 2016, I cofounded Brilliant Detroit, an organization dedicated to ensuring that families with children ages 0 to 8 have what they need to be school ready, healthy and stable. Thanks to our efforts, Brilliant Detroit has grown from one hub and 50 participating families in our first year to reaching more than 7,000 children and caregivers across eight Detroit neighborhoods.
The problem I am trying to solve
In Detroit only about 15 percent of all kids read at grade level by third grade — staggering numbers even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Brilliant Detroit establishes and operates home-based hubs in the middle of high-need neighborhoods. We currently work with 92 organizational partners to provide 47,000 hours of high-quality, evidence-based early-childhood education, health and family support. Our goal? To get these kids school ready, healthy and stable.
The moment that sparked my passion
Back in 2015 I asked a young mom what she felt she needed to support her family. She explained that to get any sort of social or educational services, she had to race around the city going from program to program to program — something that was impossible, as she worked full-time and didn’t have access to a car. She looked at me and said simply, “I can’t do it.” That solidified the beginning of Brilliant Detroit. I knew we had to create programs that came to these families, rather than expecting them to move mountains to get to us.