Michigan Ross MBAs to Team up with Detroit Youth to Support the City’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

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Immersive MBA Leadership Program Will Partner with Community and Leverage Business to Make a Positive Difference in Detroit’s Brightmoor Neighborhood

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business today unveiled details of its annual Impact Challenge, one of the most ambitious and immersive leadership development programs of its kind for business school students. Organized by the Sanger Leadership Center, the 2015 Impact Challenge will bring together the entire incoming class of first-year Full-Time MBA students to engage in a week-long, fast-paced business challenge aiming to make a positive difference in Detroit’s Brightmoor community. Teams of MBA students from Michigan Ross will help nearly 60 high school students develop business plans and products for Brightmoor Maker Space, a proposed community workshop and incubator for business ideas generated by teens and community residents, while also organizing a high-energy Maker Faire and pitch competition for the teens.

Throughout the next week, Michigan Ross students will engage with Detroit leaders and youth to support the launch and future sustainability of the Brightmoor Maker Space. Michigan Ross students will learn to leverage business as a positive force in the community, while empowering a rising generation of makers and entrepreneurs in Detroit. Michigan Ross MBAs will also be organizing the Detroit Youth Maker Faire on Thursday, August 27, 2015 at Detroit’s Eastern Market, where 1,000 attendees from the community will gather for the youth’s product pitch competition. Expert judges from Deloitte and General Motors will select several winning products and award seed funding to the winning organizations to further support their entrepreneurial efforts. The event is free, open to the public and will start at 11:30 a.m.

Following the week-long challenge, a group of MBA and undergraduate students from Ross’ Sanger Leadership Center will work for eight months in partnership with the Brightmoor Maker Space to implement ideas from the Impact Challenge and move the Maker Space from concept to reality with construction set to begin in this winter. Upon completion, the Brightmoor Maker Space will transform a currently vacant 3,200 square-foot building on the campus of the Detroit Community Schools into a community workshop where high school students from the under-resourced Brightmoor neighborhood can develop skills in woodcraft, metal work, printmaking, screen printing, multimedia tools, and more. The Brightmoor Maker Space will house various community organizations that seek to give neighborhood youth the opportunity to build their creative making skills and business ideas, including Brightmoor Youth Garden, a small farming community where youth can grow and sell their own produce, and B’Moor Radio, a youth-based community radio program created and produced by high school students.

“The Impact Challenge is a cornerstone of the Ross experience, as it demonstrates the power of business to be a force for positive change, while also providing Michigan Ross students with an amazing opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and make a lasting impact on Detroit,” said Scott DeRue, associate dean and director of the Sanger Leadership Center. “This year’s challenge is particularly exciting as it will allow MBA students to connect directly with Detroit’s next generation to help Brightmoor’s high school students build business and entrepreneurial skills while opening their eyes to what they are capable of achieving. Many students come to Michigan Ross because they want to leverage business to have an impact in the world, and the Impact Challenge is the beginning of that legacy. We call it positive business.”

For more than 20 years, Ross has hosted community service projects in Detroit as part of the onboarding of new students, and 2015 marks the fifth year that has come in the form of the Impact Challenge. From day one of the Michigan Ross MBA program, students are engaged in action-based learning opportunities as evidenced by the existence of Impact Challenge and other experiential programs offered through Sanger Leadership Center that are woven into the fabric of the Ross curriculum and add intrinsic value to the degree. In previous years, the Challenge has raised more than $65,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation; engaged organizations to tackle Detroit’s most pressing social problems; and provided a large-scale back to school fair featuring products, services, and learning activities to help more than 3,000 Detroit kids and parents get a positive start to the school year. To date, past Impact Challenges tasked students with developing and launching a business that gave back to the community while this year’s challenge for Full-Time MBAs has been redefined in order to make a more sustainable and lasting impact by supporting an entrepreneurial endeavor already underway in the community.

"Working with the students from the Ross School of Business and their yearly Impact Challenge brings us ever closer to the goal of partnering university students with high school students from the Brightmoor neighborhood in Detroit,” said Bart Eddy, co-founder of Detroit Community Schools and director of Entrepreneurship in Action, a youth entrepreneurship program. “We are engaged in a collaborative design and implementation effort to produce saleable products on behalf of the community that will contribute to the fulfillment of our entrepreneurial training via the Entrepreneurship in Action program out of Detroit Community High School and the Brightmoor Maker Space. In this movement from the “probable” to the “possible,” we are making a collective impact on the neighborhood while discovering the hidden resources of inspiration and enthusiasm via social entrepreneurship."

General Motors and Deloitte are sponsoring this year’s challenge, and local partner organizations include the Detroit Parent Network and Detroit TechTown. The experience is an intensive, action-based learning program for students and core to the Michigan Ross mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Aside from first-year Full-Time MBA students, Weekend/Evening MBAs and Master of Management students have also contributed to the project. Last year’s Impact Challenge engaged students in the Full-Time MBA, Weekend/Evening MBA, Global MBA, Master of Management, and BBA programs in tandem, while this year, most programs have their own individual Impact Challenge in order to give students a more immersive experience.

Follow all of the Impact Challenge action on Twitter and Instagram using the tag #RossImpact or learn more at http://michiganross.umich.edu/sanger/impact-challenge.    

Watch the results from past Michigan Ross Impact Challenges here: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6Dz04zFzqo

 

About Michigan Ross
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today's dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.

Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.

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