Building Hope for Detroit's Young Men of Color

“I heard a lot of statistics about young black men growing up, them ending up either dead or in jail. I always feared I would become the statistic.” 

This is what 25-year-old Shannon Smith shared with me. His fear is not unique. The statistics he and other young men of color face are dire. 

  • Graduation rates for black and Hispanic students fall below those of white students by 16 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
  • Only 12 percent of Hispanic men and 21 percent of black men obtain a college degree by their late 20s, compared to nearly 40 percent of white men.
  • Black and Hispanic prisoners account for over 60 percent of total prison population, far greater than their share of the total U.S. population.
  • The unemployment rate for black males is double that of all males (15 percent vs 8 percent). 

In the face of such outcomes, young men of color are living at a time when they lack hope - and without hope, nothing else matters. Nothing can be accomplished or improved. 

But we should be encouraged by the fact that there are phenomenal men of color in Detroit – husbands, fathers, brothers, mentors and teachers – that realize that it is not good enough for just some of us to thrive. There are folks working hard in the trenches every day, committed to creating a better Detroit. Their leadership inspires great hope.  

MBK Innovation Poster

The MBK Detroit Innovation Challenge is a chance to turn issues into opportunities. To cultivate new leaders. To build hope. Importantly, young men of color will be involved in each step of the process, working shoulder-to-shoulder with other community members who are committed to standing with them and learning with them. After all, our youth not only possess the insight, but the drive and talent to plot their own path to greatness.  

Help expand opportunity and hope for Detroit’s young men of color. Whether you submit an idea, work on a team to bring an idea to life, or help us share this opportunity with your network, your support will make a real difference. 


David R. McGhee  

Learn more about the MBK Innovation Challenge at

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