MBK Detroit Innovation Challenge Expo

The My Brother's Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge

Detroit’s rebirth is happening. But too many young men of color remain trapped by circumstances that prevent them from accessing opportunities that allow them to reach their full potential. Ensuring inclusion of all Detroit residents, especially young men of color, is essential in our city’s sustainable and equitable recovery.



In February 2016, the Skillman Foundation and Campaign for Black Male Achievement called upon community members to put forth their ideas to increase opportunities for black and brown boys. This call for ideas, the MBK Detroit Innovation Challenge, drew close to 500 submissions. Applications were narrowed down by nearly 50 judges, which included young men from the city, individuals who work on behalf of youth and young men of color, and community leaders.

What we set out to accomplish

  • Seek out new leaders
  • Create a meaningful application
  • Engage community (including youth) to identify which ideas should move forward
  • Create a space where ideas could evolve
  • Activate 20 ideas and help scale the ones that get traction
  • Provide technical assistance throughout the process


From the hundreds of submissions, 20 teams were selected to advance to the next round. These organizations spent the summer of 2016 testing their ideas with the help of training, support and $5,000 in funding. In September, the teams presented their learnings and plans for their organization’s future to community members and a panel of judges. Six teams were awarded $50,000 and ongoing training supports to scale their work.

The process for participants

  • Create an idea inspired by the people you hope to serve
  • Test your idea to learn how it could best work
  • Receive early feedback
  • Evolve your idea based on learnings
  • Tell a story about the specific need you are addressing


From September 26 to October 31, the Skillman Foundation and Campaign for Black Male Achievement will hold the MBK Innovation Challenge Capstone Expo & Exhibit in Downtown Detroit. The Capstone Expo showcases four of the finalists’ programs through interactive installations. These installations are accompanied by an exhibit entitled, “In Their Words,” which features photos and quotes conveying the perspectives of young men of color in the city. Holding the expo in Detroit’s downtown business and visitor core helps to inform a deeper understanding of the city’s neighborhoods, from its challenges to its tremendous talents.