Growing up in the city of Detroit, Donavan McKinney recognized that he wasn’t “supposed” to “make it.” He knew statistics showed that as a young African American male in the inner-city he was more likely to use drugs, be involved in gang violence, or be imprisoned, then graduate from college.
But, some of Donavan’s friends in high school were a part of buildOn and he saw the amazing things they were doing to improve his community. Then, one of his friends traveled to Mali to help build a school. Donavan said that he was “astonished to see that students our age could go and do service in another country.” It was during that time that Donavan decided he wasn’t going to be just another statistic and got involved in buildOn instead.
“buildOn provided me with a positive outlet to do something greater than myself,” said Donavan. “It gave me the opportunity and the confidence to be a better person while giving back to my community and others in the process.”
Today, Donovan is a senior at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, majoring in Public Policy and minoring in Urban Studies. This year he is one of the directors of The Detroit Partnership, whose mission is to unite the University of Michigan and Detroit through fulfilling community partnerships. Through this organization, Donavan strives to raise awareness, break stereotypes, and promote social justice through service-learning programs.
“What I learned through buildOn is that, no matter who you are or where you live, everyone deserves the opportunity to receive a quality education,” said Donavan.