buildOn Supporters Go Indepth: Detroit

By Abby Hurst, Vice President of U.S. Programs

Earlier this fall I participated in a new buildOn immersion program, Indepth: Detroit.  It was easily one of the most powerful and amazing events I’ve experienced at buildOn.

The program was designed to give, in one weekend, buildOn supporters a first-hand look into the impact our U.S. after-school programs are having on the lives of youth.  One weekend is not a lot of time and our goal was ambitious, replicate the power of buildOn’s international Ambassador Trek experience here in the U.S.

buildOn supporter Keith Cox (left) bonds with buildOn Detroit student.

The program participants were joined by thirteen incredible buildOn students who dedicated themselves to deep and personal sharing about their lives, the impact of the buildOn program, and the challenges of growing up in Detroit – a city deemed by the US Census Bureau to be the poorest in America. What transpired over the course of the weekend was truly remarkable and I imagine unforgettable for each participant.

The program gave participants a full look at buildOn’s U.S. program through activities like: A discussion panel of students who shared their personal tragedies and triumphs, shadowing buildOn students in their Detroit high schools, participating in a buildOn program meeting, and touring the city of Detroit and the communities we serve.

The weekend ended with the Fall Detroit Regional Service Project where over 150 buildOn students from across the city participated in projects from pumpkin carving with homeless Veterans to playing Bingo with the senior citizens to making crafts with adults with metal disabilities. At the end of the day, buildOn students and supporters celebrated their accomplishments and the 453 lives they had touched through their service that weekend.

Just as importantly for the participants and students of Indepth Detroit, their lives had been deeply touched by each other. The exchange was inspiring, therapeutic and filled with transformation for the youth and adults alike. The students had a renewed sense of purpose and perspective, they saw Detroit through new eyes, a city full of hopes and dreams and opportunities.  And for the supporters? Well, just read the note below…

“It was AMAZING meeting the kids and all of the staff that support the programs. I don’t think I will ever forget Thursday night and all that followed; my mind is still trying to comprehend everything that happened. I guess the simplest way of describing how I feel right now is to say that it was life changing; I think there are certain experiences in life that change who we are, for me, this was one of them. One other thing that I am also  certain about,  ALL of these kids are incredibly lucky to have all of you!!!”
– Stephen Resnick

If you are interested in being added to an e-mail list for our next In Depth program, e-mail

buildOn students and supporters made crafts with the residents of The ARC Detroit.