“Challenge Detroit is an intentional experience. In two months, I have already engaged with the Detroit community in meaningful ways, heard from brilliant community leaders, and been challenged to think critically and more expansively than ever before,” said Mariam Makki, Challenge Detroit fellow on our company’s Public Affairs team. “I’ve learned how to create sustainable partnerships, the importance of data when measuring impact, and project planning and execution. As my interests continue to evolve through my time at DTE, my career goal is to become a product and/or project manager at DTE or at a corporation with similar values as DTE.”

Challenge Detroit is a multidisciplinary fellowship with a mission to develop and support diverse, innovative, community-minded leaders to move the city forward. Each fellow is assigned a host company that allows them to work at Detroit-based businesses and nonprofit organizations. This year our company brought on eight Challenge Detroit fellows – five in Public Affairs and three to work on our Workforce Development team.

Mariam graduated with Honors and received a B.A. from Michigan State University in 2020 with a dual-major in International Relations and Social Relations & Policy and a minor in Muslim Studies. At DTE, she has been involved in the United Way Campaign, DTE Alumni Network and Employee Volunteerism.

“As a fellow, I feel as though we are equipped with two avenues for growth during this year-long opportunity, professionally and creatively,” said Makki. “We spend four days per week improving ourselves professionally within our work streams at DTE. Every Friday, fellows engage in design-thinking, an innovation method that puts human-centered design at the forefront for local nonprofits. We also bring social impact challenge projects to life in collaboration with these nonprofit partners. Diverse thoughts and perspectives are essential to the process so we can explore all avenues and ideas, coming up with the best possible solutions for these organizations while gaining real life experiences.”

The group’s first nonprofit partner was the Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance (MBDDA). The goal was to use design-thinking to provide MDBBA with creative solutions and supply deliverables to help forward their mission. The MDBBA creates programs and advocates for policies that result in thriving Black-owned businesses. They aid Black entrepreneurs in launching their business (business plan writing, securing loans and grants) and sustaining them through ongoing support.

To learn more about Challenge Detroit visit challengedetroit.org.