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YOUTH VOICE, a project of Harriet Tubman Center, is a network for young people to develop their leadership skills and make community change. A minimum of 5 youth come together from a school, organization, church, or neighborhood to form a chapter. Together, they meet weekly and learn strategies to identify solutions to concerns they face as young people. They conduct research and build relationships with city officials, plan and organize community events, and learn skills such as management, planning and goal setting, conflict resolution and negotiating, research and computer skills, problem solving, critical thinking, public speaking, teamwork and relationship building.

Learn why Michigan needs to modify Zero Tolerance

The Insight: In Detroit, many youth do not have the resources or skills to compete after high school. YOUTH VOICE (YV) provides a program that focus on important elements of becoming a productive member of society.

What YV is: A network for youth to build individual and collective power to make positive change.

What YV does: YOUTH VOICE develops young people capacities in leadership to make change in their lives and community using four areas: identity development, youth organizing, community service, and critical thinking.

Why YV matters: Detroit lacks in youth empowerment spaces that create opportunities for young people to understand the community around them and how they can make a difference. YV develops their leadership skills and capacity in implementing the change they envision. (All highlights are clickable links)

2009-2010 Highlights

•January 2009 YOUTH VOICE was formed by Tubman Center, Southwest Solutions, and other partners

•May 2009 CNN coverage and Mayor Bing meeting after having a 250-person mayoral candidate summit

•October 2009 Organized a 300-person Vigilance and Violence Summit with political officials, two weeks later YOUTH VOICE created its first executive board with 11 founding members

•Summer 2010 Announced Operation Ceasefire Campaign, and held a march summer 2011 of 100 youth

•November 2010 Held a youth Safety Summit with council members to address youth concerns

2011-2012 Highlights

•March 2011 Organized with parent groups to bring 900 people together for a Coming Together rally

•June 2011 Launched the listening campaign to address community issues and collected 1,000 surveys

•Summer 2012 Met with Dept of Justice and DOJ announced $1.5 million for Operation Ceasefire to be implemented

•August 2012 Held Power Brunch of 100 community leaders, Police Chief Godbee stated “If YOUTH VOICE had not been an alliance to make a difference, I guarantee you Operation Ceasefire would not be coming to fruition…”

•Fall 2012 MTV filmed YV boarding up houses and YV held a food drive for homeless youth in the same week

•November 2012 College day at UofM Dearborn where YV members learned about college and FAFSA

•December 2012 Held a youth leadership conference in Roscommon, MI and developed leader skills

2013 Highlights

•January 2013 Held Detroit coalition meeting to address youth issues and discuss Prison Pipeline campaign

•January 2013 YOUTH VOICE Romania was established (Vocea Tineretului Romania)

•February 2013 Hired Detroit youth to hold youth forums and present at events like DetroitSoup

•March 23 2013 Held a 450-person march on School to Prison Pipeline and spoke on Fox 2 News

•April 2013 Partnered with ACLU Michigan to hold a post march panel at Detroit Mercy School of Law

•April 2013 Partnered with the 313 Project and Team 313 to hold a East Side Detroit Clean Up

•May 2013 Attended summit and received a grant to launch the Ending “Pipeline” reading tour

•May 2013 Director of DHS Maura Corrigan established partnership with YV on restorative practices

•May 2013 YV students will be training UofM SSW graduate students on youth organizing

•June 2013 APL Safety rally on June 1st and beautification of Stein Park

•June 2013 YV on YouthSoup board held first soup on June 9th visit

•July 2013-August 2013 YV Partnered with US Attorney Detroit One to host Hip Hop contest

•September 2013: YV was a part of the Governors 600 person summit. Check out the youth presentation!

•October 2013: Detroit Youth Summit launched October 5th and provided support for students citywide!

Current Initiatives:

•January 2014: YV is expanding citywide. Check out the next YV chapter in Ypsilanti!

Where YV is going: YV will continue to expand opportunities by establishing more peer-to-peer leadership and developing new chapters!

If you would like a YOUTH VOICE chapter in your school or community, email or visit


Watch YOUTH VOICE speak at the Governor’s Michigan Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships


Watch YOUTH VOICE’s Alyssia on MTV’s True Life