Why We’re here

Inspiration & Impact


We’re here because we know. . .


Teens in Detroit face many daunting challenges that, if unmitigated, will threaten their ability to live full, productive lives and to become functioning, contributing members of their communities.

All young people deserve the opportunity to develop abilities, skillsets and mindsets that help them strive, then thrive. “It’s not enough to say that some young people need risk prevention and others need enrichment. Readiness must be our goal for every young person”. (Ready by Design, The Forum for Youth Investment, 2016)

That’s where Teen HYPE comes in. We’re changing outcomes for Detroit’s youth by getting them ready for the world. But what does it mean for a young person to be “ready” for life’s demands at every stage? It means they’ve experienced the supports and services they need to build competence and connections. This is what Teen HYPE was created to foster.

readiness challenges facing detroit youth

  • In 2018, more than half of all the children in Detroit lived in poverty.

  • At 18.5%, Detroit has the second highest rate of young men who are not in school or workforce in the nation. 16.4% of young women are similarly “disconnected.”

  • Only four in 10 young adults nationally are “doing well”, meaning they are in college or working, emotionally and physically healthy, and engaged in civic or community life.


Issues affecting our youth

In 2018 Teen HYPE conducted an ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey) of 550 Detroit middle school students to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges younger teens are facing. The results were troubling:

52% — Parent Separated/Divorced

43% — Psychological neglect by Family

48% — household member went to prison

36% — Mentally Abused or Threats of Physical Abuse

31% — Actual Physical Abuse by Adult in Household

23% — Physical Abuse of Mother/Step-Mother

18% — Drug Use Disorder in Household

17% — Physical Neglect

17% — Depression, Mental Illness or Attempted Suicide



Teen HYPE fosters readiness…

We provide vulnerable youth with the individualized and holistic support they need to develop abilities, skillsets and mindsets to ensure they can navigate life.

How do we do it?

Infused in all our programs are concepts from positive youth development / readiness research that outlines ten universal abilities every person needs to succeed in life. In particular, we emphasize coping, communication, problem solving and self-regulation skillsets along with compassion, future orientation, persistence and purposefulness mindsets to express readiness abilities.

Peer Education

Each year we recruit 50-60 Detroit area youth to join our Peer Education program—a leadership development initiative that prepares teens for the next stage of life. Each Peer Educator receives 300 hours of community service, social justice, sexual health education, performing arts training, and life skills development annually. More than 500 Detroit teenagers have served as Peer Educators since the program launched, and these young leaders have reached over 28,000 of their peers through their annual theatrical productions.

School-Based Health Education

Our robust school-based adolesecent health education programming reaches more than 1,000 middle and high school students across Detroit. During the past two school years, we have also provided substance abuse prevention programming for 300 Detroit high school students.

Last year we also leveraged funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Family and Youth Services Bureau to provide youth development intervention programming at nine Detroit schools.

Our most utilized program Loving Our Lives, has shown particular effectiveness:

  • 90% reported feeling comfortable talking to their partner about contraception

  • 96% said they would use contraception if they were having sex

  • 97% said the program was helpful in connecting them to resources

  • 85% reported having gained communication and negotiation skills to avoid risky situations

  • 85% indicated their intention to abstain from sexual intercourse or consistently use contraception to prevent pregnancy and STIs/HIV

  • 75% indicated they are more likely to abstain than they were prior to the programming

  • 59% said they are more comfortable to talking their parents about contraceptives

Reproductive & Sexual Health Services

Since 2011, Teen HYPE has conducted Community-based HIV Counseling and Testing with funding from the Center for Disease Control. In 2017, we notified two young people that they were living with HIV and linked them to supportive services. We are the only program in Detroit to reach African American male teenagers with such services.

With the right supports, everyone’s readiness can be strengthened and increased. This is certainly the case for young people whose brains and identities are actively changing and developing.
— Ready by Design: The Science (and Art) of Youth Readiness, 2016

Understanding the Impact of

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A steadfast dedication to supporting Detroit’s young people.

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15 years after our first program, we are still celebrating youth, confronting barriers, and building bridges in Detroit.


Teen HYPE serves as a place where youth can come as they are. While they’re with us we mutually create strategies to confront whatever barriers they find in their lives. For some, they may be coming from unsafe home situations, or be struggling with a parent serving a long prison sentence. For others, they may be the first of their family to consider college, and may already be working jobs as high school students to help pay for utilities, rent and future tuition. Others find that school isn’t a place where they feel successful or accepted.

At Teen HYPE we draw upon our resources and partners to confront barriers and build bridges for our young people.

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