After-school Leadership Program: A school-year leadership development program for young Detroiters that culminates in the design and launch of students’ own triple-bottom-line (people, planet, profit) food business. Through this process we surround our students with the experience, knowledge, and networks of support they need to achieve academically, thrive professionally, lead confidently, and live healthfully. Participants graduate with a foundation in business basics, culinary arts, food skills, financial literacy, and leadership; a polished values-based food product, a certificate in food and social entrepreneurship, a network of potential employers, and an opportunity to enter our summer employment program. The school year is split into two semesters:
Fall (“Mealshare”): Students gain experience in basic knife skills, nutrition fundamentals, smart grocery shopping, meal budgeting, culinary arts, and event planning in their effort to organize a community dinner for their family and friends. As part of this process, students develop cooking basics lessons to share with elementary and middle school students and their families. Fieldtrips include farm to fork explorations of the Detroit food community; workshops from local chefs, community leaders, and food professionals; and the opportunity to take, then lead, a smart shopping tour of a local grocery store. Each group is mentored throughout by a Detroit chef.
Spring (“Pop-up”): Students hone their craft by designing their own healthy, local food recipe in order to build a triple bottom line food business from the ground up. Throughout the semester, students participate in field trips, engage in workshops held by community leaders, and pilot their product by premiering their business at a ‘Market Day’ at their high school.
Summer Leadership Program: After-school graduates are invited to apply for a paid summer internship under one of two tracks:
Culinary Arts: Students passionate about culinary arts have the opportunity to continue honing their craft under the guidance of a a local chef mentor. They lead and create meals for the larger group, share their tasty creations at farmers’ markets, and craft a menu for an end-of-summer cooking competition.
Food Entrepreneurship: After successfully premiering their food business at Market Day, students have the opportunity to launch, operate, and refine their business at Detroit farmers’ markets and grocery stores. In addition to building their own business, students spend one day per week inside the operation of their local food business mentor. The summer culminates in ‘Pitch Day’, where DFA’s young leaders pitch their businesses and personal leadership stories for a chance to win endorsements from the DFA Mentorship Board, scholarships, internship opportunities, and the addition of their handcrafted product to the Small Batch Detroit product line.
Advanced Leadership Cohort: Students who have been with us for at least one year are offered the opportunity to develop their own unique food-rooted project and bring it to the next level. Our first cohort elected to create a pop-up restaurant called Seconds, using produce ‘seconds’ to offer a gourmet dining experience to family, friends, and community. They set their vision at the beginning of the year and worked each week and many weekends to hone their culinary craft, grow their front- and back-of-house knowledge, learn from local restaurateurs and chefs, and craft their gourmet menu. Future cohorts embark on similar journeys while rising to the challenge of promoting food access, wellness, and power to their peers and our City.