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Youth Diversity Project

Strengthening Youth Leadership
for Diversity Dialogues in Livingston County

Proposal for an Educational Partnership of the
Livingston Diversity Council and University of Michigan

The Livingston Diversity Council and the Michigan Youth and Community Program of the University of Michigan will establish an educational partnership to strengthen youth leadership for addressing diversity and discrimination in Livingston County.

The Livingston Diversity Council represents business people, private citizens, educators, government officials, and clergy who live and/or work in Livingston County. Council members embrace the virtues of diversity and inclusion in the community. To that end the Council brings to the community a range of opportunities for community members to build knowledge and gain experience with issues of diversity and discrimination.


In 2006, the U.S. Census reported that Livingston County was 97% Caucasian. This poses a unique challenge to young people who want to interact with other young people with varying backgrounds. While they are generally aware that the world is diverse, and that they will work in that world, they have limited opportunities to discuss diversity and discrimination in their country.

Howell high school students, after observing a performance by the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit facilitated by University of Michigan faculty members, participated in summer planning meetings that resulted in a proposal for strengthening youth leadership for the facilitation of conversations about diversity and discrimination.

There are obstacles to sustaining involvement of young people in activities of this type in Livingston County. Because of the lack of a broadly diverse population they grow up where such conversations are uncommon. Their parents and teachers too often lack experience in handling situations involving the issues of diversity and discrimination which sometimes arise in the community, in the classroom, and/or at home. Therefore, when some students apply for jobs that bring them in contact with a more diverse population, or apply to public universities that require essays about their experience with diversity, they discover a deficiency not of their own making.

The University of Michigan has commitment to strengthening diversity through educational outreach and campus-community collaboration. University representatives want to involve high school students in diversity learning, and prepare them for higher education and employment opportunities.

To that end, the objective of this educational partnership of the Livingston Diversity Council and the Michigan Youth and Community Program of the University of Michigan is to strengthen youth leadership for addressing diversity and discrimination in Livingston County as we help to prepare the next generation of community leaders for higher education and employment opportunities.

The partnership will include a combination of the following activities:

  • Youth dialogues facilitation training workshops
  • Youth leadership development retreat
  • Youth participation in the summer youth dialogues program
  • County youth civic engagement summit
  • Adult training and facilitation sessions
  • Teacher professional development workshops
  • Youth-adult county dialogues
  • Compilations of best practices
  • Education and resource materials
  • Documentation of lessons learned

Strengthening diversity is not a one-time event but requires a strategy over the long haul. We propose to identify initial activities for a pilot year, with subsequent evaluation and possibility for expansion.

Management and Leadership

The partnership will be led by a small community-university committee that will meet on a bimonthly basis. As part of the partnership, the community and university will each designate a person to serve as a liaison.

The diversity council will designate an adult adviser who will support the youth leaders throughout the year. The adviser is instrumental to the sustainability of projects like these, and should be carefully selected for his or her qualities.

The university will reimburse the services of two professional graduate students for a total of three person-days per week during January-April 2009.

Implementation Timetable

This partnership is conceived as a one-year initiative starting January 1, 2009, with possibilities of continuation conditional upon evaluation and mutual agreement.

Fund Development

The partnership will have support of both the Livingston Diversity Council and the University of Michigan.

The university and community will prepare a budget for this partnership, and identify external public and private sources for future funding.

The University of Michigan already has committed cash and non-cash funds for this initiative, through involvement of faculty and staff members in meetings over an 18-month period, graduate student staff support, and other expenses.

The university is prepared to place two professional graduate students to this project at least one day per week during the January-April period.

The Livingston Diversity Council will commit in-kind support of its committee members/officers in addition to financial support as contained in the attached budget.

Tentative Implementation Timetable
January 1 – December 31, 2009

Partnership meetings
(1-see below)
Dec 17, Jan 7, and then TBD
Three Youth training workshops (2) Feb 28 - UM Mar 14 &
May 2 - LC
One Youth Conclave (2a)       Sept 26 – LC
Teacher social gatherings (3) Dates TBD      
Parent social gatherings (4) Dates TBD      
Summer youth dialogues (5)     Summer  
Community activity (6)     Summer  
Campus tour (7)     Summer  
Resource materials (8)        
Documentation/evaluation (9) On-going with Due date in October 09

Implementation Narrative

Partnership meetings will be held on a to-be-determined schedule
LDC will provide recruitment and transportation, and UM will provide curriculum, facilitation, and facilities
LDC will convene a county-wide Conclave of youth to implement the Summer Dialogue Plan
LDC will convene a core group of teachers, and with UM will co-facilitate the gathering
LDC will convene a core group of parents, and with UM will co-facilitate the gathering
LDC will form a youth team of 5-6 sophomores and juniors and the UM will provide orientation, metropolitan tour, intragroup and intergroup dialogues, community project with facilitator, and campus retreat
LDC will organize a community activity
UM will conduct a campus tour for youth leaders
UM will compile a packet of resource materials for LDC collaborators
LDC will document and evaluate the project with advice on evaluation options from UM