Join us to participate in the upcoming 2019 City:One Challenge. 

Teens, Education, Athletics, & Mentorship (TEAM)

TEAM = Teen, Education, Athletics, & Mentorship has objective for intensive, structured, outcomes-focused inner city Detroit youth program.

Photo of Allan Cohen
1 0

Written by

Project Purpose

The purpose of this project to make it possible to provide afterschool transportation for Detroit students to facilitate their participation in our combined athletics and academics program.

This new afterschool program is for low income kids in southeastern Detroit.  Grant proceeds will be used to partially cover the cost of setting up a shuttle service for the program which will involve purchasing a van and hiring a part-time driver.  For the first year pilot this program will shuttle kids between Detroit Cristo Rey High School (5679 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209) and the gym CrossFit at the D (150 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48226). 

About Us

TEAM-CrossFit Detroit the start-up afterschool fitness program initially geared toward teens (age 13 to 18 years) living in the inner city and attending one of Detroit’s middle or high schools.  TEAM acronym stands for Teens, Education, Athletics, and Mentorship - which reflect the main objectives of this structured, intensive, outcomes-focused youth program. or

Project Merits

Desirability - Detroit Cristo Rey High School (CristoRey) serves many students in the Michigan Central Station Impact Area.  This project will therefore facilitate students in this and later the greater Detroit area to take join in this valuable afterschool program.

Feasibility - CristoRey students already participate in a work study program which provides transportation via vans shuttling to job sites.  This proposal will expand the use of vans to allows students transportation to the  afterschool program.  Due to CristoRey’s already extensive experience in setting up van services and managing personnel, it is anticipated that this new service will be accommodated relatively quickly (i.e. < 2 months).

Viability - CristoRey has a tradition of getting local businesses to sponsor its programs.  It is anticipated that once this program is up and running and can demonstrate its positive impact on success of the students, the program will attract many sponsors.

Physical Fitness & Academic Achievement – Numerous studies, some cited below, the show new research literature supporting the connection between physical activity/physical education and cognitive performance. 

The Problem

Dismal test scores have recently been released for Detroit public schools.  The numbers show that not only are few Detroit public school students proficient in reading and math, but there has been no improvement over the past decade. Currently, only 7% of eighth graders are proficient in reading (Chen, 2019).

Such poor performance can only be solved by attacking the underlying problems.  Over thirty-four percent (34.5%) of Detroit residents live below the poverty line (Press, 2018). Nearly 1 in 3 of children in Michigan are obese. However, while obesity is an issue for all American youth, the problem is even greater in low income communities due to the lack of access to recreations, parks and full-service grocery stores.  In fact, the Michigan Department of Agriculture has labeled 19 Detroit neighborhoods as a “food desert," which is a term used to describe an urban area that lacks accessibility to quality and affordable food.  These factors greatly increase the likelihood of obesity within these Detroit communities.

Research shows that two-thirds of parents living in communities of concentrated poverty have a difficult time finding an enriching afterschool environment for their children.  This is worsened by challenges presented by affordability and transportation to the limited options available.

Multiple studies (Grissom, 2005) (Han, 2018) (Toit, Pienaar, & Trutter, 2011) have shown that there is a significant correlation between physical fitness and academic achievement.  Students with higher levels of physical fitness tend to have higher academic performance in core subjects such as reading, mathematics and science.  The high percentage of low-income children in Detroit and the related barriers to physical fitness are undoubtably a contributing factor to the poor performance of Detroit school children.

The Solution

CrossFit is a workout program that first swept the nation and now the world with over 13,000 affiliate locations.  It emphasizes safe effective exercises and good nutrition.  CrossFit Detroit (CFD) is a state-of-the-art CrossFit workout location in downtown Detroit that opened in 2015.  It is a rare resource as there are currently just literal handful of affordable public gyms in the 143 square miles of Detroit.

CFD is therefore in a unique position to create TEAM as an afterschool startup organization to help disadvantaged Detroit youth.  The TEAM-CFD program will sponsor after‐school, weekend, and summer activities at the CFD facility.

The program will provide coaches and tutors with four main objectives:

  • Physical Fitness
  • Reading Improvement
  • Self‐esteem & Strength of Character
  • Educational Goal Attainment – high school and college graduation

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

Students from Cristo Rey High School (CristoRey) will be participating in the pilot program. Cristo Rey High School is a private, coeducational, Roman Catholic high school in Detroit, Michigan, in the West Vernor-Junction Historic District. Cristo Rey is unique in that it only admits low income students. Students cover their cost of tuition by participating in its work study program. Cristo Rey is extraordinary for Detroit in that nearly 100% of its seniors get acceptance letters from colleges with many obtaining merit-based scholarships. They get acceptances from a wide variety of schools ranging from Michigan State, Western Michigan and Wayne State to Fordham, Tuskegee and Howard University. Map attached shows that our pilot surrounds Michigan Central Station impact area. We will have a major impact on families in this area because student demographics comprise: 50% Female 75% Hispanic 20% African-American 70% Southwestern Detroit 80% Free or reduced cost lunches

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users
  • Pilot - you have implemented your solution in a real-world scenario

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

For example - pilot partner Math Corps has posted dramatic results. Test scores in the summer camp typically rise from pre-camp averages of 25% to post-camp averages of 90% 98% of the students give the program A’s or B’s; parent ratings are even higher HS graduation rate for Math Corps students at about 90%, with about 90% of those students going on to college (80%) or the military (10%) Students of 3 three summers, achieved a 21 median score on the ACT math exam – far above Detroit average

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

TEAM Member Organizations include: TEAM Lead & Physical Fitness TEAM CrossFit Detroit Students Participants Detroit Cristo Rey High School Academic Fitness WSU Math Corps Beyond Basics

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Team or Organization URL

Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • Yes

Funding Request

  • $50,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

ITEM COST $ Van 20,000 Driver 15,000 Insurance 12,000 Fuel 1,200 Maint 1,000 Total $49,200

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

To accomplish objectives CFD founder and Head Coach David Finlay will lead a team of coaches and tutors to run this after-school fitness and mentorship program from 3:30 to 5:30PM Monday through Friday. During the pilot students will be shuttled from CristoRey to the CFD facility. After participating that day with TEAM, the students will be shuttled back to their school. Participants will be expected to attend a minimum of three days per week. For the first year pilot program - on a daily basis 30 CristoRey students will be brought to TEAM-CFD for 2 hours. The students will have fun doing one hour of athletics with fitness instruction and then be split into academics sessions. Homework tutoring will led by Beyond Basics or Math Corps and students will join the group based on their greater need for improving math or reading and language skills. Students will be closely supervised by two professional staff, Coach Finlay as Executive Director and an Academic Coordinator (TBD).

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

TEAM CFD is outcomes-focused and evaluates effectiveness based upon real impact: In the gym, we use objective benchmarks. Assessments will include reduction in the amount of time to accomplish a workout repeated over the course of the program, or an increase in the weight or the number of repetitions for a movement the student is able to complete. Fitness metrics such as body composition, strength, speed, endurance will be measured. For the academics, the primary benchmark of success will be maintenance or improvement in a student’s grade point over the 12-month period. Metrics will be gathered by tutors and with the help of school administration including reading level, math scores and overall GPA. More subjective benchmark assessments will focus on the student’s expressed enjoyment in the program collected via a short-written survey at the end of the 12-month calendar period as well as a student’s attendance over the course of the program.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

The long term sustainability plan is to begin fundraising and applying for applicable grants locally and nationally based on demonstrating success with the pilot project. We have begun discussion and application with the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, The Kresge and the Knight Foundations. CrossFit also provides support for programs like this. There are multiple examples of similar programs with far larger budgets that have shown great success. Ex. Detroit Boxing Club / RacquetUp Detroit.

Social Media

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Mackenzie Fankell

Allan Cohen  Thank you for sharing this proposal! I am a Michigan Central Station Challenge facilitator. As a former teacher, I can understand the great benefits of participating in after school programs (both athletic and academic). I understand that there is a great need for transportation to after school programs in Detroit, and I am happy to see you tackling this issue! It sounds like Cristo Rey has a lot of experience with shuttling. Is there a way to expand the shuttling program to more schools and more after school programs in the city? Perhaps Cristo Rey could share knowledge and expertise in this area to serve more Detroit students!