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Supporting STEAM-based Learning in Detroit with Brilliant Detroit

“We know that for kids to fully develop they need to build their imagination and their social emotional skills through art and creative expression. These workshops provide that in an area where there’s a lack of STEAM-related learning.”

Cindy Eggleston, Co-Founder and CEO, Brilliant Detroit

Detroit, MI (September 2020)Kindergarten readiness is a powerful predictor of success later in life. Science shows 80 to 90 percent of the brain is developed by age three, making early childhood the critical time for children to experience high-quality programming. In Detroit, STEAM-based learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) is not readily available for families in need.

Brilliant Detroit is dedicated to building families and neighborhoods so that children 0-8 have what they need to be school ready, healthy and stable. It does this by renovating, establishing and operating community hubs in high-need neighborhoods that offer proven programming to families and children. In Fall 2020, supported by a Walters Family Foundation grant, Brilliant Detroit, will offer STEAM workshops serving up to 224 children and families in seven of its community hubs.

Youth achievement is supported through strong parent engagement at Brilliant Detroit. Photo Courtesy of Zak BrattoDownload a high-resolution version of this photo.

For this particular program, Brilliant Detroit is partnering with LearnEarly to provide 14 hands-on workshops. Children and families will explore different ways of practicing the four Cs of 21st-century learning skills (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication). Parents can then bring these same activities into their own homes to reinforce learning and life skills.

“This kind of learning is important anywhere, but I think it’s especially critical in a city plagued by stressors around poverty and COVID-19,” says Eggleston. “Because our societal emphasis is on safety right now, imagination is becoming tremendously stifled. These workshops allow our families to find play time with their children. At a time like this, you really need to look at what creates resilience and a little bit of that is finding joy. This is a way to find joy.”

While STEAM is the focus of the project, the workshops take place alongside other programs in education, health, and family support. For example, during COVID-19, Brilliant Detroit has coordinated food distribution with Gleaners Food Bank and mental health check-ins with families. “We want people to feel cared about in our neighborhoods,” says Eggleston. Ultimately these offerings are part of an overall effort that is holistic and whole-family focused in order to create the most nurturing environments in which children can grow.

“Our world is changing so fast and children need to be able to have that adaptability,” says Eggleston. “That’s why learning skills around collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity are crucial for a child's development for life.”