The Network teaches Detroit students the value of connection

Published

Editor's note: This article initially appeared at QuickenLoans.org.

The Network is a program partnership between Quicken Loans and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan based in two local Detroit schools, Frank Cody High School and Osborn College Preparatory Academy.

Now celebrating four years, The Network continues to provide college and career preparation to kids in high school, bridging the gap between classroom learning and real world application.

The program runs biweekly from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., February through early May. Sessions take place before class, focusing on real world skills such as the personal branding, background and credit, resume building, mock interviews, college readiness, and career exploring.

United Way is ensuring that everyone has the education, economic prosperity and health they need to stand on their own and give back to their community and focuses on four areas of impact: Child Development, Healthy Kids, College and Career Pathways and Basic Needs.

“In our College and Career Pathways work, we’re connecting classroom learning with real world problem solving,” says Terrance Collins, work-based learning Director of College and Career Readiness at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

“If the learning is not relevant for students, it means nothing to them. If we can make that connection, that makes it relevant for our students.”

The Network has been servicing the students of Osborn for four years. Typically, 30 students enter the program.

“The students at Osborn are every bit as brilliant and tenacious as you’re going to find in students anywhere,” says Collins. “What they don’t have are opportunities. And this was a way to give them an opportunity to see what it was like to be in a professional setting and while also exposing them to the professional setting, imparting some knowledge on them for various things.”

The Network Teaches Detroit Students the Value of Connection - Quicken Loans in the Community

The program was very intentional and organized, regarding the curriculum. The mentors are able to spend time with students, imparting wisdom on the professional world and what they should expect.

“Many of our students have not been downtown,” reveals Collins. “They don’t know what it is to be in a high-rise or just to be in an office where there are other people working. This program gives them an opportunity to connect with people who can relate to them and can tell them ‘hey, I started in the same place that you’re in now, and I’m here.’ And it shows them that there is a road map.”

This year, The Network is expanding to add Cody High School, anticipating an additional 30 students to the program, bringing the grand total to 60 students in Detroit.

The idea behind the merger was the intention of teaching networking skills to the students, bridging the gap between the two schools.

The Network Teaches Detroit Students the Value of Connection - Quicken Loans in the Community

“We want students to understand the importance of expanding their networks and to take advantage of every opportunity,” Collins explains, adding that the expansion to include Cody was huge for students. “Now, these students from across town have the ability to connect with one another.”

“The best part of this program is seeing that light bulb go on for students, and seeing them envision new possibilities for themselves.”

Collins describes the energy of the Quicken Loans’ team members as “phenomenal,” saying, “They have high energy; they just get it. They understand. They remember what it was like to be a high school student and that has been so much fun to watch, for me.”

As the program is currently well underway, the dedicated Quicken Loans team members are continually investing in the youth of Detroit, providing opportunities of education and hope for a promising professional career.