‘I Dream Detroit’ Study Seeks to Uplift Women of Color in Economic Revitalization

Detroit Vegan Soul Owners Erika Boyd and Kirsten Ussery-Boyd, Photo Courtesy of the Institute for Policy Studies

The Black Worker Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies seeks to uplift the voices of Detroit’s largest, and most marginalized, demographic as the city moves towards economic revitalization.

“I Dream Detroit: The Voice and Vision of Women of Color on Detroit’s Future” is a report that sheds a light on the women of color that have contributed to Detroit’s economic development, but are often left out of the conversation for such development in the future.

Major findings of the study showed that, of the 500 women of color who participated in the study, 71 percent said they do not feel included in Detroit’s economic development plans.

Many of these women include entrepreneurs that still strive to support their community. Nineteen percent of respondents included business owners and nonprofit leaders, 52 percent of whom stated that they employ individuals from disadvantaged communities.

In an interview with The Root Kimberly Freeman Brown, “I Dream Detroit” lead author, voiced her sentiments about the lack of representation for women of color in the city’s plans for economic revitalization.

“How is it that the images I see about Detroit’s revival don’t often include these women?” Brown said.

“Imagining and building a new Detroit without their meaningful participation will prevent Detroit from fully coming into its potential and promise.”

The study doesn’t leave off without offering viable suggestions for how these women of color, named by the study as “solutionaries,” can be included as more prominent voices. Some of the solutions included investing in these women’s businesses and nonprofits, involving them in conversations about Detroit’s economic future, and implementing a “pipeline for recruitment into key leadership positions.

Women of color make up 91 percent of all women in Detroit. The “I Dream Detroit” Project launched in spring 2016 and included the perspectives of 500 women citywide, through focus groups and a survey. Learn more about the study here.

Kesi Felton


Kési Felton is a junior Journalism major from Atlanta, Georgia.She currently serves as the Content Director for Her Campus Howard and the Director of Communications for the Howard University Student Association. In addition to writing her own personal blog, she has written articles for The Hilltop, Walker's Legacy and Pretty Girls Sweat, LLC. Through digital storytelling, Kési hopes to amplify the voices and stories of underrepresented communities, beginning with Black women.

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