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The Better Detroit Brownie Company hasn't added a story.
Often, when we speak of Detroit, we hear of scarcity rather than abundance.
But I know better.
My name is Reuben Lee Gordon. For the past 15 years, I’ve had the honor of serving as a co-director with The Better Detroit Youth Movement, a non-profit coalition driven by volunteers -- incredible individuals and great groups -- working together to improve the quality of life and learning for -- and with -- our children, teens, and young adults.
We’ve hosted Live in Peace art parties at Wayne State, job fairs at Bert’s Warehouse, scholarship fairs at Cobo Hall, healthy youth resource fairs at Don Bosco Hall, administered teen intervention programs with the Wayne County Court system, mentored thousands of high school students, partnered with schools and churches, led Million Father Marches, youth resource summits, community clean-ups, and more.
I believe in the power and value of collaboration and have worked with many youth-serving individuals and organizations, and community-based organizations, in support of a collective mission and vision to grow a Greater Detroit for our children. In this capacity, I have been inspired by so many people working to enrich our young generation so more of them succeed in school and life. I have witnessed glaring examples of what a better Detroit can be, as well as glaring examples of what our children should see and can be.
Resources For Our Youth
My truth is Detroit has all the resources to improve the quality of life and learning for her children.
There is a wide world of youth resources all over Greater Detroit. That’s why I created a map with more than 325 resources for our children ( www.detroityouthresources.org ).
Baking Brownies For Our Children
Knowing most Detroit teens may not have a PC at home or a laptop in a backpack, but most have a mobile device, and thinking it made sense to turn this youth resource map into a mobile app to connect teens to these options and opportunities on their preferred device of communication, we approached a foundation for financial support. When the foundation declined to endorse this effort, a young man on our youth advisory board said, “You know those brownies JaJa (my daughter) and you bake for our youth events? We’re going to sell them to fund the mapping effort and turn your brownies into our own golden girl scout cookie.”
So we spent the next two Augusts on warm afternoons, sweating in hot kitchens with cool kids -- my kids, kids on the block, and kids in our youth group -- testing, tasting and tweaking about a dozen brownie recipes. We talked about taste and texture, ingredients for success, and the basics of baking, We learned things like measuring, math, patience, confidence, and perseverance, and about how we didn’t have to be the best (brownie), but the best (brownie) we can be. We weren’t just baking brownies for Detroiters, we’re baking brownies for folks in West Bloomfield, kids in Ann Arbor, and for a refined, diverse cross-section of brownie lovers everywhere.
After a lot of fun, funny conversations, a lot of learning (and some burning), we finally baked a batch of Better Detroit Brownies we felt worthy of our children and adults would enjoy too.
Once we had our dark cocoa brownie recipe, we decided to bake a special variety we called Sweet & Spicy -- that if people liked, they had to come to us to get. We told the kids “It’s okay and may pay to be different.”
In the fall of 2018, we bought four kids and 250 Better Detroit Brownies to The World’s Largest Food Truck Rally on Belle Isle. We sold out in less than two hours, and customers loved our Sweet & Spicy version. We now had the social proof and consumer confidence to officially launch The Better Detroit Brownie Company.
Today, The Better Detroit Brownie Company is a licensed, commercially insured, ServSafe certified, "for youth / by youth" social enterprise managed by The Better Detroit Youth Movement.
Our dark cocoa and sweet & spicy gourmet brownies (and forthcoming vegan brownies) support various youth and community causes.
Better Detroit Brownies will soon be showcased and sold at Rivertown Meijer Market, The Congregation Detroit, Seasons Market, Pump 5 Grille, Dave and Amy's (Walled Lake), and other retailers and restaurants. We see this as an amazing opportunity to form collectively beneficial community partnerships with these establishments. We also see this as a wonderful way to give consumers a delicious reason to open their mouths, hearts, purses, and wallets in enriching our communities of children.
As the pandemic subsides, we will begin to train underserved teenagers on life and business skills, and emotional self-control skills. Participating teens will then “intern” selling Better Detroit Brownies door-to-door and store-to-store. We know most young people love something positive and productive to take part in, and this is a wonderful way for them to make money and give back to others as they grow. Our vision is to create a new age of social entrepreneurs.
As we move forward in the new year and safer world, The Better Detroit Youth Movement is preparing for the launch of a monthly e-newsletter, FOR GREATER DETROIT CHILDREN, to highlight powerful youth-serving individuals and organizations that enrich our young generation every day. Contributors to this effort are welcome.
We're also seeking:
- Restaurants and retailers who'd like to carry our products of purpose;
- Businesses or companies that will partner with our Brownies For Business Program by purchasing a brownie tray once every 30 to 90 days (or for special events);
- Teenagers who want to be involved in our life and business skills program slated to launch this spring;
- Adults who want to volunteer in our life and business skills program; and,
- Organizations interested in partnering with us in better engaging and enriching our youth;
- Your support or donation to purchase a van that will serve as a promotional vehicle to deliver brownies to our retail and restaurant partners, and to transport teens in our training program.
If you'd like to sample a Better Detroit Brownie, let us know. Most folks who try one, buy some. And if you love seeing our children succeed, you’ll love Better Detroit Brownies.
Be a HERO for Detroit!
Your support will help us purchase a van that will be “wrapped” as a promotional vehicle featuring both the youth movement and brownie company logos, and allow us to transport brownies to retailers and restaurants carrying our products of purpose. The van will also be used to transport Detroit area teens to and from our training program.
1. Donate. C'mon, you want a brownie. We know you do! Claim a brownie bundle to the right or simply hit that Contribute button above to directly empower Detroit youth.
2. Share. Did you know that your power to help exists a whole lot more than what you can contribute? We understand that not everybody is in a position to help and that not everyone likes or eats brownies. But you can help just as much by sharing this campaign with your network. Click on one of the social sharing links above and share a brownie with your family and friends right now!
Thanks for helping us make (and bake) a Greater Detroit our children deserve.
HighlightsSee all activity4
Building Futures in Skilled Trades
Exposing youth to various trades in the construction industry such as heavy equipment, masonry, carpentry, safety, and support for resumes, interviews, job searches, and career planning
Total Makeover Challenge
Empowering young people interested in the beauty industry - building their skills and confidence through practice and mentorship.
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