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As a part of its continuing and decades-long efforts to provide new opportunities to Detroit students, Olympia Development of Michigan joined Related Companies to host 20 Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) high school students in the Project Destined paid internship program to learn about and work onexamples of new construction and historic restoration right here in their hometown. 

During the six-week program, Olympia Development and Related experts have connected with the interns via video conferencing, email and phone to discuss their professional journeys, and in late June, students got to meet subject matter experts and see three different ODM development properties in person. Through their sessions, students have learned about finance, accounting, architecture, design, construction and more.

Combining real-world experience with the mentoring they’ve received, students toured the iconic Fox Theatre, a National Historic Landmark, the Little Caesars World Headquarters, and the former Women’s City Club, which is currently being restored to reflect its original beauty.

“This is a great experience to learn about the real world,” said Mohammed Mooksens, a student at Cass Technical High School who aspires to be a computer engineer. “I found out today that there will be offices inside the Women’s City Club, so they’re going to need people to fix computers there, and that excites me. I feel like I can connect to this; like I can come back and work here one day.” 

While touring, students met with Ilitch Holdings Director of Curation and Collections, Marcel Parent and Olympia Development’s Vice President of design and architect Leo Mendez.

“The Detroit Public Schools Community District is honored to have our students participate in the Project Destined internship program to gain skills, create resume builders and prepare them for the next phases of their lives. Whether college, trade school or the workforce, this program shows the varied options available right here in Detroit,” said Alycia Meriweather, DPSCD deputy superintendent of partnerships.

Partnerships like this one close the gap and give youth opportunities they wouldn’t receive in a classroom.

“The talent, professionalism, and attention to detail in the student presentations was a tribute to their dedication these last weeks,” said Ryan Friedrichs, Vice President of Development at Related. “Teaching real-world skills to our future community and business leaders before they venture into the real world gives them a leg up against the competition.”

While learning the basics of business, real estate, investing and management, interns – who are 11th and 12thgrade students – worked with leading executives and companies in the industry while participating in live deals and simulations. 

For duration of the program, interns were paid and competed for additional prizes at the conclusion of the internship program when they presented their mock development proposal based on a real-world property in Detroit.

“We have and will continue to engage with the people of Detroit to both show our development progress, and also to listen to their thoughts about how future development can positively impact their community,” said Rian Barnhill, vice president of Government and Community Affairs at Olympia Development of Michigan. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Detroit Public Schools Community District to help educate and learn new ideas from their students.”

“With support from private institutions who share our vision, we strive to provide opportunities which students would not be able to get anywhere else,” said Cedric Bobo, Founder of Project Destined. 

Project Destined is a social impact platform seeking to educate underserved communities with financial and investment literacy. The organization has partnerships in cities across the country, specifically urban schools. To learn more, visit ProjectDestined.com.