Racial Equity Fellowship

At the Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL), we develop leaders who work to end structural racism. We equip leaders with tools to disrupt racism and create equitable alternatives in policies, institutions, and culture in Detroit.

Through our Racial Equity Fellowship, we bring together the people and organizations working in the many dimensions of racial equity—including arts and media, community development, education, environment, food security, health care, and housing—to develop a shared analysis of structural racism and white supremacy and to build a tool kit for creating equitable alternatives.

[2014-15 Cohort]

[2015-16 Cohort]

[2016-17 Cohort]

[2019 Cohort]

[2020 Cohort]

[2021 Cohort]

What is our focus?

Our program focuses on racial equity from a personal to structural lens. We believe that the transformation of movements is dependent on the transformation of the people in them. Everyone comes to our Racial Equity Fellowship as an expert of their own experiences. In these interconnected worlds, our role is in providing the tools to deepen our fellows' understanding and fortify their work. We recognize that co-liberation toward racial equity is as much about our personal journeys as it is about addressing oppressive systems. With that understanding, we encourage all of our fellows to find and connect to anti-racism movement ancestors, as a means of personal and movement transformation.

How do we define racial equity?

Racial equity centers the humanity and dignity of all people, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. It begins with acknowledging those historically and systemically harmed by a racial hierarchy that perpetuates white supremacy and anti-Blackness. It demands that our communities have the power to replace racist policies, institutions, and culture with a collective commitment toward co-liberation.

Fellowship Learning Objectives:

  • Build structural racism analysis

  • Deepen understanding of structural racism in Detroit and Detroit's history

  • Understand one’s own racial(ized) identity

  • Explore multi-racial coalitions and how white supremacy culture shows up for all racial groups

  • Move from allyship to co-liberation

Fellows' Characteristics:

  • Possess a deep personal commitment to racial equity

  • Are critical thinkers who ask questions about the systems that govern our lives

  • Are respectful and open to different ideas and perspectives, and honor their voices and actively listen

  • Actively challenge the status quo and dominant narratives

  • Believe they can positively influence racial equity in Detroit and beyond

  • Have demonstrated an understanding and pursuit of racial equity

  • Desire to be a part of and fully participate in a diverse learning community and network

  • Are willing to sit with discomfort

Stories from Community Experts

Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) Racial Equity Fellows are community experts working on the ground to fight structural racism in Detroit. Read stories on their work in local and national media.

Racial Equity Fellowship: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who can apply?

  • We welcome emerging and experienced leaders with a deep commitment to racial equity, from all of Detroit's ethnic and racial groups, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, and backgrounds.

  • We welcome applicants working/volunteering for groups and organizations (or as individuals) in a wide variety of sectors and various levels of budgets and experience, from volunteer-based organizations to non-profits and beyond.

  • We accept applicants who live or work in Detroit or the metropolitan area.

Why should I apply?

  • Participate in high-quality skills building with other Detroit-area racial equity leaders.

  • Deepen relationships and join a cohesive network dedicated to addressing structural racism.

  • Gain a better understanding of the historical context shaping Detroit's racial inequality.

  • Learn and experiment with new techniques to address structural racism.

  • Develop the skills needed to affect meaningful change, to disrupt beliefs and influence public policy on racial equity.

  • Engage in strategy sessions and plan joint action.

  • Work together to define a vision for moving Detroit toward greater racial equity.

When does the application open?

When is the application deadline?

  • The deadline to apply is Friday, June 10, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.

When does the fellowship begin?

  • It will begin in September 2022.

How long is the fellowship?

  • It is a 12-month fellowship.

Where does the fellowship take place?

  • The 2022 cohort year will be a hybrid model, convening virtually and in-person. Fellows will be notified of details in advance.

When does the fellowship take place?

  • Monthly mandatory sessions are on the second Thursdays of the month. Optional sessions are on the fourth Thursdays of the month. Any two-day sessions (including orientation) and are held on Thursdays and Fridays. In-person sessions are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Virtual sessions are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fellows will be notified of details in advance.

What are the fellowship’s goals?

  • Build and help strengthen a cohesive and diverse network of local leaders acting to increase racial equity.

  • Increase the effectiveness of local organizations’ capacity to address racial equity and catalyze change.

  • Create a shared understanding of structural racism and the ways it plays out in the Detroit region.

  • Translate equity lab lessons into action steps, policy recommendations, and improved public awareness.

What makes DEAL's fellowship unique?

  • We are a learning community: We emphasize learning new skills and frameworks to challenge systemic racism in the Detroit region and beyond.

  • We are a support network: Challenging racism is hard, painful work. Together, we co-create a space to support each other and celebrate our successes.

  • We are an action lab: We create opportunities to put our skills and resources into action together to drive equitable change.

  • We provide space to reflect: We ask about the lessons we have learned, what we have gained, and how we move forward.

Who leads the fellowship?

  • Our Racial Equity Fellowship is led by Fellowship Manager Rhiannon Chester-Bey. The fellowship curriculum and sessions are co-facilitated by the Design Team. You can see their bios here. Sessions also occasionally include guest presenters and facilitators.

How many fellows are in each cohort?

  • Approximately 30 fellows are accepted each year.

Is this a paid fellowship?

  • This is not a paid fellowship.

Do I have to pay to participate?

  • No. DEAL is a free leadership development fellowship.

What are the fellowship's commitments?

  • Commit to being present at the orientation retreat (September 2022) and monthly full-day sessions. Fellows will be notified of details in advance.

  • Willingness to engage in reflection, self-assessment, and act for change on individual, organizational, and community levels.

  • Commit to co-creating a culture of dialogue that supports difficult conversations about racism and accountability.

  • Willingness to learn and experiment with new skills and collaborate with other DEAL members on racial equity projects beyond the fellowship year.

  • Willingness to share your expertise, perspectives, and other resources to strengthen others in the network.

  • Be open to engage in DEAL activities in between sessions and staying connected beyond the fellowship year.

  • Take advantage of opportunities to build relationships with DEAL alumni.

Is there coursework?

  • There are homework assignments after most sessions, relating to personal reflection. There is also a project that fellows complete in groups. Assignments require thought and effort; however, they are not labor intensive.

Is attendance mandatory?

  • Yes, attendance is mandatory for the orientation retreat and main sessions. Optional sessions are not mandatory.

What if I am absent?

  • Fellows are allowed three absences. If four or more sessions are missed, you will be dismissed from the fellowship and encouraged to re-apply when you are able to fully participate.

What am I expected to do once the fellowship is complete?

  • After the fellowship is complete, fellows join the alumni network. Alumni are invited to stay engaged via invitations to professional development opportunities, social gatherings, and collaborative lab projects.

How can my organization support the fellowship?

  • Consider attendance at DEAL fellowship sessions as paid work time (if employed at a funded organization).

  • Provide opportunities to share information and resources from the fellowship with others throughout the organization.

  • Engage in an organizational self-assessment and transformation to experiment with and integrate lessons learned.