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Learning at its Best

Detroit Minds and Hearts

God says in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims (followers of Islam), “Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (Quran 13:11).  It was this verse that inspired several young professionals in Detroit to create the Detroit Minds and Hearts Fellowship.

The Fellows, many of whom have never camped or spent a night outdoors, attend one of our first exposure activities. These activities are designed to push the Fellows beyond their comfort zones.

Change doesn’t come easy. But it starts with our youth. The Detroit Minds and Hearts fellowship is a youth-empowerment program delivered by MAS (Muslim American Society) Youth Detroit. We aim to Recognize the potential of our youth, Refine their skills and Retain their drive toward social justice. Skill-building is great, but those skills are worthless if they’re never put to use. Our program is unique because during the fellowship, the youth learn about cross-cultural and cross-generational leaders for social justice and develop critical thinking skills to be able to take the lessons from these leaders to the streets by identifying problems in their local communities and launching action-plans to address them. The fellowship will also grant the fellows a scholarship to use towards their college education or their community initiative.

Click here to watch the video documenting our inaugural launch.  We are currently 10 weeks into the Fellowship and updates to follow.

“Today, I will risk making a change by standing for what I believe in. Today, I will stop only dreaming and start taking action…God willing” – 2011 DMH Fellow



12 thoughts on “Detroit Minds and Hearts

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I would love to have some of the fellows comment on this post and let us know their unique experience with this program.


    Posted by dloitz | September 7, 2011, 2:16 pm
  2. What can I say about DMH? Well, it forces me to take a look at problems in our lives that we usually ignore, and encourages me to take action, whether small or large, because everything counts. It helps me to realize I need to do things on my own and not always wait for instruction, because 10 years from now, I can’t be a puppet with others pulling my strings. It really instills something in me that changes the way I look at things, not for a day or 16 weeks, but for a lifetime. It’s created memories for me that brought people in my community together as a group and made us stronger, but in a way that we’re not just clinging to each other, but we’re branching out to others to join the effort without feeling intimidated. It taught me to be proud of who I am, and even if everyone else is sitting down and too scared to do something, stand up and say a few words, and we can trust people will respect the fact that we had the guts to do it. It taught me that if I feel uncomfortable about something, to do something about, and taught me how to strengthen my arguement so that I can prove my point without YELLING!!! It reminds me there are people who care, and they’re close to me, and you don’t need to be a big shot movie star, or senator to make a difference in your world and the world of others. And Inshallah, many others get the chance that I had with this program and that it continues to be successful!

    Posted by Hana | September 7, 2011, 9:11 pm
  3.          I have always been the type of person whose wanted to make a difference in those that I felt needed it. I’m not a person of HUGE change,but just one who likes to better things,when needed. In my opinion I’ve always been a self-motivated person but there was always that something missing. The Detroit Minds and Hearts Fellowship has helped me develop that. What was missing was the passion. Not saying I didn’t show emotion and feeling at all,but it wasn’t too often and was very little. DMH helped me develop this passion by figuring out what inspires me. With some of the activites we did like starting on our community initiatives,camping,etc allowed me to actually just think am I motivated enough? The answer was no…no until I figured out what inspired me. I feel like DMH can take major credit for that because had I not joined I would still be this ungrateful,stubborn, individual. And,I wouldn’t have taken the time to just think about it.                            
             So as you may all be wondering what is it? What inspires me. Truthfully, many things. But a main inspiration are those less fortunate than I am. I mean extremely less fortunate than myself. This inspiration has impacted me so much. Where I am now;every time I want to give up or I complain about something so small. I just sink into deeper thoughts. I think how dare I give up on so and so when I have parents,food,a place of living,growing education etc. when some of my peers don’t even have a tiny bit of my that. 

    Posted by Nabintoi Doumbia | September 7, 2011, 10:10 pm
  4. Wow seems like Hana said everything…but DMH is a program that pushes me, like motivates me to take action. During each of the sessions we have it makes me think outside the box, looking at a problem in different ways and views. What really stands out to me is the name “Detroit Minds and Hearts”, because after every session or blog topic that we have or do It makes me think about how they are trying to get to our Minds and Hearts. It makes me think deeply how can i put my “talk into action”, how can I be a leader, and how can i stop complaining about change and make a change in my community.

    Posted by Fanta | September 7, 2011, 11:13 pm
  5. I just wanted to comment that reading your comment is inspiring and also reminds me the power of coming together to help each grow and develop.

    My question to all three and any other DMH fellow is… How can could DMH type learning, transform traditional education?

    What parts of DMH would you want your past schools or learning communities to adopt?

    And also

    What is one thing that any of us could do tomorrow that would help us make the world better?

    I invited to either comment here or if you want work on a collective post and we will make sure it gets posted on the Cooperative Catalyst! It does not need to be written words either, a video would be even better!

    Thanks for sharing this!

    David Loitz

    Posted by dloitz | September 8, 2011, 12:01 am
  6. Here another great video about DMH from their youtube channel

    Posted by dloitz | September 8, 2011, 12:08 am
  7. DMH is just simply incredibly inspiring–a model for the rest of us, and thank you Fellows for your comments too. To follow up on David’s question, what are you learning at DMH that could help transform conventional education and educatioal systems?

    In appreciation and with respect,


    Posted by Kirsten | September 8, 2011, 2:51 pm
  8. All of this is awesome and so much more reflective than school is of how people come together and work towards a vision in business and non-profits. Please share your work widely as a model and social justice initiative.

    With gratitude,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | September 8, 2011, 6:55 pm
  9.       I’m currently in school,finally a freshman in high school! In this post I’m going to answer this question posed by a commenter “what parts of DMH would you want your schools or learning communities to adopt?” I being,the youngest fellow in DMH,love how the group doesn’t discriminate in age. When I was in middle school a few months ago and even now being in high school, it irritates me so much how the middle school students weren’t given as much attention to as the high school students. I have yet to experience this at DMH. 
          This is definitely one of the things I would like my school to adopt. I feel like their so focused on the high school students most times because obviously after high school we’ll be in college and university. Even though, they still have to pay some kind of attention to the middle school students. In my opinion due to my experiences if you teach a child young as long as they continue to practice your teachings,their good.      
         For example,my little brother has been sucking his thumb since he a week old,maybe earlier. My dad began to stress how important it was to get him to stop but my mom being a MOM was like “no leave my baby alone” and that stuff.  Now my little brother’s four years old and he still sucks his thumb! 
           All of that to say that I feel like if my school begins telling the middle school students the high school requirements and basically what their in store for when they get there…when theses students become high schoolers they’ll be better prepared. And possibly more likely to become better students once they enter high school.

    Posted by Nabintou Doumbia | September 10, 2011, 2:36 am
  10. Hi all and thank you so much for your comments.

    I actually love the question David asked: What is one thing that any of us could do tomorrow that would help us make the world better?

    I’m using it for next week’s session with the Fellows. As for sharing what they reply with, we’re actually in the process of collecting critical principles and structures for youth engagement and organizing (both in schools and outside of schools). My post before this one dealt with how we’re taking some of these principles and injecting them into 12 classrooms in 12 different Detroit schools.

    So, Chad, we are diligently documenting our work here in Detroit in order to share what we discover far and wide. And the best part is that it’s not just the adults speaking but the youth as well. We’re always looking for advice and resources so please feel free to send them our way as well 😀

    Posted by ammerahsaidi | September 10, 2011, 6:34 am
  11. This is a blog post about my personal experience being a youth ally in this program.
    Check it out:

    Posted by Amany Killawi | September 13, 2011, 3:51 pm


  1. Pingback: Detroit Minds and Hearts | Cooperative Catalyst | - September 7, 2011

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