Detroit Learning Trip

Activate Change makers

Detroit Learning Trip


Thank you for joining WEPOWER’s Tomorrow Builders Fellowship learning trip to Detroit, Michigan! We are you are joining us to “see the system” in other regions who have embarked on a path of redesigning their early childhood education system.


WEPOWER partners with Black and Latinx communities to build power to re-design education, health, economic, and justice systems to be just and equitable for all. We engage the community and amplify their voices to inform critical decisions that impact their lives. We train community members to create new solutions, advocate, and lead policy and systems change. We invest in businesses and provide coaching and connections as they create jobs in the communities with whom we partner. We envision a future where we all have to power to lead, so every community prospers.

We celebrated our one-year anniversary on April 25th, 2019. Over these past twelve months, we have trained and supported 44 community members with developing new solutions and advocating for policy change for children in East St. Louis and St. Louis City. Those 44 community members have door knocked and phone banked 10,000+ of their neighbors. More than 1,000 residents signed on in support of their policy solutions.

Together, they inspired East St. Louis District 189 to pledge to implement a community school model that has the potential to positively impact hundreds and eventually thousands of youth. Together, they inspired four out of seven of St. Louis Public School’s elected board members to adopt policy solutions that will increase budget transparency and community voice. Together, they listened to 500+ parents and early childhood educators to hear their dreams of change as they imagine a better future for our youth.

Tomorrow Builders Fellowship

We believe building a better tomorrow for St. Louis starts with our kids, our future. Right now, our early childhood education system is poorly designed and hurting folks most impacted by racism, prejudice, and poverty.

Over two years, Fellows will meet at least once a month in-person. There will be some virtual components as well.

The fellowship is for folks who truly care about making a transformational impact so, in year one, Fellows will focus more on gaining the tools, know-how, and network to make change. In year two, they will actually do the changing. This isn’t an all-talk exercise—this is about doing.

The amazing ideas Fellows develop in partnership with a broad network of ECE stakeholders will be published in a playbook that ideally informs a 2020 ballot initiative to increase the access to and quality of ECE. Through the Fellowship, Fellows and the coalition they develop will advocate for their playbook recommendations to be implemented by key decision makers and systems. Fellows will step into governance and decision making roles to continue to amplify and advance the community-driven vision they co-create.

The Fellowship…

  1. is in Phase 1: Seeing the System. This phase consists of Fellows developing a historical context of race and class in St. Louis, diving into understanding the ECE system as it is, which includes reading and analyzing core local ECE reports and initiatives, learning about the science behind ECE, and gaining insight on how other ECE systems operate across the country. This learning trip is part of Seeing the System.

  2. will soon transition to Phase 2: Reimagining the System. This phase consists of Fellows engaging numerous ECE stakeholders and working together to develop equitable solutions to address identified key challenges and opportunities.

Learning Trip Guiding Questions

The learning trip will be guided by four reflection priorities: (1) the actors, (2) the how, (3) the impact, (4) the application.

The Actors

  • Who are the actors in Detroit’s ECE space?

  • What stands out about this?

  • How have they approached the development of their ECE system?

The how

  • What are things that stand out about their approaches?

  • What has been the role of policy?

The impact

  • What has been the role of equity?

  • Have they been effective?

  • Why? Why not?

  • How do you know? What does the (disaggregated) data show?

The Application

  • What does this mean for our work?

  • What might we imagine and build back in St. Louis?

  • What are you still wondering?


Priority readings

Additional reading



  • Strategic Community Partners (1420 Washington Boulevard, Third Floor, Detroit, MI 48226)

    Breakfast & Framing of Trip

    We will discuss the agenda, logistics, do introductions, review the reflection guide for the two-day learning experience, and answer any questions. Hosted by Strategic Community Partners.

  • IFF (3011 West Grand Boulevard,
    Suite 1715, Detroit, MI 48202)

    Hope Starts Here Roundtable: The 10,000 Foot View

  • Brilliant Detroit Southwest House
    (5675 Larkins St, Detroit, MI 48210)

    Lunch & Chat with Detroit Parents and Leaders

  • Brilliant Detroit Southwest House
    (5675 Larkins St, Detroit, MI 48210)

    Brilliant Detroit Southwest House Visit

  • Los Galanes
    (3362 Bagley Street,
    Detroit, MI 48216)

    Dinner with new Detroit friends

  • Artist Village Detroit
    1(7336 Lahser
    Detroit, MI 84219)

    Brightmoor Alliance Community Meeting

  • Aloft Hotel

    Quick breakfast

  • Detroit Parent Network
    (726 Lothrop Street, MI 48202)

    Detroit Parent Network: Parent Meeting The Movers and Shakers View

    A grassroots view of the system

  • Detroit Parent Network
    (726 Lothrop Street, MI 48202)

    Lunch & Detroit Parent Network House Visit

  • Kresge Detroit Office (3965 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201)

    Marygrove P20 Roundtable

  • Kresge Detroit Office (3965 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201)


    Initial Processing & Synthesizing

  • Explore & Enjoy Detroit

    Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (315 East Warren, Detroit, MI 48201)
    Detroit 67 at Detroit Historical Society (5401 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202)
    Heidelberg Project (3600 Heidelberg Street, Detroit, MI 48207)


Tomorrow Builders

ECE Friends



This section outlines the key logistical information you need to know regarding your travel, lodging, and meeting locations. Please read through it carefully before we meet to ensure you have everything you’ll need. If you have any questions on logistics, please contact Joey Saunders at [email protected] or at (816)-206-9081.


  • Joey Saunders, 816-206-9081

  • Charli Cooksey, 314-348-0392

  • Caitlin Lee, 713-504-6866


We will all be staying at the Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney (One Park Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226).

For Fellows and the WEPOWER team, below are room assignments:

  • Kate P. & Morgan

  • Goria & Kate B.

  • Adrienne

  • Charli Cooksey & Caitlin Lee

  • Joey Saunders


WEPOWER will arrange and cover the costs of…

  • Monday breakfast, lunch & dinner

  • Tuesday breakfast & lunch


WEPOWER’s team – Joey, Caitlin, and Charli – will order Lyfts for the travel group to and from each site visit and to the airport on Tuesday evening.


Caitlin Lee will be serving as our “traveling photographer and storyteller.” If you have not completed a media release form, please complete the form at this link ASAP.


WEPOWER will cover all travel, lodging, and meal costs that we arrange for Fellows. For other guests, we will cover all group meals and on the ground travel costs, but lodging and flight must be covered by you or your organization. If you choose to travel or eat on your own while in Tulsa, you will be responsible for covering any associated costs.


Attire for the trip is “wear what makes you comfortable,” but please put your best foot forward, as we’re guests and want to represent WEPOWER and St. Louis well. Remember, if you have signed a media release form, please be prepared for candid shots.


  • A laptop or tablet device, and/or notepad and pen

  • Business cards or contact information, to share with other attendees

  • An umbrella, if the forecast looks rainy

  • A jacket

  • A refillable water bottle

Currently, Detroit is called to have rain on Thursday with a high of 71 degrees and a low of 59 degrees. Friday calls for partial sun and a high of 74 degrees and a low of 61 degrees. You can check the weather here for possible updates and more information.