Youth Development Commission announces new president, college readiness initiatives for Detroit kids

The Youth Development Commission (YDC), has named Donna Givens Williams, former managing partner of Visions Education, as their new president. Williams has many years of experience in both nonprofit management and youth development. She is charged with building new pathways of opportunity for young people in Detroit, including those who are otherwise not on track for college or career readiness.

Although she started at her new post several months ago, the board elected to wait to announce her appointment until their new offices in Midtown were near completion and the new brand campaign was launched.

The Youth Development Commission was formerly known as the Youth and Sports Recreation Commission. It was founded in 1995, as an initiative of the Skillman Foundation, to fund and build capacity of organizations that support activities for young people in Detroit. Today, The Youth Development Commission has evolved to provide direct services to young people in need of jobs, college and career direction, and out-of-school time support (OTS).

Only 2.3% of Detroit Public School students graduate college-ready, according to the Michigan Department of Education (2013). The American Community Survey (2011) indicates that 60% of youth ages 16 to 19 and 40% ages 20 to 24 are unemployed. There is also extensive evidence of a skills mismatch between the youth workforce and sustainable job opportunities.

“We simply must ensure that Detroit’s emerging young adults are developing marketable job skills and are prepared to support their families and to participate in the economic growth of our region,” Williams said. “This means we have work to do, strengthening career awareness, remediation of basic skills, developing college and career pathways, and building knowledge and efficacy within the school and workplace environments.”

The Youth Development Commission’s current programs include Youth Employment Solutions (YES), a partnership with the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation and Michigan Works, and 21st Century After-School Programs, in partnership with Detroit Public Schools.

“YDC has also appointed three new board members: Sharon Jackson from The Clairmount Group, PLC, Carrie Clark from Henry Ford Health Systems and Tonya Heidelberg-Yopp from Linked Learning Detroit.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Youth Development Commission will hold an open house at their new location in Midtown Detroit at 30 E. Canfield on the second floor of the JVS building, from 5 to 9 pm during the 41st annual Noel Night, to educate youth and the public about the YDC programs and employment opportunities. The event will also feature caroling, games and refreshments. The event is free and open to the public.

The Youth Commission’ move will, bring new resources for youth and family support, as well as college and career preparation, to a central Detroit location. The new space will a computer lab, a teen center and a multipurpose training room.

For more information regarding programming and development, contact Audrean Williams, director of Development and Communications, at (313) 963-8916 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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