Empowering Detroit's Youth and Families: A Model of Integrated Services

Detroit is a city with a rich cultural history, but it has also been plagued by gang violence and other social issues. In 1997, Angela Reyes founded the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC) from her living room because she “was tired of burying children.” Since then, DHDC has grown to become a nationally recognized model of integrated services focused on youth and families, including gang prevention and intervention, drop-out prevention, training in entrepreneurial skills and multimedia arts, support services for individuals transitioning out of prison, such as case management, job readiness and placement, and tattoo removal, substance abuse, youth and family counseling, HIV counseling and testing, adult education classes, and training in technology

Reyes is the founder and executive director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, a non-profit community-based organization serving the Southwest Detroit community for over 20 years. Under her leadership, DHDC has provided quality, innovative, and culturally appropriate services to over 5,000 youth and adults annually. Reyes’ vision is to create a stable and safe community where youth and families have opportunities for self-empowerment, education, and personal wealth.

One of the most impressive programs that Reyes has developed is the Gang Retirement and Continuing Education and Employment program (GRACE), which was formed after forging a truce with leaders of rival gangs, who agreed to leave the gangs in return for jobs. GRACE has successfully reduced gang violence and provided young people with the skills and resources needed to succeed.

Reyes is also a founding board member of the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center, established in 1995, which involves multiple funded research and intervention projects aimed at increasing knowledge and addressing factors associated with health disparities of residents in Detroit, Michigan. She is actively involved in several community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects examining and addressing social and physical environmental determinants of health and capacity building for policy change.

Reyes is an international speaker and consultant on cultural awareness, youth gangs and violence, substance abuse, community-based participatory research, policy development, and community organizing. She is a youth director at Latino Family Services, a graduate of the University of Michigan with a Master’s in Public Health in Policy and Administration. She has completed executive education at Harvard Kennedy School in community problem-solving.

Through her work, Reyes has made a difference by creating life-changing opportunities for youth and their families in Detroit. Her passion and dedication have inspired others to join her in this important work. Detroit is a better place because of Reyes and the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation; her impact will be felt for generations.

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