Melanie D’Evelyn

1 Woodward Avenue, #1900

Detroit, MI 48226

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A Conversation With Detroit, MI

Why are you building a pathway locally for adults to come back and complete a degree?

In Detroit, 693,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 have “some college but no degree,” making our region home to one of the country’s largest concentrations of this population who never finished a degree or credential. The Detroit Regional Chamber, through its Detroit Drives Degrees initiative, partners with leaders in business, K-12, higher education, philanthropy, government, and the nonprofit sector to provide a greater educational opportunity. We seek to develop pathways to educate homegrown talent, narrow the equity gap, and meet our region’s workforce needs.

Who were your first champions?

We benefit from numerous cross-sector champions who serve on the Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council and the Chamber’s CEO Talent Council. We could not accomplish this work without the support of our generous donors, which include The Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and the Michigan College Access Network.

What are your goals? Who are you aiming for?

The Detroit Regional Chamber, through its Detroit Drives Degrees initiative, aims to increase the number of residents with high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60% by 2030 and to reduce the racial equity gap by half over the next decade.


We have a particular commitment to serving adult students who have yet to complete a degree or credential. Detroit Drives Degrees helps build strategies to strengthen post-secondary attainment services for adult students at institutions of higher education and with employers. This will enable Southeast Michigan to become a talent hub where employers can attract, hire, retain, and promote a qualified workforce. A talented workforce attracts businesses to the Southeast Michigan region for relocation or expansion. 

Why does this work matter?

Like other metropolitan areas across the nation, Southeast Michigan faces challenges in educating a skilled workforce to meet labor market demand. The new Detroit Drives Degrees initiative will support adult students returning to finish college. Detroit Drives Degrees will mainly focus on helping adults age 25 and over — many of whom are already in the workforce — complete high-quality certificates or degrees in high-demand career fields.


Detroit Drives Degrees has the capacity to support thousands of returning adult students to realize their ambitions for the future. While the program will provide positive benefits for returning adult students, it is also expected to have a positive impact on their children, their workplaces, and the Southeast Michigan region.

Why is your community an awesome place?

Detroit is the heart of Southeast Michigan; it is the largest city in the state. The region is full of surprises, with cities just waiting to be discovered. Explore the vibrant art, re-energized entertainment, and culinary scene of the region. We are the perfect community with the right combination of business, educational assets, and community leadership that continues to partner, collaborate and lead to make Southeast Michigan the best place to live, work, learn, and play.

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