The Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project (DNEP)
DNEP is the University of Michigan’s interdisciplinary engagement with small businesses in the City of Detroit. DNEP connects small businesses in Detroit with University of Michigan faculty, students, and staff to learn from, and contribute to, economic development and business innovation in Detroit’s neighborhoods.
DNEP matches UM faculty and students with small businesses for professional services consulting projects. Engagements are typically a semester or year-long and organized through a UM course, clinic, or student organization. UM student teams provide free strategic consulting work, legal assistance, design strategy, and other work on complex business problems. Small businesses are matched with schools and classes based on their business needs and interests.
Through DNEP, UM students apply skills learned in the classroom to challenging, real-life problems facing small businesses and entrepreneurs. Students learn how to think critically, act strategically, work in a team, and practice managing client relationships. DNEP aims to foster a life-long connection with community engagement, particularly with the City of Detroit.
Small businesses receive free business, legal, and/or design consulting work that can help grow their venture, and are able to build lasting connections with the University of Michigan research and entrepreneurial networks.
An interdisciplinary team of faculty across the University provide guidance and direction for DNEP. DNEP sits under UM’s Center for Finance, Law and Policy, and is housed at the University of Michigan Detroit Center.