The DNEP +Impact Studio for Local Business started in the summer of 2020 as an emergency pilot program, bringing University of Michigan students together to help local businesses pivot operations to meet new COVID-19 restrictions. When the call for help went out, the student response was so great that the program quickly took the form of an immersive summer internship, with students working to create a post-COVID resource bank for small businesses.
In 2021 the program evolved again, with thirty-one students from five University of Michigan schools using the skills from their disciplines to provide direct-to-client support to nineteen local businesses in need. A natural extension of the interdisciplinary Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project, the DNEP +ISLB offers students an intensive hands-on experience working collaboratively with fellow students to run a multidisciplinary student staffing agency where interns find solutions to real-life business needs.
The most exciting part for me, a student at the Ford School, is looking at the big picture goals of each business. We work with the business owners to investigate how their story informs their products and brand identity, and then together develop a strategic plan toward achieving those goals, turning a profit, and maintaining a smooth flow of operations.Noelle Seward, BA '21 Ford School of Public Policy