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YOUTH TRANSIT IN DETROIT PHASE I TAKING THE FIRST STEP INTO THE FUTURE FOR DETROIT SCHOOL CHILDREN October to December 2015


Dear Reader, What you are about to read is not a scientific, scholarly or quantitative study. It is the journey of a small innovation group inside a century old organization. In the fall of 2015 we started on a project focused on improving the lives of Detroit students-we heard getting to and from school was an issue but we didn't know much more. In the past three months we have talked to our colleagues, school administrators, teachers, parents and most importantly students to understand the complexity of the problem. We had a single question- what are the effects of an unsafe, unreliable and inefficient student transportation system on students? Our findings point to the interlinking that exists between: a student arriving chronically late to school and a teacher’s ability to teach, a bus card needed to get to school and at the same time making you a target for robbery, walking down a poorly lit street in the morning causing stress and anxiety throughout the day and anticipation of taking the same route home. United Way X (UWX) has been working toward a novel solution inside an incredibly complex system- safe and reliable transportation to and from school for all the students in Detroit. The project has been an exciting and, at times, a challenging journey that we can't help but share. We present you with our findings around youth transit in Detroit. The solution seems ambitious yet it is something that exists in many other school districts outside of Detroit. We now have a better understanding of the problem, but who is actually going to do something about it? This report is meant to spark a conversation and a reaction. Sincerely Yours, The UWX Team 1


CONTENTS CONTEXT

3

UNITED WAY INTERNAL INTERVIEWS

5

CODY COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS

13

STUDENT WORKSHOP: IN THEIR OWN HANDS

21

THE LOOP: ROUTE EVALUATION AND FEEDBACK

29

NEXT STEPS

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CONTEXT In the summer of 2015 the Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children (CFDS) published a report that included recommendations on critical changes that need to take place to improve the education ecosystem in Detroit. The report discussed transportation to school as a critical barrier. Currently Detroit has no equitable or reliable transportation system for all students in the city of Detroit. In June of 2015 the Detroit Bus Company and several other community organizations were convened by the Mayor’s office to discuss the Success Express, a transportation program that was developed in Denver, Colorado for the Denver Public School system. Given UWSEM’s involvement in the CFDS, it was suggested that a prototype of the Success Express be developed and prototyped in conjunction with the Detroit Bus Company. The Success Express in Denver provides transportation for all K-12 students requiring them to walk less than .5 mile to the nearest stop and guaranteeing that they arrive to school safely. The route operates in a loop with several buses running continuously in the morning and afternoon, providing students several opportunities to board the bus. The United Way for Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM) has positioned itself as one of the champions of education for our community. The creation of the Turnaround High Schools has been one of the ways that UWSEM has prioritized the education of our youth. However, transportation to and from school is not currently a service that all Detroit schools provide, making it difficult for students to get to class. 3


PROJECT TIMELINE

Internal Community Student Interviews Conversations Workshop

Bus Prototype

Next Steps

4


1

UNITED WAY INTERNAL INTERVIEWS In the fall of 2015 UWX began conducting short interviews with United Way staff to seek their knowledge about youth transit in Detroit. Over the course of two weeks we were able to discover key themes.

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CIRCLE OF CONCERN FINDING #1

OUR WORK IS IMPACTED BY POOR PUBLIC TRANSIT But few have personal experience, instead a lot of our information is drawn from the media or word of mouth

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“When I think about students riding DDOT as a way to get to school, it’s overwhelming…” 7


STUDENT ENVIRONMENT FINDING #2

THE PUBLIC BUS IS TOO DANGEROUS FOR STUDENTS They are exposed to a complex environment that can be scary and unsafe

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“If people could see the real experience . . . it’s really not an option” 9


WHOSE JOB IS IT? FINDING #3

WE ALL HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY IN GETTING STUDENTS TO SCHOOL SAFELY But right now the burden is on students because no one has taken ownership

10


“It falls on every one of us . . . to me it’s a basic right” 11


PROJECT TIMELINE

Internal Community Student Interviews Conversations Workshop

Bus Prototype

Next Steps

12


2

CODY CAMPUS CONVERSATIONS Following United Way staff interviews UWX went to Cody High School*, the initial pilot area, to have open conversations with principals, teachers and administrators. After hours of interviews we began synthesizing what we heard.

*Academy of Public Leadership, Detroit Institute of Technology, Medicine and Community Health Academy

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INTERVIEWEES School staff noted that transportation is an obvious barrier to student success. They shared stories of how it impacts students beyond their journey to and from school and the stress it causes them throughout the school day.

MR. HOTCHKINS, COMMUNITY LIASON FOR APL

MS. JACKSON, DHS FOR CODY

MS. KING, PRINCIPLE OF DIT

MRS. PARKER PRINCIPAL OF MCH

MR. BAKER, SPECIAL ED. TEACHER AT MCH

MR. SABO, TEACHER AT MCH

MS. HAWKINS, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL OF MCH

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“ Transportation is the #1 issue, it trumps everything programs, what you offer, it always leads back to that…”

WE MET Ms. Parker, the principal at MCH whose phone rings off the hook because she is accountable to parents, teachers, students and DPS. SHE NEEDS A WAY TO address parents concerned with bus cards so that it won't prevent them from engaging in other aspects of their child’s education. BECAUSE bus cards not only represent mobility for students and parents, they can also be sold for quick cash. 15


“I see students stressed throughout the day because they come to school with an unclear idea of how they’re getting home”

WE MET Mr. Sabo, a second year Teach For America fellow who grew up in Metro Detroit. He hadn't planned on becoming a teacher but has developed meaningful relationships with students because he respects them. HE NEEDS A WAY TO alleviate the stress that students face before and after school. BECAUSE he understands the bigger picture, sometimes students need a moment of calm which they can only find in his classroom. 16


“ The students are willing to do they just don't have the means”

WE MET Mr. Hotchkins a former basketball coach who works as a Community Liaison for APL. He is deeply passionate about working with students before it’s too late. HE NEEDS A WAY TO support students need regardless of the sacrifice and lack of recognition BECAUSE by always being there he is holding the students accountable to do the right thing, which could literally save their lives. 17


FINDINGS BUILDING A NETWORK

A MOMENT TO BREATHE

HELP THE HELPER

The administrators we spoke with were on a mission to provide for any need a student might have inside or outside of school. We heard stories of the daily uphill battle this represents. However, the teachers, administrators and principals rely on each other to fulfill their mission to be there for students no matter what.

The principals we spoke with at the Cody Campus hardly had a moment to breathe in the midst of the constant phone calls and questions coming from parents and school administrators. While each principal is unique, they all have the unwavering desire to help each and every one of their students succeed.

Teachers are an integral part of any successful school system and carry an extraordinary amount of responsibility on their shoulders. We heard one teacher boldly state “We have to be a parent, then a counselor, and finally a teacher… and only if you get the first two right can you be a good teacher.”

It’d be game changing if these unsung heroes had an even larger support network.

It would be game changing if principals felt more equipped and empowered to be champions for their students.

It’d be game changing if teachers could focus just on student academic success.

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DISCOVERY Speaking with the Cody Campus staff was immensely valuable in learning more about how the broken transportation system actually inhibits educators from being able to teach. Their daily interactions with students helped us better understand the complexities of the transportation problem. As we dug deeper we realized that if we could solve for the student transit need, Cody staff would be positively impacted as well. This also reinforced our need to speak with students.

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PROJECT TIMELINE

Internal Community Student Interviews Conversations Workshop

Bus Prototype

Next Steps

20


3

STUDENT WORKSHOP IN THEIR OWN HANDS

UWX and various members of the United Way family conducted a workshop at the Cody Campus to gain insights from students. The lack of reliable transportation for Detroit students is a barrier to their education. Issues with reliability, safety and efficiency all have detrimental effects, not only on students’ attendance but also on their educational opportunity. Students from Cody shared their journey and experiences getting to and from school and then created and tested a student-centered bus experience using design thinking methods.

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DESIGN THINKING EMPATHIZE Students created a journey map to describe their experience of walking, boarding, riding and taking the bus home.

EMPATHY

IDEATE

Next they used “How Might We� questions to launch into brainstorming and came up with hundreds of solutions to the problems they face.

PROTOTYPE Finally students drew from their personal experiences and tapped into their creativity to design a new bus experience with everyday materials.

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WALKING TO THE BUS Today the walk is full of frightening experiences students should never face. Dark mornings and blighted houses set the backdrop of the walk to school. Meanwhile, issues of violence, robbery and sexual assault remain present in a student’s psyche.

VS

Students imagine a walk that is comfortable and safe because emergency 911 buttons and cameras provide eyes and ears at bus stops. Wi-fi access and refreshments lessen the burden of walking to the bus and help students feel prepared to take on the day.

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BOARDING THE BUS Today boarding the bus is unpredictable. There is a chance that the bus will be late or not come at all. The bus stop may be pitch black and surrounded by trash. Once on the bus a student may encounter unfriendly drivers and adults that prevent them from interacting with other students.

VS

Students imagine student only buses that will make them feel safe, socially engaged and instill a sense of belonging. The bus will come on time and a friendly greeting from the bus driver will help students feel appreciated and make the experience of getting to school enjoyable.

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RIDING THE BUS Today the bus transports riders of all ages and backgrounds on one bus. Police presence is often more overwhelming than comforting. There is a feeling of alienation and uncertainty, the bus may break down forcing students to walk the rest of the way to school or to wait until the bus is repaired resulting in missed class time.

VS

Students imagine a bus that only transports students and has an adult providing guidance (not police supervision). There is wi-fi access, scented plug-ins and a back up plan for buses that break down. Students feel comfortable because they are riding with their peers and there is less confusion around bus stops and transfers.

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TAKING THE BUS HOME Today the end of the school day often feels imposing instead of relieving. The walk to the bus stop and home can lead to being assaulted or robbed for your bus card. Bullying and fights take place while waiting for and on the bus because it is not happening on “school property.�

VS

Students imagine freedom to engage in after-school activities without the stress of guessing when the bus will come. The walk to the bus stop is shorter and well lit, the bus is for students and it discourages fights and bullying because it is part of the school.

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STUDENT INSIGHTS Granting students the time and space to design their own bus experience uncovered key themes. Keeping student stories and prototypes in mind, these themes represent positive associations they want to have and designable opportunities that would drastically change their lives.

SAFETY

FOOD

CONFIDENCE

PERSONAL SPACE

COMFORT

RESPECT ENTERTAINMENT

PLAYFULNESS

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PROJECT TIMELINE

Internal Community Student Interviews Conversations Workshop

Bus Prototype

Next Steps

28


4

THE LOOP ROUTE EVALUATION AND FEEDBACK UWX and the Detroit Bus Company along with Cody students took a school bus to experience the potential route for the Cody Rouge area modeled off the Success Express in Denver. Students experienced elements of their prototypes from the previous day on the bus and provided feedback on the route and proposed bus stops.

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TIME STUDY A time study was conducted by the Detroit Bus Company to understand how long it would take a single bus to complete the proposed route in the Cody Rouge area. This time study will inform the number of buses that are needed to serve the area efficiently and reliably for students.

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To capture student feedback in an authentic and engaging way, students were invited to ride along the bus route. They provided their unique view points and opinions on the route and suggested bus stops.

Student feedback

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PROTOTYPED ROUTE AND FEEDBACK “church nearby makes it safe” “yes, lots of kids “police patrol”

“no lights and liquor store across the street”

“maybe seems safe”

“bad place for a bus stop”

Cody HS

“not a good place, a lot of murders”

“maybe, abandoned houses” “yes, it’s clean and safe

“neutral, not really sure

“sex offenders no way”

“yes, very safe people monitor over here”

LEGEND “yes, more people more eyes”

“nice residential area with a school across the street”

“okay because it’s in a neighborhood” Student feedback has been used to update stops along the route

DPS SCHOOL STREET STOP PROGRAM CENTER

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PROJECT TIMELINE

Internal Community Student Interviews Conversations Workshop

Bus Prototype

Next Steps

33


5

NEXT STEPS Following three months of immersive qualitative research UWX found the shuttle bus model to be an implementable solution to the barrier that is youth transit in Detroit.

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EVALUATION The Youth Transit Express pilot study was able to engage multiple stakeholders over the course of the project. While unable to launch a fully operative transit system for the Cody Rouge area a much more nuanced understanding of the complex problem and innovative solution can be drawn. Denver Public Schools faced a very different environment as they launched the Success Express - parents were engaged, funding sources had been identified and other stakeholders understood their role. For this to work in Detroit we need bold leadership, greater community engagement and a quantitative study to support these findings. Transportation for students is a barrier that cannot and should not be ignored. Now that the route has been successfully developed and tested new questions have come up that need to be addressed to be successful. United Way X will move to Phase II by engaging in community partnerships to bring more stakeholders on board, conducting a mixed methods research study to find the correlation between transportation, education and safety, and lastly participating in design sprints to accelerate the testing and learning opportunities.

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PROJECT OVERVIEW Youth Transit Project Overview

Our goal is to grow advocacy and awareness for the Youth Transit Express for September 2016 launch.

Fragmented

Connected

PHASE I

PHASE II

Understanding the wicked problem

Working on the innovative solution

> student workshop > community conversations > bus prototype

PHASE III

Preparing for implementation

> community partnerships > design immersions > mixed method research December

Route developed and tested

Unified

> parent route testing > informational website > getting the word out April

August

Funding streams activated

Marketing campaign

UWX

STAKEHOLDERS

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS United Way X is a strategy and innovation lab.

EZEKIEL HARRIS Ezekiel is a social impact designer specializing in social innovation and human-centered design. He has first-hand experience creating positive social and economic change by transforming places, systems, and communities through products, services, and experiences. He has the unique ability for rapid prototyping to confront deeply entrenched social challenges.

GABY DORANTES

EPHRAIM CLARK

Gaby is a designer, activist and innovator. She uses human-centered design to learn directly from the people for whom she is designing.

Ephraim is a Detroit native and Challenge Detroit Fellow. He is focused on using human-centered design to engage and support urban neighborhoods.

Her projects have combatted economic and basic needs challenges through product and experience design. Her focus on research design allow her to identify latent user needs that create meaningful impact for the customers she serves.

He is interested in how political, social and economic forces can be used to impact systemic problems. He keeps users at the center - working side-byside with communities and organizations to develop meaningful solutions.

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Acknowledgements This report was made possible through the help and support of our colleagues, Cody: staff, parents, and most importantly students.

Internal Alex Fike Alexander King Annette Grays Asad Muhammad Audrey Walker Bill Anderson Brandi Keeler Brandon Lee Caleb Boswell Candace Cox Caitlin Kelly Charles Ashley Cora Kendrick Dave Wood

Ghida Dagher Hayley Sakwa Idrissa Clemons Jessica Cottrell Kate Stanely Katie Costello Kenya Abbott Kristen Holt Marianne Peltier Melissa Bowman Melissa Rapp Michael Enos Stacey Parker Susan Murphy

External Andy Didorosi Daniel Brooks Ruby Griggs Mr. Baker Mr. Hoskins Mr. Matthews Mr. Sabo Ms. Hawkins Ms. King Ms. Michelle Parker Cody students Cody parents

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BHAG TO BE A LEADING SOCIAL CHANGE AGENT HELPING TO MAKE GREATER DETROIT A TOP 5 PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK BY 2030.

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Youth Transit Report Phase I  

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