Detroit business wins $50K to turn food truck into classroom | Michigan Radio

Detroit business wins $50K to turn food truck into classroom

Oct 3, 2016

The Next Idea

The Skillman Foundation has awarded $50,000 each to six different programs in connection with the My Brother’s Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge.

One of the six is Giving Them the Business. The goal is to teach young men of color to be owners and operators of restaurants, not just hired help, according to a release from the foundation.

Jerrell Harris coordinates Giving Them the Business. He joined us today.


In a press release, Skillman says “young black men face unique disparities that prevent too many from reaching their full potential.”

Harris told us a lot of those unique disparities are tied to a general lack of access to information.

“There are too many instances where young black men have tons of really great ideas, but have no idea how to execute on those,” Harris said. “These young men are graduating, if they graduate at all, very unprepared to enter the workforce and to be a part of the new economy.”

Giving Them the Business gives young men of color the chance to learn all about owning and operating a restaurant while they work in the business.

“We often tell people, oh, go write a business plan and come back ... but if you’ve never been exposed to what it really means to own or operate a business, then your business plan is really pointless. It’s really just a made up document that isn’t really based on fact,” Harris said.

“This program gives these young men the opportunity to really get their hands into the business of operating a restaurant. So they learn skills from accounting to financial management to inventory and scheduling and food costs, all the things that go into actually being an owner that they typically would not learn if they were just employees in the business.”

While the program is built around restaurant ownership, Harris believes the skills being taught will translate to the rest of the business world as well.


The Next Idea is Michigan Radio’s project devoted to new innovations and ideas that will change our state.

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