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October 19, 2017
October 19, 2017
Every 60 seconds in America, a student drops out of high school. Merit, a Detroit-based social enterprise started in 2012, is conquering this cause by selling thoughtfully designed products that benefit student scholarships.
As Executive Director of nonprofit arm, Give Merit, Kuhu Saha helps to combine a cause-based fashion brand with shaping the future of Detroit’s high school students.
“Our primary goal is to help young people in City of Detroit do three things: aspire, believe, and contribute,” Kuhu says. “We believe that we've failed as a community in providing the space for young people to dream and aspire.”
FATE is a four-year, cohort-based program that follows students from 9th through 12th grade. Its aim is to implement the resources necessary and provide opportunities for Detroit’s youth to embrace education and actively engage with and contribute to their community, with an end goal of motivating each student to complete high school and attend college.
Students are awarded $5,000 scholarships through Merit’s FATE program — FATE is a program of Merit's non-profit, Give Merit, which takes on 25 high school students every year for a cohort-based mentorship program that offers resources to help them graduate on-time and get to college.
Compared to non-program students, studies have shown that FATE students graduate high school with higher GPA’s, less absences, and 100 percent college acceptance rate to at least one of their chosen universities. With Kuhu Saha’s leadership, students experience unparalleled personal developments in social and cultural awareness, career aspirations, and academic enrichment.
“To me, rolling up your sleeves means just doing it — going after it. In Detroit, especially, there is space for that. There is space for new ideas, but more importantly, there is space to make things happen,” she says. “The future of the city is dependent on our youth.”
Beyond scholarships, the most crucial component to Merit’s FATE program has been the long-term impact of peer-to-peer relationship development, mentor-to-mentee relationship development, and cohort-based relationship development.
“Everyone talks about getting kids to college, but the really important thing is then getting them through college,” she says. “The students will tell you, and we will echo: FATE is family. We have an honest, open, and committed relationship with the students in our program.”
By the fall of 2019, FATE will be working with approximately 125 students. In addition to the FATE program’s growth, Merit is transitioning to make product in Detroit.
“Merit will be developing a workforce training and youth employment program, that will teach young people 25 years old and under to sew and design. Eventually, they can be employed by Merit to manufacture product in Detroit.”
Learn how to get involved, here.
Read more Roll Up Our Sleeves profiles, here.