CitySpotters - Using Civic Engagement To Champion Young Entrepreneurs

CitySpotters - Using Civic Engagement To Champion Young Entrepreneurs

Detroit, United StatesDetroit, United States
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

CitySpotters by I Am Young America - Using Civic Engagement To Collect Data And Champion Young Entrepreneurs

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The inability of most Detroiters to recognize, support, and engage with the city's growing movement of young entrepreneurs. In recent years, a growing number of young Detroiters have begun blending entrepreneurship with civic action. While many Detroiters are aware of and engaging with this movement of young entrepreneurs, most are unable to engage with it. As a result, the persistence, motivation, and success of Detroit’s youngest “do-ers” is often left to chance.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

I Am Young America's proposed approach is “CitySpotters”, a web and mobile platform that builds on the early success of I Am Young Detroit. I Am Young America will use its proven technology platform and convening power to mobilize the general public to recognize, connect with, and support Detroit’s youngest innovators and changemakers. CitySpotters transforms data-mining into a tool for engagement. We’re encouraging citizens to put their cities “on the map” by populating them with bright spots. Using our rewards system, citizens are incentivized to spot young entrepreneurs and play supporting roles, thus earning points to champion them as "spotters," customers and mentors.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We’ve designed and programmed the beta version of the CitySpotters website platform, which we launched this past June at A perfect example of CitySpotters in action: #1) A user logged on using facebook and "spotted" Jay Rayford, a young entrepreneur who has started a loyalty card program for local spending in Detroit. #2) User earns 10 points on for spotting him. #3) Jay is profiled on I Am Young Detroit (, allowing other Detroiters to learn about and from Jay. #4) Jay's business is added to the CitySpotters Gift Gallery Database. #5) Original user and others can now champion Jay's business by spending their CitySpotters rewards point on his business reward, a loyalty card with two punches.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are other movements in the city of Detroit working to engage the community with local doers like the Urban Innovation Exchange and Model D, what makes us different is that we're specifically focusing on Young Detroit entrepreneurs under 30, and actively encouraging community engagement with the young doers we feature through technology and innovation. Our community reach is a bit broader, as we're working both in physical spaces and virtual ones, to connect with people of all walks of life throughout Detroit. These players have been in the game much longer than us, and have a great network of fiscal supporters, staff teams, and popularity that will make for a healthy competition, and possibly collaborative partners in the future.

Founding Story

When I arrived back to my hometown of Detroit after college, among the negative noise, I began dreaming of creating a community that was supportive of young people like them and those who aspired to be like them; a community that was all inclusive, drawing inspiration and resources from both people that looked like me and those that didn't. I wanted to show young people both near and far, that there ARE opportunities to turn your dreams into success stories here, in this supposed wasteland. And so I Am Young Detroit was born. I created the blog in 2009 to share the stories of these unsung people, movements, and opportunities. I thought, here's something simple that I can do to contribute to changing the Detroit narrative. I made it a point to feature those who weren't really receiving shine elsewhere. I Am Young Detroit officially launched to the public in early 2010 and quickly gained steam becoming one of the first niche blogs covering content specific to Detroit and its young Doers.
About You
I Am Young America
About You
First Name

Margarita Barry

Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

I Am Young America

Organization Country

, MI, Detroit, Wayne County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, MI, Detroit, Wayne County

Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)

Access to financing, Access to talent, Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Founded in 2010, I Am Young Detroit is already among the city’s most successful engagement platforms: it has mobilized an impressive social network that constitutes 1,000 daily website visitors, 8,00 Twitter followers, 8,000 e-mail subscribers, and 4,000 Facebook fans who support 100 young do-ers. Many of the connections informally made have already resulted in recognition, connection, and support for young innovators.For example Mashawnta Armstrong, founder of MASH Magazine, hired four freelance creatives, was asked to sit on a panel at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, was sought out and accepted into the Detroit Creative Corridor’s Business Accelerator, and was featured in the American Black Journal, Michigan Daily, and WDIV CHannel 4 all as a result of being profiled on I Am Young Detroit. Tunde Wey of Detroit’s Big F Deal, was asked to participate in a paid opportunity to work on a national anti-menthol smoking ideation session with creatives from across the country.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Over two years, this initiative will help 5,000 Detroiters of all ages support 500 young entrepreneurs in the city through CitySpotters, I Am Young Detroit, and a micro-grant/fellowship program in development.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

It will be challenging to ensure those recognized are increasingly connected with one another and the broader community, to overcome that we'll do the following: (1) use our online social media competencies to connect do-ers with one another; (2) showcase those recognized online and offline across the city so the public - including students in the city - are able to pledge support as fellows, funders, mentors, marketers, consumers, advisors, and more; and (3) bring young entrepreneurs and their supporters together constantly through meet-ups, conferences, and more.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Getting Started

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1


Task 2

Application Development

Task 3

Marketing & Public Outreach

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Hire Community Outreach Director

Task 2

Launch Micro-Grant Program

Task 3

Launch Fellowship Program

Tell us about your partnerships

We have a burgeoning relationship with The Knight Foundation, who hopes to support I Am Young America & CitySpotter's microgrant and fellowship programs in the year 2013. I Am Young Detroit has also built working relationships with the Michigan State Housing Development, Team Detroit, 71 Garfield (a green, mixed-used, renovation project that transformed a vacant building into 30 units of live/work space for artists), WDET, The Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Detroit SOUP, The Heidelberg Project, Detroit Regional News Hub, Model D, Detroit Symphony, Wayne State.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list