In partnership with Connect313 and College for Creative Studies, Design Core’s City of Design Challenge invites participants to develop community tech hubs to improve access and opportunity in Detroit neighborhoods. 

The digital divide prevents many Detroiters from participating in an increasingly digital world, and the situation has only gotten worse as COVID-19 has forced schools, libraries, and many other city services online. 

This challenge invites teams to develop concepts to deliver public services in a more flexible, innovative, and resident-centered way. Successful concepts will focus on improving the experiences of residents and offer greater access to public services in community spaces.

This program is part of the Detroit City of Design initiative. To learn more about the challenge experience click here! 

2021 THEME:

In partnership with Detroit’s Office of Digital Inclusion, this challenge invited participants to develop community tech hubs that support the needs of residents and foster more engaged and informed communities. 

This challenge invited teams to develop concepts to deliver public services to residents in a more flexible, innovative, and user-centered way, improving the experience in spaces where people access these services in their communities and expanding their reach through accessible digital experiences.

Selected participants developed their concepts over the summer with funding, resources and community input before debuting virtual models during Digital Inclusion Week in October 2021. A smaller group of participants received additional funds to test their concept and document the process, showcasing results the following year during Detroit Month of Design and the Cumulus Conference in Fall 2022. 


For more than two years, Detroiters have worked to adapt to many unexpected circumstances. But this is not new for our community, which has experienced many shocks over time – whether environmental, health, social, or economic. Detroiters have proven their resiliency, innovation and perseverance through it all.

Design Core is launching a new City of Design Challenge to explore ways to increase community connections and unify residents in times of disruption.  City of Design Challenges are designed to put the needs of existing residents at the center of the design and development of innovative strategies for their neighborhoods’ future. This Challenge will explore resident driven ideas for unifying communities and building neighborhood resiliency throughout the city.

The 2022 Detroit City of Challenge is led by Design Core Detroit, in partnership with Community Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) and CultureSource, and made possible with financial support from the Hudson Webber Foundation.



Throughout the summer, we hosted a series of lunchtime conversations, demos, Q&As, and other programming on design, community tech, and (almost) everything in between. We heard from a diverse array of experts, made new connections, and learned something new!

The recording of each session can be found HERE.



October 7th

Design Core, Connect313, and College for Creative Studies hosted a family-friendly cinema-style event to celebrate the people and projects participating in the 2021 City of Design Challenge.



Joshua Budiongan

Joshua Budiongan is an architect, community designer and project manager at the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC), where he works on neighborhood resiliency, community planning and design projects in communities across Detroit. In addition to this local work, Josh is an advocate for anti-racist design justice in the built environment and within the construction and design professions, among other communities and networks. Josh works on the board of directors for the Association for Community Design and is a core organizer with the Design As Protest Collective and Dark Matter University. Outside of community design, architecture and design justice advocacy, Josh is a musician, record collector and enjoys cycling and being in touch with nature.

@designasprotest, @darkmatteruniversity, @dcdc_udm

Joshua Edmonds

Joshua Edmonds works within the City of Detroit’s Technology and Innovation Department developing a citywide digital inclusion strategy. He leads the Connect313 initiative, working with a coalition of partners to connect Detroiters to the digital world and the opportunities it brings. His role was a partnership between the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions initiative and the City of Detroit. Prior to joining the team, Edmonds reported to the Chief of Digital Innovation at The Cleveland Foundation, where he leveraged philanthropic investments and public private partnerships to help bridge Northeast Ohio’s digital divide.

Ani Grigorian

Ani Grigorian is a geriatric social worker turned accessibility consultant focused on improving how we move throughout and interact with our environment as we age and our ability changes throughout our lives. Aside from operating her own consulting firm, Ani leads Detroit Disability Power’s Disability Access Consulting program. She is a resident and home owner in Detroit’s Virginia Park Community.

Qumisha Goss

Qumisha Goss or Q, is a librarian at the Detroit Public Library specializing in Technology and Library Instruction, A Microsoft Civic Technology Fellow, as well as the Digital Literacy Subject Matter expert for Connect 313. She holds undergraduate degrees in History and Classical Studies and a Masters degree in Library and Information science. Q is a self-taught Pythonista and certified raspberry pi educator. Q is passionate about education, community building and demystifying technology.

Shamichael Hallman

Shamichael Hallman is the Senior Library Manager of the historic Cossitt Library in Memphis, TN. As a part of the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, Cossitt Library is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2021. Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, Cossitt Library is being designed to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the community, and will include co-working/workshop areas, recording studios, and performance art spaces. His 2020 TEDx talk explores the ways libraries can work to create opportunities for shared experiences among people from different backgrounds.

@shamike2009 (Twitter), @civiccommonsUS (Twitter)

Alter Jackson

Alter Jackson is a digital creative producer for Hook, a creative production agency with offices in Detroit, Ann Arbor, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He spends his day-to-day working working with global brands to execute multi-channel ad campaigns, marketing websites and digital experiences. He holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations — an interdisciplinary program that allowed him to study engineering, sustainable design, and sociology. As a native Detroiter, he wants to help close the digital divide and design sustainable ways to reinvigorate his community.

Maria Luisa Rossi

Maria Luisa Rossi serves as Chair for the Systems Design MFA program at College for Creative Studies, where she brings her entrepreneurial, globally-focused, and empathetic cultural approaches to the next generation of designers. She focuses on the seamless capacity to deal with the tangible and intangible aspects of people experiences. She has taught Brand Identity and Communication at the leading Fashion and Marketing Institute Polimoda; design critical thinking at the Industrial and Communication Design school ISIA, Polimoda, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Syracuse University.

Ackeem Salmon

Ackeem Salmon is an Art Teacher at the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences and founder of the non-profit C-Project Detroit. He received his BFA from the College for Creative Studies, and in his professional practice, he is an art director, photographer, multimedia artist, educator, and life-long learner. Ackeem is an advocate of the arts and arts entrepreneurship.; Instagram: @ackeemrsalmon

Kaylan Waterman

Kaylan Waterman is a lifelong Detroiter and proud West Sider. She is currently the Operations Manager and Residency Program Manager at Assemble Sound. Kaylan is an active community organizer, specifically focused on her neighborhood in the north New Center and Piety Hill areas. In 2020, Kaylan founded The Sharing Table, a pop-up food-sharing program on Seward Avenue. She also founded the Seward Block Club, which focuses on neighborhood beautification, safety, and the celebration of Seward’s cultural identity. Kaylan is also a musician and cultural curator and loves to spend time in Detroit’s beautiful parks!

@kaylanfw ; @thesharingtabledetroit


rootoftwo is a research- and practice-driven design studio, co-directed by Cézanne Charles and John Marshall based in Detroit and Ann Arbor. rootoftwo’s creative work raises questions about ubiquitous computing through tangible interaction with objects and environments. Their work also explores the consequences of under-imagined futures and facilitates people to imagine and shape collective actions for more just transformations. rootoftwo has been recognized with an AIA Michigan Honor Award 2016 Rules of the Road (with DAUB); SXSW Place by Design Finalist (2016) and Knight Arts Challenge Awards (2015 + 2014). Their work has been featured in Wired, FastCompany, Dezeen, Metropolis Magazine, Fresh Art International, Architectural Review, Architectural Record, and The Guardian.

Website | Instagram




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