Meet Shadora Ford, your District Five Community Ambassador

Meet Shadora Ford, your District Five Community Ambassador

High-energy Shadora is the founder and leader of Destined for Greatness, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering and motivating at-risk girls and young women in Detroit to do things that once seemed impossible. DFG provides training in hygiene, self-esteem, education, and job readiness along with groceries, household supplies, summer youth jobs and back-to-school essentials. In her role, Shadora understands the need for all Detroiters to have equal access to high-speed internet and the skills needed to navigate our digital world.

Read on to learn more about your District Five community ambassador.

C313: Tell us about your district and what makes it special?

Shadora: District 5 is a thriving community of folks who have been underserved and overlooked yet remain resilient enough to create lifelong histories shared from generation to generation. I grew up in 48214, and as a resident I appreciate the many programs and organizations, such as MACC Development, delivering essential services to those in need.

C313: How do you describe your work with Connect 313 to your family and friends?

Shadora: Connect 313 is providing FREE digital literacy classes, affordable internet and low-cost devices to Detroiters. With partners such as Rocket Mortgage, Infinity and Human IT we have community ambassadors in each of Detroit’s seven districts. I’m proud to have helped in the creation of 17 Connect 313 Tech Hubs across Detroit, for residents to enjoy! #POWEREDBYDETROIT

C313: Why do you love being a community ambassador?

Shadora: My God given purpose, passion and pride comes from helping people! In my role as a community ambassador, I have the privilege of helping people sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which means more people can experience low cost internet from the comfort of their own home.

C313: Tell us one surprising fact about yourself?

Shadora: I was born at 5555 Conner Street in Detroit, at what was then Mercy Hospital. Since 2010, I have mentored over 15,000 girls and helped nearly 50,000 families at the same 5555 Conner Street address, where I created the Destined for Greatness Mentoring & Community Resource Center!

C313: Favorite thing about Detroit?

Shadora: Detroit is home sweet home and a beautiful, diverse blend of innovative people who have coined catchy phrases for the world to repeat such as “What Up Doe?” and “Detroit vs. Everybody.”

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Meet Debra Anderson, your District Seven Community Ambassador.

Meet Debra Anderson, your District Seven Community Ambassador. 

Debra serves on the board of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO), which is a federation of some 130 black and non-black organizations working to build a stronger community through a variety of services including HIV and suicide prevention, substance abuse support and COVID-19 resources. Additionally, DABO is a Connect 313 Tech Hub where Detroiters can access computer hardware, internet technology, digital literacy programming and tech-savvy staff. Visit DABO at 12048 Grand River, in Detroit.  

Read on to learn more about Debra, your District Seven community ambassador.  

C313: Tell us about District Seven and what makes it special? 

Debra: District 7 is located in the heart of a robust residential community with businesses, community and recreation centers, parks and churches where our residents can engage, learn and thrive. 

C313: How do you describe your work with Connect 313 to your family and friends? 

Debra: The DABO Community Center in District 7 offers many services to the public including a health clinic, senior exercise and dance programs, youth summer employment, a meeting place for local block clubs, and a live radio broadcast every Saturday, where I announce Connect 313 services and events. 

C313: Why do you love being a community ambassador? 

Debra: I love being a Connect313 Ambassador because it gives me an opportunity to offer valuable services to the community, youth, families and seniors.  

C313: Tell us one surprising fact about yourself? 

Debra: I am the official field-trip guru for my church and the DABO center because I enjoy planning excursions to the many cultural, fun and educational sites in our city. We’ve visited the Charles H. Wright Museum, the Motown Museum, and the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center to name a few. 

C313: Favorite thing about Detroit? 

Debra: I love the Riverwalk, which has won first place twice as the best riverwalk in a US city, our cultural and educational sites, and our great ethnic restaurants. 

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Fadiah

Meet Fadiah Yahya, your District Six Community Ambassador

Meet Fadiah Yahya, your District Six Community Ambassador

Fadiah starts her day at the Bridging Communities organization, located at 6900 McGraw Avenue, across from Dingerman Park in Detroit. As the community ambassador to Detroit’s District Six, she’s dedicated to bringing everything internet to neighborhoods across the area. Read on to learn more about Fadiah.

C313: Tell us about District 6

Fadiah: District 6 in southwest Detroit has a unique range of diverse neighborhoods including Mexicantown, Hubbard Farms, Spring Village and others. It’s a multicultural community that shares valuable cultural heritage and resources.

C313: How do you describe your work to friends and relatives?

Fadiah: I am the Connect 313 District 6 Community Ambassador, which means I am here to serve to the best of my ability. I help connect Detroiters to appropriate devices and digital resources for improved learning, employment and wellbeing and tell them about internet discount programs. Detroit deserves to be known as digitally equipped and its people digitally included. Whenever I can, I share the Connect 313 website address, talk about tech hubs, encourage suggestions and support participation in our monthly community conversations.

Connect 313: Why do you love being a community ambassador?

Fadiah: I love that I am able to make a difference in someone’s life, whether it’s a big change or a small one. It truly makes me happy! There’s nothing more valuable and rewarding than being the person who can honestly answer questions without making someone feel uncomfortable or unworthy of my time. I am providing digital resources and empowerment and ensuring all residents have access to affordable, reliable digital technology.

Connect 313: What is your favorite thing about Detroit?

Fadiah: My favorite thing about Detroit is the people. I have travelled in the United States and overseas and couldn’t find that peaceful feeling that I feel being in Detroit. Regardless of the news, I still find Detroit the best city and full of culture, history, and always vibrant.

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Steven Henry

Steven Henry Takes on New Role as Manager of Connect 313’s Community Ambassador Program

Steven Henry Takes on New Role as Manager of Connect 313’s Community Ambassador Program

 

Throughout his career as a community advocate and grassroots organizer, Steven Henry has worked to build trust and engagement with Detroit residents. Affable and articulate, Henry will now bring his innate communication skills and programming acumen to his new role as manager of Connect 313’s community ambassador program

Deeply rooted in the city, Henry, who holds a master’s degree in social justice from Marygrove College in Detroit, is rolling-up his sleeves and getting to work doing what he’s passionate about and dedicated to: building digital equity across the neighborhoods of Detroit.

“I live and breathe Detroit,” Henry said. “And COVID 19 exposed all the negative consequences to residents who are not fully connected in the 21st century. In my experience at the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance (ONA), I found homes without high-speed internet, and people without the appropriate devices not able to access healthcare, education, and work during lockdowns. These folks are disadvantaged and that has to change.”

Communities often have more agency than they think, Henry says, and there are options and resources to be leveraged. He believes that’s where Connect 313’s community ambassadors can be most effective. 

In his new role, he plans to build visibility for each ambassador within his or her designated district through participation in community events, neighborhood fairs and within existing outreach services. The challenge and the reward, he says, is educating ambassadors new to grassroots organizing.

“My goal as manager is to grow the team’s skills and knowledge and elevate the ambassador function to a higher level as we more fully flesh-out this program,” he explains. “We’ll take what we’ve learned and move to greater things while expanding our reach to deliver more resources.”

Along the way, Henry will continue building on the trust Connect 313 and its partners have earned among Detroiters while working on greater buy-in from the public he serves. 

“That makes the difference,” Henry said. “And that’s what Connect 313 is all about – how the community ambassadors will effectively carry out the organization’s mission of a fully digitally inclusive city.”

He fondly recalls the first computer classes offered at the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, which also serves as a Connect 313 Tech Hub and is where Henry served as an early community ambassador. 

“Initially, there were just one or two people participating. But as we spread the word, more and more students engaged. Today, classes are typically full and there is sometimes a waiting list,” Henry said.

He credits ONA’s success to both programming quality and consistency, along with responsiveness to the community’s needs.   

Henry’s first brush with community outreach was in the healthcare field, where he collaborated with a variety of organizations focused on wellness initiatives. 

“I quickly learned the value of visibility and transparency when engaging fellow city residents,” Henry explained. “It’s essential to build trust and deliver on promises among people who are often underserved and, sometimes, under-delivered to.”

Now, as Henry marshals a team of ambassadors across each of the city’s seven districts, he’ll be striving to link Detroiters to available digital resources while demonstrating to participants the power of advocating for themselves. 

“With oversight of the entire city, I will be working to create this wingspan of inclusive options across all of Detroit’s districts,” he says. “I see the community ambassador role as a key element of Connect 313’s mission to bridge the digital divide.”

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