Believing the best way to uplift youth is better education, UniTee Design, Inc. (UDI) is on a mission: to rebuild African-American unity in our communities primarily through the development, support and funding of more effective educational opportunities for today’s young generation.
A youth education advocacy and ethnic empowerment enterprise with offices near Detroit, Atlanta, and in New York City, UDI’s primary product and service offerings are youth enrichment (i.e., educational research and program development), and ethnic apparel design, production, distribution and sales.
UDI uses designs on its products that feature the red, black and green (RBG) colors associated with African-American culture. “UniTee Shirts” and “UniTee Bands” teach our children of a rich cultural history, heritage, and the many, significant achievements of their ancestors, to build and strengthen within them higher levels of self-esteem and self-identity.
Several RBG designs also incorporate the words “pride, power and purpose” (the 3P’s) that serve as positive life principles. The 3P’s provide an opportunity to help youth overcome real-life issues such as broken homes, tough streets, gun and domestic violence, and drugs. They are also used to promote the importance of education to help children become more resilient to the multitude of negative circumstances and influences they often face via society, media and environment.
UDI supplies positive reinforcement for our youth by using the RBG colors and 3P’s, and then delivers “alternative” education programs to help them identify a specific purpose in life. These programs are typically developed based on direct feedback from youth as to what their interests are to better engage their motivation, participation and improvement.
R. Lee Gordon, UDI’s founder says there is a growing movement to better the condition of African-American youth through better education. “By proactively engaging the many groups and individuals who share our mission and value our vision, we can overcome fragmentation, create consolidation and build a national coalition to propel our ability to deliver more effective educational options to the maximum number of youth. Thus, we are willing to work with anyone who will help us support, develop and fund youth education programming that empowers the lives of our children.”
UDI has alliances with positive groups throughout the country including:
The Single Parent Resource Center
Tell Us Detroit
The Hip Hop Congress
The Black Heritage Library
Children and Youth Prevention Services
The African American Music Association
Live In Peace
The National Black Graduate Student Association
The Sataye Group
The Fashion Guru Agency
Off Da Block Entertainment
The Black Star Project
Business Management Consortium (Global BMC)
The Million Father March
The Temple of Hip Hop
Janice Hawkins-Higgins – Project R.A.G.E.
The Youth Leadership Program
The International Men of Excellence
Sandbox TV, Inc.
Youth in Transition
Michigan Department of Human Services
Welcome To Harlem
Detroit Youth March
Motor City Blight Busters
Public Art Workz
Uplifting Hearts, Minds, Souls
UniTee Design is currently establishing a national network of “Purpose Providers” consisting of concerned citizens, college students, communities and groups to strengthen youth education advocacy and volunteerism.
Using a variety of fundraising, cross-branding and cross promotion strategies, as well as live event and online product sales, UDI funds and develops “alternative” youth education programs to create and ensure more academic successes.
Currently teaming with Eastern Michigan University (EMU), UDI is mentoring several youth entrepreneurs to empower their economic successes. It is also establishing a national peer mentor project initiative that will match college students with high school students, and high school students with grade school students, to empower students to strive for and achieve higher education goals that will result in improved academic and professional outcomes.
Some of the current programs developed or supported by UDI include:
A self-defense and safety awareness program developed in cooperation with The Detroit Threat Management Center helps school-aged children feel more assured and able to protect themselves in their communities by gaining the skills and strategic thinking needed to do so, while fostering self-discipline and respect.
The Model Student Fashion Career Development Program introduces the world of fashion to schools via instructional photography, videography, fashion design, modeling and hair and make-up styling. The program is also structured to reinforce overall academic performance.
Public Art Workz is a summer camp that teaches creative arts and merchandising to inner-city youth. UDI and BlightBusters (a Detroit-based not-for-profit organization) recently organized a major fundraiser in June 2008, featuring Motown recording artists The Contours and various musical acts matched with talented youth, to support this important program.
Combining genres of fashion, art, music and education (FAME), UDI creates exciting live events that engage participants and spectators alike. A recent “Youth Art Party” using the FAME formula demonstrated the power and beauty of the arts to Detroit youth to actively engage them in productive and positive activities, and support critical thinking and discipline that creative arts represent. These “edutainment” events are slated for Morehouse College in Atlanta in February 2009, and in Oakland, California, in spring 2009.
UniTee Design products are currently available at Spectacles and Naim’s Unique Designs in Detroit, Phat Gear in Atlanta, EMU, Wayne State University, and national distribution is slated for 2009. Several joint ventures are in the works with The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, HBCU Kidz, The Detroit HBCU Network, and others. Later this year, UDI will introduce new apparel designs and product lines to include sweatshirts, sports jerseys, baseball caps, etc.
To improve the quality of life and learning for Detroit youth, UniTee Design recently founded The Better Detroit Youth Movement (see www.betterdetroityouth.org
), a non-profit coalition of positive-minded individuals and groups who are committed to working together with communities, parents, schools and students to improve the quality of life and learning for all Detroit area children.
Citizen volunteerism, and youth engagement and participation are key components of the BDYM. We believe by fostering higher levels of communication, cooperation and collaboration among our citizens and communities, while seeking out areas where we can better work together, we will achieve greater success with and for our youth.
One of the BDYM’s primary goals will be to improve communication among Detroit’s youth resources by developing a database that will help enhance delivery of services, and serve as the basis for production of a youth resource guide to provide comprehensive services and solutions for Detroit children.
BDYM events include one of ARISE Detroit’s signature events on Neighborhoods Day, The Motor City Youth Fest, a talent showcase of Detroit children and teens; and The Detroit 2009 Million Father March, a city-wide initiative that encourages fathers to take their child or children to the first day of school, but will be used to increase community / parent / student involvement throughout the school year. Past events such as a Stop The Violence Campaign, The Youth Art Party and The 2008 Detroit Youth March have garnered broad support from the Detroit area and beyond.
A television series, “Celebrating Our Children, is being co-developed by ARISE Detroit and The Better Detroit Youth Movement in the Detroit market. This show will be produced, written, filmed and hosted by high school students (on a rotating basis among many high schools to garner broader teen participation), highlight exceptional youth achievements in academics, arts and athletics, etc., feature a teen panel forum, and a roving teen reporter segment asking youth a “question of the week” that will be discussed each upcoming episode. Each show will contain live film segments from various youth, cultural and community venues in the City of Detroit, promote leading youth educators, and also include guest experts who will address relevant youth issues.
Gordon, who recently facilitated a community involvement workshop at The 20th Annual National Black Graduate Student Association Conference in Chicago, concludes, “We need to find better ways to educate our youth. I believe, together, is the only way to give them the best, and build a better people and planet.”