DBG 9th Grader Delivers Powerful Speech to Lawmakers in Lansing

DBG 9th grader Uriel (pictured far left, above), who also serves as student council vice president at DBG, is using her powerful speaking voice to advocate for out-of-school-time programming. She recently traveled to Lansing to testify at the March meeting of the Michigan House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid and Education, delivering a heartfelt and inspiring speech. Click below to watch her remarks.

“Research shows that students at DBG have a 25% advantage over their peers nationwide in believing they can succeed. This is no coincidence,” she told the subcommittee. “When students aren’t able to comprehend subject matters in school, they typically begin to shut down, creating a resentment towards education. When the pandemic took place it was the hardest school year of my life and I was ready to give up. It was nearly impossible to comprehend the material I was meant to learn virtually. I came to DBG the following year and was able to fill in the learning gaps that I experienced during COVID.”

Uriel went on to tell lawmakers that as since receiving one-on-one tutoring at DBG, she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average ever since. But, the teen says it’s more than tutoring that made an impact. Uriel says she found a sense of purpose in her education through her time at DBG that did not exist before.

“I see my education as a powerful tool to contribute to my community,” she said. “I feel connected and confident in my ability to create change. Since being at DBG, I’ve come to realize that all of what you do is either uplifting or pulling down the community and I’ve been actively searching for ways to be a positive influence over my peers. To me, finding your purpose and feeling connected to your community is part of the magic of DBG. I have an entire network of mentors who are pouring into my dreams, my visions and helping me strategically think about what legacy I want to leave behind. I’m constantly pushed to dig deeper into my thoughts and create actionable plans toward who I want to become.”

Uriel told lawmakers that in the future she plans to be directly involved in politics in the city of Detroit, to advocate for her community and ensure that residents have a true voice “in how the world around them is shaped.” Her more immediate goal is to make an impact along with fellow members of the DBG student council.

“What I work on every day as vice president is quite the load, so I can only imagine how much work you all do to, advocate for the entire state,” she said. “I’m one of 7 members who have decided to take charge of some of the issues we’re seeing in our generation. The Student Council at DBG is starting an initiative called the Traversal Outspeak where we will be traveling to schools and local organizations to talk about the negative cultural influences we’re faced with. The goal is to not only to educate our peers but to directly involve them in brainstorming with us on the solutions.”

“We came up with this idea because we felt we were constantly fed knowledge at DBG that we wanted to be available to more youth. We all need to see ourselves as active community members and take action towards a brighter tomorrow. I want to sincerely thank you all for the work you’re doing for afterschool programming. I truly feel that with your help, programs like DBG
can extend their reach to even more youth like me.”

At DBG, student voice informs everything we do from programming decisions to students’ daily activities. We are truly proud of Uriel and our students leaders at DBG who are already making a positive impact today and give us great hope for a brighter future. Learn more and join our mission at dbgdetroit.org.