Each week at the Downtown Boxing Gym, our students create a rhythm and beat all their own. Nonprofit partner Class Act Detroit provides hip-hop music education and production and step dancing for our students, helping to expand our enrichment offerings.

Class Act Detroit, which focuses on arts, academics, health and wellness, has been working with DBG since mid-2018. Our organizations met through a mutual connection who helped set up a meeting.

“At the time DBG was just looking for dance,” says Adrionna Carter, an educator who co-founded Class Act Detroit with her friend and fellow teacher, Rashard Dobbins. “When we told them everything we had to offer” — including music, photography and video production — “they said, ‘We want it all.’”

Step dance classes now take place on Mondays and Wednesdays with music on Thursdays. Class Act’s focus on hip-hop examines both its cultural relevancy and how all genres of music come together to make something new, with academic concepts including creative writing, graphic design and knowledge of self embedded in the lessons.

“The great thing I like about the Downtown Boxing Gym is their mission matches our mission,” Carter says.

Carter and Dobbins first met while teaching at a charter school in Atlanta and started a hip-hop club there as a different way to teach kids academics. They also started a step dance team, which she says incorporates African traditions.

Family connections brought the two back to Detroit — Dobbins hails from Ypsilanti, while Carter’s grandfather was from Detroit. Carter graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family sciences and a master’s in teaching, plus an educational specialist degree in educational psychology. In addition to working with Class Act Detroit, she teaches kindergarten at University Yes Academy on Detroit’s west side.

Dobbins graduated from Georgia State University and worked for a decade in the entertainment industry as a performer, talent agent and production assistant for television shows including “The Walking Dead” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay,” both of which filmed in Georgia. He also worked in schools as a teacher and reading interventionist, and still teaches music.

The duo started Class Act Detroit about three years ago. Carter says she’s hopeful the partnership with the Downtown Boxing Gym will be long-lasting.

“I think there’s mutual respect and mutual recognition that we love those kids,” she says. “Whatever those students need, we’re going to get it for them.”

Exciting news to share: Rashard was recently selected as a fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network. He will be part of a dynamic and diverse group of 80 individuals who are dedicated to working within our communities to build brighter futures for children and families. Congratulations from all of us at the Downtown Boxing Gym!