Detroit Labs Helps DBG Students Go Back to School Tech-Ready and With a New Academic Wing

With a gift of $50,000, the Detroit-based software company has named the Downtown Boxing Gym’s newly renovated high school wing and is donating gently used laptops to DBG students.

Detroit Labs, a Detroit-based custom software design and development company, is stepping up to help bridge the digital divide and ensure Detroit students have the tools and workspace they need to succeed as they head back to school.

The company, which also builds technology teams for clients including General Motors, DTE Energy and Jimmy John’s, is donating $50,000 to name the new Detroit Labs High School Wing inside the Downtown Boxing Gym (DBG). The free after-school academic and athletic program on the city’s east side has been working for several years to renovate its facility and make energy-efficient upgrades, including a 4,800 square foot classroom wing, lecture hall, and library.

In addition, Detroit Labs is donating gently used MacBook Pros to DBG students, many of whom had to log into online classes on cell phones during the height of the pandemic. DBG expanded its hours to full days last year and tripled its staff so students could use computers and internet access on site at the boxing gym for virtual learning.

“COVID-19 was challenging for our students and families – especially those who didn’t have the computers or internet access they needed,” said Khali Sweeney, DBG’s founder and CEO. “To have a partner like Detroit Labs step up and provide laptops for our students and generous support to complete our new academic wing is meaningful and will have a great impact.”

The Detroit Labs High School Wing is a part of a long-term partnership with the Downtown Boxing Gym to spread awareness of technical jobs available in Detroit and provide the resources students need to pursue those opportunities. 

“We’re excited to partner with DBG in an effort to spark curiosity, inspire, and shed light on the many possibilities in technology,” said Paul Glomski, Detroit Labs Co-Founder & CEO. “Beyond the athletic program, DBG’s emphasis on students’ personal and professional growth fits perfectly with our team’s goal to bring more career opportunities to our community.”

DBG high school students were involved in the planning and design of the new wing. Through discussions and a survey, students came up with clever names for the various high school rooms including “The Pod” (a quiet study room), “The Collab” (a meeting space for presentations and guest speakers), “The Clubhouse” (a central meeting place for discussion and community building), and “The Union” (flex space for homework and tutoring sessions). The student ideas were shared with the architect and played a key role in choosing the furniture and function of the rooms.

“We always put our students first and give them a voice in important decisions – especially when it comes to a space they’ll be using every day,” said DBG executive director Jessica Hauser. “The high school wing will allow us to serve more students in four unique spaces, each with their own purpose. The design was created with flexibility in mind so we can rearrange the rooms and furniture as we continue to grow and our needs change.”

The new academic wing is part of a larger, $2.5M energy efficiency project that’s been underway at DBG for the last five years. The project also includes a new roof, 231 solar panels, 38 windows, 10+ inches of insulation, an HVAC system, and more. The work is being done in an effort to lower energy costs that once topped out at about $15,000 a month. In addition to Detroit Labs, the following generous donors have made the project possible:

  • Lear Corporation
  • Learning by Giving Foundation
  • Lululemon
  • Stephen Luigi Piazza
  • Ray of Light Foundation
  • Walters Family Foundation

Funds are still being raised and efforts are underway to install a new commercial kitchen, locker rooms, a STEAM lab, and administrative offices. To learn more or support the Downtown Boxing Gym’s efforts, visit dbgdetroit.org.

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