University of Detroit Jesuit (UDJ) High School
Sparky Anderson Award for Youth in Philanthropy
Nominated by FOCUS: Hope
The partnership between the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy (UDJ) and Focus: HOPE was established in the 1970’s and has grown stronger every year. The Cubs from UDJ work with the organization to provide support in the areas of advocacy, economic development, and education by packing food boxes and delivering them to qualified senior citizens each month for the last 31 years.
Working with Focus: HOPE and other nonprofit organizations across the region has given the students the opportunity to live the school’s commitment to the City of Detroit.
In the past year, even through the pandemic, UDJ delivered more than 800 meals to Detroit’s senior citizens. They also spread holiday cheer through their annual Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, fundraising on behalf of Focus: HOPE recipients. The Cubs raise money and then shop, wrap, and deliver gifts and groceries to 40+ families for Christmas.
UDJ has a strong social justice program which includes each freshman class spending the day at Focus: HOPE and learning about race equity, social justice, economic development, and the importance of being part of change. The school’s support provided to Focus: HOPE is aligned with both organizations’ common mission to use intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty, and injustice.
The most impressive aspect of this special and unique partnership is that the young men involved with these philanthropic activities is the sense of community that never leaves them. Over the years, Focus: HOPE has had several UDJ alumni come back to volunteer while bringing their families, students, and colleagues, and they all say the same thing: “I used to volunteer at Focus: HOPE when I was in school.” They volunteer with an excitement that is infectious. They give their time, resources, and hearts from a seed planted years ago!