About Detroit Excellence in Youth Arts (DEYA)

Founded in 2019, Detroit Excellence in Youth Arts (DEYA) harnesses the collective action of young Detroit artists across a wide array of art forms, including dance, instrumental music, drama, visual art, and vocal music; arts providers; arts donors and parents to build the capacity of Detroit’s Youth arts ecosystem and deepened investment in the sector.

The organization seeks to remove the systemic insurmountable barriers to participation in the arts that Detroit’s youth face. By serving as a trusted partner for Detroit youth arts, DEYA allows public entities, national foundations, corporations, and private donors to focus or pool their funding in one central resource without each having to invest duplicative resources in developing research, diligence and staff capacity. DEYA ensures that smaller arts organizations battling for funding don’t have to go it alone by increasing the funding “pie” for youth arts in Detroit, not simply cutting it into more pieces.

DEYA’s work results in transformative youth arts opportunities that are more equitable, inclusive, accessible, and sustainable.

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Powering Youth Arts Through Collective Action
Mapping Study Findings

The Opportunity

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Overwhelming research has confirmed the benefits of youth Arts on adolescence development, health, education, and college/career pathways–especially for Black and Brown youth from under-invested communities. Youth Arts programming has been shown to be uniquely impactful in developing 21st Century Innovation Skills and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), keys to economic mobility and lifelong success that go far beyond the Arts.

The city which gave the world Motown has the power to use the Arts to transform the lives of Detroit youth, breaking the cycle of poverty and providing equitable opportunities for tens of thousands.


The Need

Arts and Music are a rich and enduring part of Detroit’s fabric and legacy, but, sadly, thousands of young Detroiters still face insurmountable barriers to participation.

Young woman paintingDetroit’s youth arts sector is severely underfunded, under-supported, and under-valued, leading to inequitable access to high-quality youth arts programming – inequity between Detroit and suburban communities, as well as inequity within the city based on economics and isolation. Individual organizations lack the resources and coordination to break down these barriers.

Among the challenges facing Detroit’s young artists today:

  • Lack of Funding & Inequitable Access: Disinvestment in the city over decades has led to Detroit youth having significantly less access, fewer options, and scarcer resources in their artistic pursuits than their suburban peers– with much of the funding coming into Detroit for youth arts disproportionately benefiting youth from outside of the city and residents from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Need for Systems Investment in Detroit Youth: Many of the barriers are systemic and include complex challenges such as lack of out-of-school-time transportation and inadequate public-private collaboration. Creating solutions for these systemic issues has been too large of an undertaking for individual organizations or individual funders.
  • No Existing Structure to Allow Funders to Efficiently and Effectively Invest: In its current state, Detroit’s under-resourced youth arts sector is highly siloed, competitive, and scarcity-focused with little coordination or collaboration. The lack of a shared infrastructure has limited sector-wide investment and impact on Detroit youth because their arts organizations aren’t able to secure the funding they need.


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The DEYA approach is at the intersection of equitable access, collaboration and field building. It centers on four areas of focus: Impact Network, Infrastructure, Platforms and Advocacy:

IMPACT NETWORK: DEYA serves as a backbone, providing support for Detroit youth arts networks by acting as a coordinator and raising funds for network initiatives;

INFRASTRUCTURE: The organization provides resources and planning support for infrastructure improvements and other funding that supports the entire city of Detroit and arts sectors. This includes addressing out-of-school transportation for all youth arts opportunities and identifying and securing federal and national grants to support the sustainability of the youth arts sector;

PLATFORMS: DEYA provides collaborative platforms to elevate the work of youth and youth arts providers, including through the Launch Award micro-grants for youth throughout the city, mentorship programs and youth arts showcases and awards;

ADVOCACY: By centralizing information, grass-roots marketing and policy advocacy for the arts sector, DEYA is committed to delivering a catalog of youth arts providers for schools and after-school sites, a centralized database and/or website, marketing efforts to support Detroit youth arts in general and lobbying for policy change to support youth arts in Detroit.

Share Your Interest in Detroit Youth Arts

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More Information

For additional information, please contact 313deya [at] connectdetroit [dot]org

Media Queries

For media and interview opportunities, please contact Jennifer Foster at Jennifer[at]CatalystMediaFactory[dot]com or 313-462-0808.

Website Accessibility

To request website accommodations and/or for site accessibility questions, please contact Senior Program Director Nikita Buckhoy, LMSW at 313.967.5878 or nikita [at] connectdetroit [dot] org.