Mich. Lt. Gov. Gilchrist tours afterschool program to push learning 'in classroom and beyond'

Mackenzie Thompson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist toured an afterschool program in Detroit on Thursday in a move to tout Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's proposed education budget and plans to boost student learning.

Last month, Whitmer introduced the MI Kids Back on Track, a plan her office said would "invest $280 million of Michigan’s $3 billion in additional revenue to tackle unfinished learning after a tough few years with tutoring or other forms of personalized instruction before, after, or during school."

The effort would build on federal resources from the American Rescue Plan with state resources to bolster tutoring programs, help schools process background checks for potential tutors and pay them, Whitmer's office said.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist with students l-r, Zion Dolly,15,of Detroit, Harmonie Stewart, 15, of Detroit and DeShawn Beal, 17, of Detroit, discusses the tutoring and afterschool initiative that will benefit students during a press conference at Downtown Boxing Gym in Detroit.

Such initiatives, Gilchrist said, would help prepare youths for success.

“People say kids are the future. Kids are our right now," Gilchrist said while touring Downtown Boxing Gym.

“As a parent with kids in public school, I know how critical it is to partner with parents, get kids the resources they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond, and attract and retain the best educators,” he said.

Launched in 2007, DBG's free academic and athletic program caters to students ages 8-18 and continues supporting its graduates through age 25, according to its website.

Khali Sweeney, its founder and CEO, said the program has transformed lives.

“Since 2007, 100% of our DBG students have graduated from high school. This is not something that’s just ‘nice to have,' " Sweeney said. "Out-of-school-time programs are absolutely essential to ensure students have a safe haven and the academic support and resources they need to succeed."

More than 200 students participate, officials said.

Some praised the offerings there during Gilchrist's visit Thursday.

Harmonie Steward, a student has been a member of Downtown Boxing Gym for three years and hopes to become a  film director or photographer. She's excited for the upcoming photography program coming to Downtown Boxing Gym. 

Zion Dolly, a freshman at University Prep Science & Math High School, said the site's woodworking workshops helped him learn how to build tables and chairs. He also noted its public speaking workshops.

"Being here gave me a more mature and discipline mindset," he said.

Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed