Applications for summer 2021 are now closed.


Focus: HOPE
see info below

Course Details

July 25-August 1, 2021


Arrival City
Detroit, Michigan


Partner School: $2180*
Non-Partner School: $2380*


We partner with Focus: HOPE and other local non-profits on projects that address urban food insecurity and homelessness.

The SStS Detroit course occurs in the Motor City, which was once the capital of industrial America with a population of nearly two million. The booming auto industry led Detroit to become the fourth largest city in the U.S. However, in recent decades, changes in the global economy have led to the closure of many large factories. As a result, unemployment has risen dramatically, and 60% of residents have left the city. Currently, one in three households lives in poverty. In the midst of these difficult conditions, several local non-profits are working to revitalize the city’s most effected neighborhoods. The SStS group will partner with three of these grassroots organizations: Focus: HOPE, Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), and Forgotten Harvest. Focus: HOPE is an organization dedicated to intelligent and practical solutions to the problems of hunger, economic disparity, and inadequate education. NSO has multiple programs targeting chronic homelessness. Finally, Forgotten Harvest grows and distributes nutritious food to those in need.

While in Detroit, the SStS group will begin by working for two days with Focus: HOPE on their food program that serves over 38,000 senior citizens, as well as on one of various urban revitalization projects in the heart of the city. Then, SStS students will work with NSO. A morning will be spent visiting a crisis support facility for the homeless. The afternoon will be dedicated to interacting with the residents of the Bell Building, Detroit’s largest apartment complex for formerly homeless individuals. Finally, two days will be spent supporting Forgotten Harvest’s urban farm where nutritious food is grown for distribution through mobile food banks. This course in ethical leadership includes an exploration of cultural sites and restored neighborhoods that allow students to appreciate the rich history of the city and its significant potential for future revival.

LEARN MORE About Our Partners


Forgotten Harvest


Course Elements

The course elements are based on a rating from 1 to 5, 1 being the least rigorous, 5 being the most rigorous.

The group will volunteer with three different non-profit organizations, Focus: HOPE, the Neighborhood Service Organization, and Forgotten Harvest, to learn about how each is addressing food insecurity.
Prior to their travels, students complete a series of online activities (30 minutes each). While traveling, they also read engaging articles, participate in cultural experiences, and create presentations in small groups.
While in Detroit, the group will spend time exploring various cultural sites on foot. However, these activities only require short walks.
The group stays at Hostel Detroit, a unique local business with shared kitchens and living space as well as bunkrooms for students.
Throughout their time in Detroit, the group will explore various neighborhoods in the city. The project work and various cultural experiences only require short drives.
The group will spend their entire time exploring different neighborhoods in the Detroit metropolitan area.


Day 1

Arrival Day, begin group orientation

Day 2

Begin project work with Focus: HOPE, continue group orientation

Day 3

Project work with Focus: HOPE’s Food Program, visit Motown Museum

Day 4

Project work with NSO at the Tumaini Center and the Bell Building, cultural experience

Day 5

Begin project work with Forgotten Harvest, visit Detroit Institute of Art

Day 6

Finish project work at Forgotten Harvest’s farm, cultural experience

Day 7

Visit Detroit Eastern Market, Henry Ford Museum and debrief

Day 8

Departure day

Detroit : In Three Phases



Prior to departure, students are guided by their course instructors through a series of interactive, online lessons. Organized by SStS’s Five Lenses Curriculum, these activities (30 minutes per week) allow students to directly engage with other members of the group.



The majority of the days at each site are spent engaged in meaningful service work with our NGO (non-governmental organization) partner. Days not dedicated to project work are spent immersed in intriguing cultural activities.



During the next school year, students educate others by advocating for our NGO partner through public presentations to the community at large and/or younger, school-based audiences.

Travel Journal

During the travel phase of each SStS course, students spend time reflecting about the learning that occurs through their immersion and service experiences. These posts capture the impact of our programs on individual students. Explore the posts below to learn about the SStS Detroit program from the important viewpoint of our students.

Important Details

Cost Information

Students who attend a Shoulder-to-Shoulder partner school receive a tuition discount. To see a list of partner schools, click HERE.

Tuition (students from partner schools): $2180 *
Tuition (students from non-partner schools): $2380 *

*Students are responsible for booking their own flight to meet the group in Detroit. Once enrolled our admissions team will assist in choosing the correct arrival and departure times.

SStS is in search of curious, compassionate, globally-minded students. Thus, we will do all that we can financially to support students whose circumstances preclude paying the full cost. If you would like to be considered for financial assistance, please indicate so on the application. Financial assistance resources are limited. Scholarships tend to be less than 50% of tuition.

Please note, tuition does not include airfare.

Tuition costs are all inclusive with the exception of personal expenditures (e.g. souvenirs).
Talbot Travel Agency provides travel services for SStS, working personally with us to find the least expensive fares.

Travel Expectations

Please note that we expect all participants to arrive in Detroit within a defined window of time to be picked up by their course instructors. Additionally, traveling as a group inevitably includes “the unexpected.” SStS will adjust the itinerary accordingly, making the best of uncontrollable situations. Due to the unknown variables in travel, participants are asked not to make travel plans or to enroll in programs that start immediately after their return. SStS is not responsible for expenses incurred due to missed flights if the group is delayed in their return.



Footer Questions Box