Strategic Community Partners, founded by Chanel Hampton, is a diversity, equity and inclusion firm that specializes in education, leadership and talent development. (Photo: Kardiak Films)

A consulting firm that focuses on hands-on planning to assist in providing a better future for community youth is celebrating five years of local impact in three cities.

The Black-owned firm, called Strategic Community Partners (SCP), was founded by Chanel Hampton in 2015 with a goal of deeply engaging with the community and knowing its needs. 

“We’re constantly having conversations where the way that we operate, we bring the community to the table,” said Hampton. “If we’re creating an initiative for teachers, if we’re creating an initiative for community members, they need to be at the table. We need to be listening to them and really collectively creating what that vision looks like.”

SCP is based in Detroit, but there are also offices in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. In Detroit, they purchased a community center for not just their team to utilize, but anyone in need of free, high-quality space for nonprofits and community members. 

Hampton started her career as a middle school teacher, later becoming a part of the administration. But when she looked around, she saw that there weren’t many Black teachers and she knew that was a need. 

Before she launched SCP, she was coaching executive directors across the country on teacher recruitment. Hampton also noticed how the consultants that were being hired to assist institutions didn’t know much about the city that they were serving.

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“I moved home to actually give back to and be in the community that helped make me who I was,” Hampton said. “I was really tired seeing folks who were transactionally coming in, and in my opinion, not really serving the organizations that they were working with.”

Hampton goes on to add: “When you pair strategy with community and cultural context, that’s when beautiful, transformational, sustainable change can come about.”

A partnership with United Way for Southeastern Michigan is only one example of SCP’s impactful work. For the last few years, the two have partnered to host career fairs for high school students. During last year’s fair, through a partnership with Growing Detroit’s Young Talent, over 300 students walked away with job offers. 

“They’re just really great thought leaders with the process,” said Tonya Adair, chief impact officer of United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “They helped us to plan it. They helped connect us to the key partners that were included in the event. They’re setting up the booths, the speakers, all of that is what they helped us to do.” 

Before the coronavirus pandemic, there were plans for another career fair at Ford Field. But the shift to a virtual world sparked an idea for a literacy fair aimed at parents and teachers to learn strategies for helping kids learn online. That event is scheduled for fall.

“I’m so proud of Chanel Hampton and her staff and what they’re doing as Strategic partners of United Way,” Adair said. “I can sit and have a conversation with Chanel about something that I’m thinking. Before you know it, she begins to rattle off some things and ideas and comes back with a plan.”

Nonprofit United Way of Southeastern Michigan is also in the process of providing coronavirus relief in the community, assisting in forming stable households and helping to uplift children. They are also partners of the Connect 313 Fund, which is an initiative to make technology more accessible throughout the city. 

Now that SCP has reached its five-year mark, they are looking to the future and creating their own initiatives to assist the community. One of them was to work with the Marygrove Conservancy to help Black-led nonprofits plan and understand that being Black means that they need to work 20 times as hard, Hampton said. 

“We partnered up with Marygrove Conservancy and launched the community impact incubator,” said Hampton. “We’re engaging five Black-led nonprofits, and also have an executive and residents. For one year, we’re engaging them, providing best in class of capacity-building.”

This means that SCP will be assisting the nonprofits in developing a strategic plan, looking at funding and resources, seeking their organizational culture, and choosing their staff and talent.

“When I think about COVID and also just being a Black leader, the reality is, it’s really tough,” Hampton said. “What became very clear when COVID hit, we had to launch this incubator now for these organizations to help serve Fitzgerald neighborhood in Detroit. If we didn’t, the reality is the organizations – some of them are unfortunately not making it through COVID.”

Hampton’s goal is to continue being hands on and partner with the community. They plan to launch a fellowship in an effort to prepare the next round of leaders who are currently going through school. 

Chanel Stitt is a Freep Now Intern at the Detroit Free Press. Become a subscriber.

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