A lot of times, when we speak of Detroit, we too often speak of scarcity rather than abundance. But I know better.
My name is Reuben Gordon. For the past 15 years, I’ve had the honor of serving as a co-director with The Better Detroit Youth Movement, a non-profit coalition driven by volunteers working together to improve the quality of life and learning for — and with — our children and young adults.
I believe in the power and value of collaboration and have worked with many youth-serving individuals and organizations in support of a collective mission and vision to grow a Greater Detroit our children deserve. In this capacity, I have been inspired by so many people working with our children. I have witnessed glaring examples of what a better Detroit can be, as well as glaring examples of what more of our children should see.
Better Detroit Brownie was founded when we could not get funding for a mobile app to connect youth with resources. A young man on our youth advisory board said, “You know those brownies JaJa (my daughter) and you bake for our youth events? We’re going to sell them to fund the mapping effort and turn your brownies into our own golden girl scout cookie.”
So we spent the next two Augusts sweating in hot kitchens with cool kids — my kids, kids on the block and in the community, and kids in our youth group — testing, tasting and tweaking about a dozen brownie recipes. We talked about taste and texture, ingredients for success and the basics of baking, We learned things like measuring, math, patience, confidence and perseverance, and about how we didn’t have to be the best (brownie), but the best (brownie) we can be.
After a lot of fun, funny conversations, a lot of learning (and some burning), we finally baked a batch of Better Detroit Brownies we felt worthy of our children and adults would enjoy too.
Once we had our dark cocoa brownie recipe, we decided to come up with a special variety we called Sweet & Spicy, that if people liked, they had to come to us to get.
In the fall of 2018, we bought four kids from our youth group and 250 Better Detroit Brownies to The World’s Largest Food Truck Rally on Belle Isle. We sold out in less than two hours, and customers our Sweet & Spicy brownie was a best-seller. We now had the social proof and confidence we needed to officially launch The Better Detroit Brownie Company.
Today, The Better Detroit Brownie Company is a growing “for youth / by youth” social enterprise, commercially insured, and ServSafe food manager certified, managed by The Better Detroit Youth Movement.
Our dark cocoa and sweet & spicy gourmet brownies (and forthcoming vegan brownies) are baked at Focus Hope. Profits from brownie sales support various community and youth causes.
Better Detroit Brownies will soon be showcased and sold at Rivertown Meijer Market, The Congregation Detroit, Seasons Market, Pump 5 Grille, Dave and Amy’s (in Walled Lake), and other retailers and restaurants. We see this as a wonderful way to give consumers a delicious reason to open their mouths, hearts, and wallets in enriching our communities of children.
As the pandemic subsides, we will begin to train underserved teenagers on personal development and emotional self-control skills, and basic entrepreneurship. Participating teens will then “intern” selling Better Detroit Brownies door-to-door and store-to-store. We know most young people love something positive and productive to take part in, and this is a powerful platform for them to make money and give back to help others as they grow. Our vision is to create a new age of social entrepreneurs.
Your support will help us purchase a van that will be “wrapped” as a promotional vehicle featuring both the youth movement and brownie company logos and allow us to transport brownies to retailers and restaurants carrying our products of purpose. The van will also be used to transport Detroit area teenagers to and from our training program.
Vote for Better Brownies! And thank you for helping us make (and bake) a Greater Detroit our children deserve. Go to our website: betterdetroitbrownies.com. Follow us on Instagram @better_detroit_brownies. And come try our brownies at the Detroit Rivertown Meijer