Can 30 creative thinkers make a difference to a city in need? A Detroit economic and entrepreneurial development organization called The Collaborative Group is betting on it.

Devastated by the collapse of the auto industry that fueled the region's growth, Detroit has fallen into dire straits. The city, which has a poverty rate of 37.6 percent, is the poorest major city in America. Residents are moving out in droves: Detroit's population has shrunk by a quarter in the past decade.

Led by the vision of The Collaborative Group board member Doyle Mosher, the group's Challenge Detroit initiative is focused on building a young, educated workforce in the region, starting with just 30 people.

In September, Challenge Detroit brought 30 talented young people--hand-picked from a group of nearly 1,000--to Detroit for an innovative one-year program that challenges them to live, work, play, and give in the nation's most impoverished major city.

The 30 Challenge Detroit Fellows are a mix of recent college graduates, artists, lawyers, urban policy specialists, and other innovators. As Fellows, they've received year-long job placements with local host companies from large businesses like Quicken Loans and Chrysler, to startups like ePrize and HiredMyWay.

"We found companies that were willing to step up and take a chance on innovative thinkers," says Deirdre Greene Groves, executive director of The Collaborative Group. "Some had defined roles in mind, while others said, 'When we meet the person we want, we'll know and let them define the position.'"

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