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Conference in a hall

Last night, YIP held its Draft Night at Cass Tech High School in Detroit for the first-ever University of Michigan Youth Impact Program to be held this summer. Over 350 people attended, and we drafted 130 at-risk boys from the Detroit area into this summer’s program. The energy of the crowd was contagious, which included U.S. Marines, UM student-athlete mentors, and former Detroit Lions Quarterback Eric Hipple. Each of the 130 drafted boys took the stage to receive a University of Michigan cap and signed the University of Michigan YIP letter of intent before their families and peers.

We rocked it last night, broke barriers, and went BIG!

University of Michigan Press Release from

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan football program announced today (Thursday, June 4) an important commitment to a Youth Impact Program that will benefit and assist at-risk boys from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in the city of Detroit. The program is designed to align with the values that the Michigan Football program instills in its players.

We are excited to have our football program working and associated with the Youth Impact Program,” said Jim Harbaugh, U-M’s J. Ira and Nicki Harris Head Football Coach. “This will be a tremendous growth opportunity for the youngsters participating in this program. It will also provide an opportunity for our student-athletes to learn valuable leadership skills as mentors, coaches, and teachers.”

Coach Harbaugh, the coaching staff, and sophomore student-athletes will work alongside members of the U.S. Marine Corps and local educators to teach life skills, football, language arts, and STEM-based curriculum (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

The program identified 100 boys in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades in Detroit and will work alongside members of the Marines and educators to teach life skills, educate and help provide discipline and direction for at-risk youth.

“The impact of the program will develop leadership skills so the students can have the courage and confidence to make the right decisions at the right time under stress and confrontation,” said Riki Ellison, founder of the Youth Impact Program. “The program enables trust and strong relationships over sustained periods of time that these at-risk boys do not have with men five years from their age, some from the same background that they idolize.

“It enables the development of trust and respect between the University of Michigan and its nearby community by providing access to those underprivileged that may never have seen the inside of a great academic institution,” added Ellison. “The program will provide the discipline, the skills, and classroom management for these young boys to excel in academics. Our short-term goal is high school graduation for all of these boys and the long-term goal is new-found leadership to lead other young boys in the right direction when they return home.”

Ellison started the program nine years ago and has initiatives running at Stanford University, Northwestern University, and West Point Academy. He was a 10-year NFL veteran with the San Francisco 49ers and a member of three Super Bowl championship teams.

The University of Michigan Youth Impact Program will be held July 6-18. In addition to the two-week program, there will be touchpoints for the youth during the year.

The football program identified young men in Detroit not only because of its proximity to the institution but because of the significant need that exists there combined with the passion of the football leadership to serve this cause.

“The impact on inner-city at-risk youth in Detroit by Michigan Football, the student-athletes participating and the University of Michigan with Jim Harbaugh will be significant,” commented Ellison. “It is a great opportunity for these young boys to change direction with leadership skills, trust, and love for the University of Michigan that will make a difference in the Detroit community. We are honored and very fortunate to be a part of this. Having my daughter attend Michigan, combined with the respect we had playing against Michigan and against Bo in the Rose Bowl when I played for USC, Michigan has always been a special place personally for me.”

– Riki Ellison

Permanently Impacting Our Nation’s At-Risk, Inner-City Youth