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The guiDE program provides DukeEngage alumni a pathway to continue their commitment to service and civic engagement by providing leadership, mentorship and service opportunities that support wider DukeEngage efforts on campus and beyond

Nalini Gupta smiling


DukeEngage Partner Organization: Detroit Food Academy

Major: Economics and Computer Science

Contact Nalini:

Nalini is a senior majoring in Economics and Computer Science. She is interested in business with a socially aware set up. She was a member of the DukeEnage Detroit 2017 cohort. During the program she enhanced her understanding of social entrepreneurship including the real life struggles and inspirations to make innovations become successful. It opened up a new world of entrepreneurship which she would love to consider as one of her future career choices.

Resource Guide for DukeEngage USA - Detroit, MI

Following her summer working with Detroit Food Academy, Nalini developed the following list of resources for students who are interested in that program — or similar programs.

In Conversation: Authors of Roosevelt Institute’s “Hidden Rules of Race” and Brookings Institution’s Richard Reeves’ “Dream Hoarders”
Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Venue: JB Duke Hotel

The event would give most participants a good look into some of the issues that plague the United States and specifically Detroit. With 80% of the population as blacks, Detroit cannot be fully understood without understanding the issues of race and economic divide.
This is going to allow the students to explore the various events happening at Duke and the filters can help them look up things they are interested in.
It’s a closed group within Duke Community that will help you connect to the I&E activity happening on and off campus
– Signing up for mailing lists for Duke I&E department will also help students become familiar with many on and off campus activities that will help with the work in Detroit.


The Origins of the Urban Crisis by Thomas Sugrue
Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back by Nathan Bomey
Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story by David Maraniss
All these books were given to us as part of our summer reads by Matt Nash. I cannot say they painted a complete picture, not even remotely, but they definitely helped deepen my understanding of what had happened and made me appreciate the incredibility of the resurrection that the people were leading.

International students have a very limited idea about the history of the city and this is a great way to get acquainted with the facts. It will help the students gain perspective and understand the reasons behind the reputation Detroit carries

There is no better resource than the articles that Duke Engage curates to portray a picture of Detroit. They give a mixed bag of opinion about what is going on in the city and how various people are viewing and contributing to the so called resurgence.
–  I think it would be very helpful to read about Dan Gilbert’s involvement in the development of downtown Detroit. Google does not seem to offer any articles about the discomfort local Detroiters feel however it is a perspective worth taking note of because it plagues regular Detroiters.


Motor City’s Burning, Detroit From Motown to The Stooges (2008) (Documentary)

A National Disgrace
The above would arguably portray a very negative view of Detroit. However I found one big problem in the process of building my own perception about Detroit – I could rarely find balance. The views either shifted from excessively hopeful to completely dejected. That is why, I think it is important to hear both sides of the story and to be aware of some of the grim realities that face Detroit.

Redefining Dreamland
The one line that stuck with me was that Detroit was the most typical American city ever and this aligns perfectly with something I heard in Detroit – “When America gets a cold, Detroit gets pneumonia”. However, the documentary is a more balanced and positive coverage of the city.

Cody High: A Life Remodeled Project”.

This is a documentary that the program directors recommended. This is a very heart wrenching story but gives hope for Detroit.

Online Videos

Even though the above is about an isolated incident, it is a very accurate representation of some of the things that make local Detroiters resent Gilbert’s involvement in their city.

TED Talks

This video is not directly related to Detroit, but it is something I grappled with. Being new to the States I had very little clue about how to deal with the racial issues that have been part of the country’s fabric. I also noticed a lot of my friends being slightly out of their depth with the different demographic that Detroit had. I found this video exceptionally useful in my acceptance and understanding of Detroit.
I haven’t found a better cure for the “elite savior complex” that we as Duke students suffer from.


The Duke Engage experience is probably the most versatile educational experience during our time at Duke. The skills we learn during the program span from leadership to community service. From the corporate sector to the non profit and service sector, the Duke Engage Detroit will make us good candidates for any form of employment related to financial markets, consulting etc. Few organizations that this experience will be especially useful for –

–  AmeriCorps

 Social Enterprise Alliance

–  Harvard Social Enterprise Conference

–  There are plenty of conferences that Duke holds that we can attend or participate in

Online Fora

VerbU – A place to find more conferences and competitions

Social Entrepreneurship Forum

Innovate Durham is a great place for entrepreneurs to reach out to the Durham community and bring their solutions to life.

The Community Empowerment Fund works specifically with Durham community and offers help to people struggling with homelessness, lack of food etc.

There are many start ups that will accept part-time interns. But what I found most interesting was DHIC. They work with people who do not have the resources to own homes or live in unsafe conditions and provide them with the opportunity to buy affordable homes. Reaching out to them can definitely help continue the work we do in Detroit right here in Durham.