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Q&A: Detroit Auto Dealers Association fund grantee The Yunion says Community Foundation support is vital to youth programming

October 2nd, 2023 Back to Browse Stories

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan supports a wide range of nonprofits that improve the lives of children and youth throughout our region.   

Since the endowed field of interest fund was established in 1998, it has granted more than $7.5 million to 178 organizations in southeast Michigan, from CARE House of Oakland County to the Michigan Hispanic Collective to The Yunion, a Detroit-based nonprofit. 

The Yunion’s mission is to counter negative cultural influences that misdirect the lives of youth. Its martial arts-centered Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy for Black boys was featured in an award-winning Tribeca Film Festival documentary.   

The Yunion’s Executive Director Nicole Wilson recently talked with the Community Foundation about how the Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund’s support helps the organization raise risk awareness and strengthen families through prevention programming, education, parental engagement, mentoring and counseling. 

What impact has grantmaking from the Detroit Auto Dealers Charitable Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation had on The Yunion’s efforts to improve the lives of youth?  

We are so grateful for funders like DADA through the Community Foundation. Without the assistance of the foundation, we would be unable to continue to meet the demand of the more than 800 young men who are on the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy’s waiting list to join the program.  

Can you share a story about a young person whose life The Yunion impacted positively? 

One young man who stands out is our former student Gabe. Gabe struggled with anger issues and a lack of focus due to his father being incarcerated and him not having a relationship with him. Through the work of the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy (CATTA), he was able to meet his father while in prison and begin the process of restoring their relationship. Gabe learned how to deal with his anger and stabilize his emotions. He is now an assistant teacher at a school and a peer instructor at the CATTA. 

Yours is a highly regarded model – where are you at in the process of seeking federal designation and what does that mean for the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy program and the kids?   

We are developing the curriculum to build out a scalable practice and working with Wayne State University to strengthen our evaluation process, including the development of a longitudinal study for CATTA participants who are now in adulthood that will provide us with valuable data to move forward with.  

What else is on the horizon for The Yunion?  

The Yunion celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. As a part of our celebration, we recently had our community open house for our new building, a 15,000-square-foot, former school that we have been in the process of renovating for the past 2.5 years. We are so proud to offer this beautiful space to the youth and families that we serve.  

The Yunion’s Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy was featured in a documentary film at the Tribeca Film Festival. What was that experience like and what did it mean to the young people you work with?  

The experience was surreal for all of us. We were so proud that the documentary won Best Documentary at the festival along with Best Editing and the Audience Choice award. To see our young men, dressed up, looking at themselves on the “big screen” was so rewarding. After Tribeca, the film was purchased by ESPN and is now streaming on their ESPN+ platform.  

One of the things that we are most proud of about the film are the testimonies of mothers, fathers, men and women all over the country who express that they saw themselves in the film, watched it with their children, and how it helped them.

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