Veronika Scott, Founder of The Empowerment Plan
High School: Clarkston High School
College: The College for Creative Studies
Hood: Midtown Detroit
How she’s making her mark on the city of Detroit:
I started a humanitarian project called The Empowerment Plan, it’s based on a simple coat. The coat is self-heated, waterproof, and transforms into a sleeping bag at night. It’s made by a group of homeless women who will be paid to create these coats for those living on the streets. The focus is on a system to create jobs for those that desire them and coats for those that need them at no cost; to empower, employ, educate, and instill pride within Detroit communities.
[caption id="attachment_2800" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Photos by Khaaliq Thomas for I Am Young Detroit"][/caption]
On how she accomplished her goals
It all started as a school project. When the semester started I began to spend time at Neighborhood Service Association, a shelter in the Cass Corridor. I spent three days a week, every week, for five months working in a homeless shelter downtown. The people there became an integral part of the entire design, they were there every step of the way and tested all four prototypes. When the semester ended the project did not; it couldn’t because I didn’t feel it was over. I continued the project not just because I was passionate about it but because actual people needed, wanted, and desired it. I realized I had to take it to the next level and make it a system.
On why she chooses to stay in Detroit:
Where else in the world right now can a 22-year-old college student start a business? Hire employees? Buy buildings? Most of all, actually have a lasting affect upon the community and its people? I love the city. It’s tough, it’s gritty, but as the saying goes: nothing worth having is easy.
On her favorite things about Detroit:
Music. Food. Art. Low cost to live, to work, and to create.
On what she wishes you knew about Detroit:
That it’s changing. I spent time in one of the roughest areas in the city on the streets just interacting with multitudes of different people. They have made the most lasting impact upon my life in a way that has changed me for the better. There seems to be the same lasting stigma surrounding the city that there was 20 years ago. There are a lot of people outside of the city limits that are afraid to interact and be a part of what is happening here. There is much more to the city than many realize and I wish that people knew that while there are still things that need work, there are amazing stories and people they are missing out on because of fear.
On future plans:
Over the next few years we will be focused on establishing The Empowerment Plan as a non-profit. It will consist of producing coats for homeless individuals as well as aid relief efforts across the globe. After the 501C3 has been established we will launch The Empowerment Group, LLC. The LLC would help fund the 501C3. Which will cover our future one-to-one business model. We’ll be designing and producing coats for the public to purchase and use. When someone buys a coat online for themselves they will also be purchasing one for a person on the streets who needs it. The coats will have the same aesthetic, have advanced material technology, and come in multiple options for extreme or fashion based use.
Veronika’s words of wisdom:
That when people tell you no or that you will fail and tell you why, take notes! If they’re nice enough to be specific and tell you those exact reasons why you won’t succeed, then it gives you something to tackle and work on for later. I continue to experience this and it helps the project grow and evolve.