Detroit Vs. Everybody (DVE) founder Tommey Walker was a student within the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) all his life. He attended Chrysler Elementary, Burton International and Cass Technical High School. Now he is giving current DPSCD students the opportunity to follow in his footsteps with the launch of the “Detroit Almighty” contest.
DPSCD elementary, middle and high school students will have the opportunity to design a DVE item that best represents Detroit through their own eyes. Winning items from each grade level will be sold on the DVE website and inside its flagship store located in Eastern Market. The student with the most sales wins $2,500 for themselves and another $2,500 for their school.
“The whole scheme of this project is to let the kids of Detroit Public Schools know how feasible it is to have a career in fashion design,” said Walker, who founded DVE in 2012. “I want them to see the process from A-Z and get a feel for what it’s like to view financial reports…and see how their work is being accepted by the customers.”
Participants will have to pitch their designs to the DVE team, explaining why they chose their design. The winning students will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage with Walker, who will walk them through the entire process of design, manufacturing, shipping and retail of their respective item. Winners will also participate in the store display of their item and receive weekly sales reports.
“We have this platform and are able to open doors for others,” said Walker. “I want the kids to see that it is very real for them to have an idea of theirs materialize and actually make money [from] it. Once they see that, they will know that things are more obtainable for them.”
Walker credits his educational upbringing in DPSCD as well as the fact that his mother has been an advocate and educator for his success to this day. As a student at Cass Tech in 2002, someone offered him the opportunity to break into the world of graphic design, which propelled him to start his international DVE brand a decade later. The next best Detroit brand could be waiting in the wings through the “Detroit Almighty” contest.
“When you have some type of success, it’s kind of your duty to give back and lift up others,” added Walker. “But I didn’t want to do that in a cliché way. I wanted to give them something that they can remember. I wanted to give them the money so that they can spend it the way they want. This is a project that I would have wanted to do as a DPS student.”
All artwork submissions for elementary, middle and high school students are due June 21. The pitch stage begins June 22, with finalists announced June 25. Customers will be able to purchase the shirts July 1 until September 6 when the contest ends. The grand prize winner will be announced September 10.
Detroit Public Schools (DPS) was established in 1842 with the first high school (Central) opening in 1858. DPSCD replaced the original DPS in 2016. It is comprised of 106 schools and more than 50,000 students
This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle.