Small businesses have become the backbone of Detroit’s community and are integral to keeping its economy stimulated. The organization that I am partnered with this summer, TechTown, is dedicated to aiding local small businesses and tech startups successfully establish and maintain themselves. They provide such assistance through services and training sessions that advise these growing businesses. Recently, TechTown has expressed its deepening commitment to equitable access across all of its programming. It is out of this initiative that Patrick and I’s project came to life.
During our time with TechTown, Patrick and I are conducting research and evaluating TechTown’s program design, materials, and delivery. More specifically, we are investigating how accessible TechTown’s services are to immigrant communities, particularly through language. After conducting our research and analyses, our recommendations to TechTown will serve to increase cultural competency across the organization and deepen its relationship to communities that are not exclusively English-speaking. Overcoming language barriers is crucial to values of inclusion and diversity because it enables communities to access more opportunities and resources that they otherwise would have missed out on due to their language and cultural backgrounds. It is also important to note that language is just one component of equity. In order to be fully culturally competent, one must be knowledgeable on the nuances of different cultures and seek to understand the various levels of privilege and circumstances that exist in different communities. While getting to such enlightenment might take some time, addressing language is certainly a great first step, and will ultimately open the door for increasing equitable access in Detroit.