Annual U-M Ross School of Business MBA Event Focuses on Detroit’s Food Community


This year’s annual Impact Challenge, a four-day leadership development program that engages the incoming MBA students at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, is focused on improving public health in Detroit.

For this year’s challenge, which runs through Thursday, graduate students from the U-M business school are partnering with 20 Detroit-based food entrepreneurs to create business plans that impact healthy food access and affordability, food waste, and consumer choice. The students are also launching crowdfunding campaigns to raise funding for the entrepreneurs.

“This year’s challenge is particularly unique, as it will allow MBA students the opportunity to not only make a lasting impact on Detroit, but to also create a sustainable, scalable solution that can be applied globally,” says Jeff Domagala, associate director at the Sanger Leadership Center at U-M.

The students will have access to speakers, community stakeholders, and a daylong immersion into local businesses, nonprofits, neighborhoods, and a food fair featuring 14 Detroit and Ann Arbor-based vendors.

The event will end in a pitch competition where teams will present their business proposals to a panel of judges, which includes professionals from FoodLab, the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, PNC Bank, and Deloitte.

The U-M School of Business has been hosting community service projects in Detroit as part of its onboarding of new students for more than 20 years, with this being the sixth year of the Impact Challenge.

Past challenges have raised more than $65,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, created new business ventures to impact Detroit’s social issues, and provided a large-scale back to school fair that helped more than 3,000 Detroit kids and parents.