Julie Richie

Building a Foundation


Julia Richie, a 64-year-old graduate student, chose UM-Dearborn’s MPA program to learn about current theories and methodologies for operating non-profit organizations. Nearly two decades ago, Julia founded The YES Foundation® to provide pre-employment training and job opportunities for girls who were teen parents attending Detroit high schools.

As President and CEO, in 1998 Julia recognized the need for literacy intervention. She developed a series of initiatives that leveraged community volunteers to strengthen literacy skills among students in Detroit metro area schools. Foundation initiatives included one-on-one tutoring, books to build personal and classroom libraries, in addition to life changing enrichment experiences. She has touched the lives of more than 10,000 elementary, middle and high school students, parents, teachers and administrators in more than 45 schools. But she didn’t stop there.

Over the years the Foundation’s program data showed that while basic literacy skills prepared students for the working world, we needed to cast our sights on the need to increase the participation of those who are underrepresented in our country’s leadership pools. Inspired by New York’s PREP for PREP, Julia created the program YES for PREP with funding support from the Skillman Foundation. The program’s objective is to prepare students to enter and be successful in the country’s most competitive college preparatory high schools, positioning them for entry into the country’s most competitive and elite colleges and universities.

At UM-Dearborn, Julia admired and was inspired by the energy of Dale Thompson, assistant professor of political science and director of the campus’s Institute for Local Government. “Subsequent to taking his class I was slightly discouraged by a grade I received from another instructor. I sought Dr. Thompson's ear and found him to be a great listener with wisdom and advice which can only come from practical experiences outside of the academic environment,” she says.


"My time at UM-Dearborn was truly a knowledge building experience. My desire to learn was fueled with a broad scope of academic offerings. I was inspired by the practical experiences instructors brought to the academic discussions. Instructors are dedicated in a college environment that met all of my college needs. In summary, UM-Dearborn accorded me a broad intellectual world and helped to transform my sense of the possible."