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Clothing with a cause benefits Detroit youth

A Michigan clothing company has teamed up with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy to mentor students enrolled at the Detroit school. The company, Merit, also donates 20 percent of its total revenue -- and not just its profits -- to a college scholarship program it started. Business owner David Merritt calls it, "cause by design." The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy is a public charter high school on the city's west side.

The education enrichment program, FATE, works to expose Detroit's high school students to the world of higher education. Students attend a series of 40 workshops throughout their high school career. Merritt says they've developed an innovative curriculum that is interactive and engaging, one that keeps kids continuously thinking about college and how their actions affect their education and community.

Merritt attended the University of Michigan on an academic scholarship. He joined the Michigan Wolverine basketball team as a walk-on, eventually earning an athletic scholarship. In 2009, his final season with the team, Merritt led the Wolverines as co-captain to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998. After basketball, the former point guard joined the Michigan broadcast team as a color commentator. It was then when he approached Jalen Rose, also a former Michigan basketball player, about FATE.

"With students who live in urban areas, you have to talk and build more awareness about college," says Merritt. "You have to offer something more positive than what they're exposed to on a daily basis."

Charity doesn't sell fashion alone and Merritt stresses that in order for everything to work, the product has to be great. The fact that the clothing sales benefit others is the cherry on top, says Merritt.

Merit operates out of an online store and Ann Arbor storefront.  

Source: David Merritt, owner of Merit
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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