Jennifer R. Smith, President and Founder of Closing the Gap Detroit has over 15 years of corporate philanthropy, community relations and youth programming experience. Recognizing how poverty can, at times, create insurmountable barriers for low-income students to access a college education, the creation of Closing the Gap Detroit was fueled by Jennifer’s passion to ensure that students had a “road map” to navigate through the expensive and sometimes confusing college process. Having served hundreds of students since 2013, the organization takes a grassroots approach to walking students step-by-step through the college process, from exploring the psychology of college, essay writing, completion of college applications, working through ACT/SAT details, financial aid planning, and in some cases, actually included taking the student to the college itself.
Among her significant previous positions, Jennifer served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion prior to her role as Executive Director of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Detroit, a youth serving, residential, academic scholarship program. Jennifer was the Assistant Vice-President/Community Relations Manager of the Charter One Bank Foundation of Michigan (now known as Citizens Bank) as well as the Director of Community Relations for Pepsi Bottling Group (now known as Pepsi Beverages Company). She also helped welcome the world to Detroit for Super Bowl XL, working as Community Relations Manager for the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee.
Jennifer has proudly served on the Foster Care Review Board for Wayne County for seven years and is an ad-hoc committee member of the Detroit HBCU Network after participating as a Board Member for three years. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Minerva Education and Development