Law student co-founded 'Builders of Promise'


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Wayne State University Law Schoo student Jasmin Haynes’s passion lies in working with youth – and with fellow Detroiter Meghan Wilson she co-founded Builders of Promise (B.O.P.) in 2012, a nonprofit on Detroit’s west side with the goal of revitalizing and rejuvenating neighborhoods and helping youngsters through mentoring, tutoring, and community gardening.

The gardens, providing fresh fruits and vegetables and promoting healthy eating habits, have been a springboard to neighborhood participation, with people of all ages achieving a sense of pride and accomplishment as well as a productive use of time.

B.O.P. also is involved in opening youth development centers, to get young people the necessary resources to ensure success and train them as future leaders.

“The youth are our greatest assets and are the key to the revitalization of our urban communities,” Haynes says. “We must focus on the trajectory of their well-being before we focus on anything else.”

A rising 2L at Wayne Law, the Detroit native and graduate of Cass Tech has long been passionate about social causes.

“I’ve always believed my purpose was to band with others to push the moral arc of the universe toward justice,” she says.

To launch along this path, she earned her undergrad degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University, and worked as an urban planner for Michigan's Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, where she helped create the master plan for the Village of Webberville in Ingham County, and as a research consultant for Urban Leadership Specialists in Detroit.

She went on to obtain a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Connecticut, and worked as a program evaluator at Hartford Communities That Care, a nonprofit organization committed to creating and supporting non-violent and drug-free communities.

“However, I felt as though the work I did as a social worker needed to expand and reverberate at greater levels,” she says. “Ultimately, I’d like to work as a civil rights attorney advancing the rights of underprivileged and underrepresented populations.”

To that end, she headed to Wayne Law, where she appreciates the school’s focus on public interest and civil rights work, especially the work of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.

President of the Black Law Students Association, she also serves as a Wayne Law Student Ambassador and is a member of the Women’s Law Caucus.

As a Charity Hicks Human Rights Fellow, an award named for the late Detroit activist, Haynes will work this summer at Edwards & Jennings, a civil rights firm in downtown Detroit founded by Wayne Law alumni Alice Jennings and Carl Edwards.   

Haynes, who enjoys cooking, volunteering at Cass Community Services, and singing in her church choir, describes Motor City as “a diamond in the rough—a city rich in culture and history but also a city abandoned and left vulnerable. However, even in its abandoned state, whatever I want to experience – including music, art, revitalization, and community – I can find in Detroit.”