MSU, U-M alumni compete to raise funds for Detroit rape kits

The Michigan State and University of Michigan rivalry will be put to good use this year for the second annual fundraising competition between alumni to raise money to process untested rape kits.

The competition will be a six-day event in which teams will race to raise more money through member's social media platforms. The MSU effort will be headed by ESPN Sports Commentator Jemele Hill, while the U of M team will be fronted by Fab Fiver Jimmy King.

Other notable team members on the Spartan’s team include Lisa Whitmore Davis, community activist; Alicia Nails, director of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity at Wayne State University; and Paris Ross, the national president of Michigan State’s Black Alumni organization.

On the Wolverine side there is Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy; Shauna Ryder Diggs, chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents; and Lisa Howze, chief government affairs officer for the city of Detroit.

Last year, the competition – won by the Wolverines – raised $30,000.


“We know how big this rivalry is in Michigan, and last year was so successful, we thought it was a good idea to bring it back. Of course, like any other competition, the losing team certainly wants a shot at revenge,” Kim Trent, president of the African American 490 Challenge, says in a news release.

In 2009, 11,341 untested rape kits were found stockpiled in a Detroit Police Department storage facility. Due to the financial situation in Detroit, Wayne County’s Prosecuting Office could not supply the millions it would cost to test the kits.

The head of Wayne County’s Prosecutor’s Office, Kym L. Worthy, began to raise the funds to process the kits through private donations and grants. The AA490 Challenge campaign was started to help in the fundraising efforts.

The name “490 Challenge” is derived from the amount needed to process a single test. At a cost of $490 each, the remaining 1,341 tests total $657,090.

According to the AA490 Challenge’s website, the organization is comprised of Black women and organizations including the Michigan Women's Foundation, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and the Detroit Crime Commission.

The website says that the goal is to “raise private-sector funding to test these rape kits, investigate the crimes and prosecute the resulting cases, thus securing justice and closure for victims and ensuring a safer community for everyone.”

To date, 10,000 of the original 11,341 unprocessed rape kits have been tested.

To contribute, visit the donation page but be sure to indicate for which team your donation should count. 

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