Cengage PRIDE Group Provides Detroit’s Ruth Ellis Center with Education Resources, Food, and Fun for Local LGBTQ+ Community

5 min read

| By Matthew Saldeen |

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes five needs that people strive to attain:

  1. Physiological
  2. Safety
  3. Belongingness
  4. Esteem
  5. Self-actualization

The Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit is an amazing resource for the Detroit LGBTQ+ community struggling to achieve these needs. Their mission is to “create opportunities with LGBTQ+ young people to build their vision for a positive future.” Cengage PRIDE is an employee resource group organized to promote a culture that is inclusive and empowers and supports LGBTQ+ employees and allies of all backgrounds. As part of their efforts to make Cengage more visible in the LGBTQ+ community at large and promote activities that raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community, Cengage PRIDE reached out to the Center to see where they could help. On July 31, 2019, a team of volunteers headed to the Center for a day of food, fun, and donations for the community. Overall, the Ruth Ellis Center’s mission influences the young people’s ability to achieve each of the needs in Maslow’s hierarchy, and on the July 31 event, Cengage PRIDE endeavored to assist.


The first, most essential of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is physiological—things like food, water, and warmth. The Ruth Ellis Center provides food and a safe space for youth; to help with this, the Cengage PRIDE group threw a barbecue! With barbecue catered by Detroit’s famous SLOWS BAR BQ and fixings brought by the PRIDE group, enough food was served to feed the Center participants and staff for dinner, with leftovers to spare.


The Ruth Ellis Center provides a myriad of services to help at-risk LGBTQ+ youth stay safe, including case management, integrated health care, access to housing and a safe space, as well as hosting fun events to encourage them to come and stay. Cengage PRIDE helped to provide a day of fun—playing music and setting up board games, a giant Jenga, water balloons, and an LGBTQ+ -themed trivia competition with prizes.


Perhaps one of the most evident needs the Ruth Ellis Center assists with is a sense of belonging. It’s apparent in every activity and every interaction at the Center. The affirmation-focused staff at the Center, including the staff in the in-building health clinic, provide an environment where everyone is accepted and celebrated for who they are. To showcase the unique talents of the young people, the Center and Cengage PRIDE threw a Mini Ball voguing dance competition in the style of the drag balls featured in the documentary Paris is Burning and the FX show Pose. Cengage donated four $100 Visa gift cards as prizes for the competition winners and the commentator.

Esteem and Self-actualization

Maslow’s hierarchy describes the last two needs—esteem and self-actualization—as the need for a feeling of accomplishment and the ability to reach one’s full potential. The Ruth Ellis Center’s core purpose is directly aligned to these. They focus on “building positive futures” through a framework they call “Positive Youth Development,” emphasizing “focusing on youths’ strengths instead of their risk factors.” To help the Center with this, Cengage PRIDE focused on providing resources for the young people’s continuing education. Partnering with Peterson’s, Cengage PRIDE donated a 12-month subscription to the Testing & Education Reference Center. This product provides access to test preparations and practice tests (both for college and vocations); customized study dashboards as well as career preparation and instruction on résumés, cover letters, interviewing, and networking. Peterson’s also donated 100 copies of their ACT Prep Guide 2019, and Gale provided supplemental Gale eBooks, including Career Information Center; The College Blue Book; Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Loans; and Business Plans Handbook. The Cengage PRIDE group hopes these donations will make a meaningful impact on the Center participants’ needs to achieve a sense of accomplishment and reach their full potential.

In partnering with the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit, the Cengage PRIDE group endeavored to make a difference in the local community. By volunteering time, bringing food and prizes, and partnering with Peterson’s to donate educational resources to the Center, Cengage PRIDE hopes to have assisted the local LGBTQ+ community in pursuing their physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization needs.

Meet the Author

Matt is an agile coach with Cengage’s Global Technology group, where he coaches software teams to deliver changes to platforms like MindTap quickly and with high quality by improving teamwork, planning, and technical mastery. In his free time, he works out, plays video games, and spends time with his fiancée, Jessica, and their dog, Otis, and cats, Atilla the Hun and Loki.


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