The Power of Persistence – and Faith

Guest Post by David Tarver, founder of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative. The post originally appeared on

This morning, in the aftermath of a national election that was both disappointing and encouraging, I am reminded of the power of persistence and faith.

Twenty-two years ago, in 1996, I had just sold the company that I and my two co-founders had spent the past twelve years building. Ours was a journey that required tremendous persistence, faith, focus, and talent, but even with all that, our ultimate success would not have been possible without the perseverance of our forbears. In that moment of triumph, I wanted to do something that would explicitly recognize the contributions of my parents who, in the face of hardships and racial bias, still persisted and made opportunities available to me and my siblings. I decided to fund a scholarship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor that would recognize engineering students who embodied my parents’ values of determination in the face of adversity, faith, hard work, and education. Two of my heroes and mentors at the University, Assistant Dean Anne Monterio and Professor Leo McAfee, encouraged me to endow a “full ride” scholarship that would carry with it the honor and prestige it deserved. Thus was born, on October 17, 1996, the Fred and Louise Tarver Scholarship in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan.

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Me (with hair!) introducing the Fred and Louise Tarver Scholarship in 1996




I still tear up when I remember the luncheon at which we unveiled the scholarship. My mother was there, as was my dear Uncle Bill (Hayden) and the pastor from our church in Flint, the Reverend Braxton V. Burgess. I spoke briefly to honor my parents and to explain the rationale for the scholarship, and then it was time for my mother to speak. She could barely finish her remarks, as she was overcome with emotion and began to cry. Reverend Burgess and I each held one of her arms to support her as she continued to speak. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

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My mother, Claudia Louise Tarver, broke down in tears as she spoke about the scholarship named in honor of her and my father, Fred D. Tarver.

Fast-forward seven years. I watched from my home in New Jersey as the Fred and Louise Tarver Scholarship was awarded to a brilliant engineering student from Detroit, Garlin Glichrist. I couldn’t make the award ceremony, but my brother Fred, his wife Pat, and my mother did. We were all proud to award the scholarship to such a talented student who seemed to embody the values that my parents held dear. We felt that he was destined for success, but we had no idea of the impact he would ultimately have.


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My brother Fred Jr., mother, and sister-in-law Pat were present as Garlin was awarded the Fred and Louise Tarver Scholarship.


Garlin graduated with a masters degree in engineering from U-M. He worked for Microsoft Corporation in Seattle before realizing that his calling was public service, not corporate software development. He moved to Washington DC, ultimately holding a key position with Then he moved home to Detroit to take a position in city government. That is when I began to see the possibilities for Garlin’s future taking shape.


In 2017, Garlin ran for and lost the race for city clerk in Detroit. The loss was disheartening to Garlin, but it also fueled his re-engagement with his home community and supercharged his passion for public service. This year he was tapped by Gretchen Whitmer to run for Lieutenant Governor on her ticket, and last night they won easily. If Garlin had not demonstrated courage and faith in his career choices, he would not be Lieutenant Governor-Elect this morning. If he had not persisted after losing the race for Detroit City Clerk, he would not have been available to help Gretchen Whitmer win the election.

All of this brings me back to the power of persistence and faith. If my parents had not persisted in the face of tremendous adversity, I would not have been able, in the wake of the civil-rights era, to build a valuable engineering company. If I had not built such a company, I wouldn’t have had the resources to endow a scholarship at University of Michigan that would support Garlin Gilchrist at a critical time in his professional development. Had Garlin not demonstrated the faith of his convictions and dedicated his considerable talents to public service, he would not have been standing on the stage, victorious, with Gretchen Whitmer last night.

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Gretchen Whitmer and Garlin Glichrist – victorious!

We in this region, this state, this country will not get to the “more perfect union” we strive for in one giant leap. Faith, persistence, hard work, talent – the values of my parents and probably yours, too – will get us there, one step at a time.

Congratulations Gretchen and Garlin. Serve well.

David Tarver
November 7, 2018


Note 1: This story proves the power of persistence and the value of supporting young talent. I strongly encourage everyone with the means to support talented students, especially students of color, at the University of Michigan who want to be a positive force in their communities. If you wish to contribute to continue to build the Fred and Louise Tarver Scholarship Fund, please contact George Dendrinos at the University,, (734) 647-7113, and state your intentions. Feel free to copy me via email at if you wish.


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With heroes and mentors Anne Monterio and Leo McAfee at Anne’s 80th birthday celebration this past summer.

Note 2: I was with Assistant Dean Anne Monterio and Professor Leo McAfee this past summer on the occasion of Anne’s 80th birthday celebration in Las Vegas. They are the heroes and mentors who helped me greatly when I was a student at University of Michigan, and who years later were instrumental in the establishment of the Fred and Louise Tarver Scholarship Endowment.






David TarverDavid Tarver is a faculty member at the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, founder and President of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, author of Proving Ground: A Memoir, and an adviser and member at SpaceLab Detroit. He is a highly successful technology business executive with an incredible entrepreneurial journey.

Bobby Burton on Opening and Owning a Coworking Space

SpaceLab’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent 2018 summer intern Micah Womack spoke with our co-founder and COO Bobby Burton about owning a business and his vision for the company. 

Can you tell me about your company?

My company is SpaceLab Detroit, and we are a coworking space in downtown Detroit. We opened a little over a year ago. I’m blessed to say that we’ve leased all of our private office space, and we have a number of members in our shared office space. We focus on the construction and design industries – the majority of our members are in those fields.spacelab-17-bobby2.jpg

Walk us through your management strategy?

To build relationships with our customers. One of the hardest things to do is customer retention, yet it is most valuable things to do as a business. There’s nothing better than having long term customers, particularly customers who speak well of you. Customer relationships are very important. You want to make sure those are strong, and you meet your customer needs.

What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a client?

How much they enjoy the sense of community. The quality of the work environment at SpaceLab.

What’s your growth plan? What areas are you targeting?

Well, what I want to do is expand beyond coworking and to get more involved in the actual construction and development fields themselves. Coworking is a nice start, it’s a way to bring people together. Particularly, I want to help grow African-American construction contracting firms. There’s a huge opportunity in Detroit, and there’s a big demand that’s not being met.

What’s the biggest item on your to do list now?

We want to develop more relationships in the contractor arena.

What technology are you using?

A lot of web-based and cloud-based tools – that’s kind of where the industry going. Automation is huge in any businesses. It’s an easy way for a small business to look large and for a small business to increase their profits and to provide services that they couldn’t provide otherwise. We have a software package called Nexudus specifically tailored for coworking spaces. It allows us to manage our billing and our space, particularly our conference room space, and it allows our customers to manage the space for themselves. They can make their own bookings and pay their bills without having to interact with us.

What was your “breakthrough” project?

Completing SpaceLab’s build out in June of 2017. Opening the doors was the biggest.

What was your favorite project to do?

Wow, I mean going back into my days in I.T. (information technology), it was delivering new applications with new functionally to our customers. That was always fun and exciting.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting their own business?

Patience. Patience, and one of the things you have to have is a cushion. When you start a business, you’re going to struggle at first, so you need to have a good, solid financial plan and a financial cushion so you can make sure you can carry yourself through until time your money starts to come in and your business starts to become profitable.

SpaceLab Members are making lasting impressions on Detroit

LOUIS FISHER, AIA, NOMA is celebrating his 40th year of living in Detroit and practicing architecture in the city. Louis owns Architecture & Urban Design, PC, and was project architect for the U.S. Tennis Association’s Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums in Queens, NY (with Rossetti), the 1980’s expansion of Cobo Center in Detroit (with Sims-Varner) and designer for many other projects in Detroit. Louis is currently the national treasurer for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).


BERARDI +, with Detroit Director Bryan Cook, NOMA, AIA (left) and his team, continues to offer architectural and design services for several Motor City Match and Motor City Re-Store retail and restaurant projects.


VM3 CONSULTING CORP. has been recognized as a Diversity Focused Company by Corp! magazine. Led by founder and CEO Alisha Moss, VM3 helps clients jumpstart diversity programs by providing strategies that will ingrain diversity into their organizations. As a small, minority, woman-owned strategic management consulting firm, VM3 understands the importance of diversity and the difficulty of implementing it into corporate culture.

Museum Building Block Sets Created by SDG Associates

By Wesley Sims
Executive Vice President & Chief Financial and Operating Officer

SDG Associates, LLC

_DSC5896 (1)   In tribute to the amazing father and founding architect, Howard F. Sims, FAIA, his son Wesley and SDG Associates, LLC are excited to announce the creation of Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History building block sets. These unique custom interlocking blocks celebrate the rich history of Howard Sims as well as the magnificent museum that his firm, known as Sims-Varner and Associates at that time, designed in the late 1990’s.

lego_old_look   This custom set includes a commemorative booklet, and lets you build the iconic museum and prized landmark of Detroit’s cultural landscape. A limited number of sets are available at the Charles H. Wright museum gift shop for purchase.

Please help us to celebrate one of Michigan’s oldest minority architecture firms, and a Detroit based business for over 50 years, as we memorialize on of its most famous works into the realm of Legomania!


Congratulations, New Leaders Council 2018 Institute Cohort

NLC 2018 cohort

Congratulations to the 20 emerging leaders who completed the 2018 New Leaders Council Institute, a six-month leadership development program for progressive young professionals. The Detroit chapter met at SpaceLab Detroit from January to June 2018.

New Leaders Council (NLC) is a 501(c)(3) that works to recruit, train and promote the political entrepreneurs of tomorrow — trendsetters, elected officials and civically-engaged leaders in business and industry who will shape the future landscape. NLC has 48 chapters across the country with nearly 6,000 alumni.