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.

SpaceLab Welcomes Berardi+Partners

Headquartered in Ohio, Berardi + Partners is a full service, multi-disciplinary Architecture, Interior Design, and Engineering firm with over 40 years of experience. We’re happy to announce that they’ve opened their first Michigan office in SpaceLab Detroit. See more about the firm and their projects on their website.

Bryan Cook, who leads the Detroit team, is also president of the Detroit Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects.

Photos, top right: Latrice Harrison, Bryan Cook, George Berardi – Design Strategist and Managing Partner, and Chris Bruzzese – Director of Operations and Partner; bottom: Morgan Embtly, Latrice Harrison, Bryan Cook, and Mariam Okunlola 

News Release: Coworking Space for Built Environment Professionals Opens in Detroit, Introduces New Members

Brenda V. Peek
Peak Communications Group

Karen Burton
SpaceLab Detroit


DETROIT, June 2017 – SpaceLab Detroit celebrated its grand opening with nearly 200 guests in the company’s newly constructed 5200 square foot office at 607 Shelby Street in downtown Detroit, just two blocks from Cobo Center. Members of the city’s built environment community – real estate brokers and developers, architects, interior designers, engineers, builders, urban planners, artists – and other professionals toured the coworking and executive office space that features services and amenities unique to the design and building industry.

SpaceLab Detroit owners describe the business as “next-level coworking”: many members have been in business for 20 years or more, and the office design incorporates higher-end furniture and finishes that more established companies desire. SpaceLab offers an affordable opportunity for independent business owners to share prime, downtown office space with some of the city’s most influential corporations and organizations.

Office amenities include a materials library, a large-format plotter for printing construction drawings, video conferencing, along with a community kitchen and three meeting rooms – including a glass-enclosed conference and event space. Educational and networking events and room rentals are available to members and non-members. A render farm for computer-generated imagery will soon be available.

SpaceLab is accepting applications for monthly memberships. Monthly pricing options begin at $40 for use of the conference rooms and library to choices of shared work areas and desk rentals and private offices.

Michal Catari, owner of Wolf Virtual Reality, LLC, a 3D visualization and virtual production company, says of his experience as a SpaceLab member, “In the last four weeks, Wolf VR has conducted more than seven introductory meetings and increased its clients by more than five new customers. The opportunities at SpaceLab are tremendous. Spacelab and its members are all contributing to transform and shape a brighter future for Detroit.” Wolf VR’s mission is to visually capture their client’s imagination, looking through their eyes, and desires into reality.

Other member companies include:

Berardi + Partners: Headquartered in Ohio, Berardi + Partners is a full service, multi-disciplinary architecture, interior design, and engineering firm with over 40 years of experience. They’ve located their first Michigan office in SpaceLab Detroit. Bryan Cook leads the Detroit team and is also president of the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Minority Architects.

Davis Corporate Solutions: Partnering with organizations to create productive corporate, healthcare and education environments, Davis Corporate Solutions is the Michigan territory representative for OFS Brands, Carvart, and Visual Magnetics, and was the sales representative for furniture at SpaceLab.

Architecture & Urban Design, PC: A&UD believes that architecture is art that makes a difference in people’s lives – art that must be useful and make good use of the limited resources of the Earth. A&UD has been a part of Detroit’s evolution and reconstruction for nearly two decades, and continues to provide architecture with the assistance of creative and culturally diverse staff that reflect the strength of our community.

Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative: UEI facilitates the creation of innovative, sustainable business solutions to important urban problems. Over the last four years, the non-profit organization has hosted symposia in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Flint, convening entrepreneurs and thought leaders in business, academia, community organizations and government.

Building Industry Resources, LLC: BIR offers social media, marketing and business development services to encourage and assist firms and professionals to reach their full potential. With years of technical and business experience in the design and building industry, BIR offers clients an insider’s view to markets, clients and competition.

Whatever Technology Group: This information technology start-up caters to the computer and technical needs of small businesses and provides affordable quality service for personal technology needs.

SpaceLab Detroit is owned by Space Lab Development, led by husband and wife team Bobby and Karen Burton. Karen is an architectural designer, marketing consultant and member of the National Association of Women in Construction, National Organization of Minority Architects, and an associate member of the American Institute of Architects. Bobby is an accountant former IT executive with a national bank.

SpaceLab is a Round 4 City of Detroit Motor City Match Space awardee and was awarded a cash grant in Round 7.

For more information about SpaceLab Detroit membership, see



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