Get to Know HFC: Reco Spencer mentors Detroit Promise students

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Portrait of Reco Spencer.

Reco Spencer wanted to work in human services, particularly juvenile justice. He wanted to own his own business. He wanted to coach sports. He wanted to be in higher education.

He’s done it all.

“My ultimate goal is to become a multi-billionaire, so I can give all my money away to people who really need it,” said Spencer, the HFC Detroit Promise Transition Specialist, who also owns the E.V.O.L.V.E. Transformation Project, a transformational coaching business; and GO’EL (Gentlemen of Exquisite Luxury), a men’s clothing business.

From the foster care system to 25 years in human services and higher ed

Born in Detroit, Spencer was raised in the foster care system. He lives in Plymouth with Nicole, his wife of 18 years. They have four children.

Spencer graduated from Eastern High School in Lansing. After graduation, he enrolled at Lansing Community College, where he earned his associate degree in criminal justice.

After completing coursework at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Spencer earned his bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing from Davenport University. He subsequently earned his master’s degree in leadership with a concentration in sports from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Spencer has spent approximately 25 years in the fields of human services and higher education. For nearly 10 years, he coached basketball, most notably for five years as the junior varsity coach and later the associate varsity head coach at Harrison High School in Farmington Hills.

“I coached and developed players while building a competitive basketball program that improved its record by winning 3-5 more games each year,” said Spencer. “I developed a strength, conditioning, and athlete nutrition program for the off season, and I recruited new players.”

Proud that HFC has the largest number of Detroit Promise students in Michigan

From 2008-16, Spencer worked as a case manager for Samaritas, a social services nonprofit organization in Detroit. He advised and counseled more than 450 young people who were transitioning into supervised or independent living and out of the foster care system or entering college. He also connected them to resources such as food, housing, moving supplies, clothing, and insurance.

Spencer served as an academic guidance specialist at Madonna University in Livonia from 2016-18. He came to HFC in 2018 to support the Detroit Promise, a tuition-free college program that ensures any student graduating from a high school in Detroit will have a tuition-free path to earning an associate degree or technical certificate. The City of Detroit pays for the students’ tuition and fees as long as the students meet all requirements.

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with HFC, oversees Detroit Promise. HFC has been a proud participant in Detroit Promise since it was founded in 2016. HFC enrolls the largest number of Detroit Promise students of any college in the state.

“I’m proud of that fact,” said Spencer. “This is an amazing program. I love it. The support we get from the College leadership enables us to support the students.”

A force of nature

Spencer reports to Detroit Promise Program Coordinator Mary Yancy, Jr. Spencer started as a Detroit Promise campus success coach for five years. He began his current position at the start of 2024.

“In my new job, I assist students who are graduating and help them transition to a 4-year university or enter the workforce. I assist them in initiating this process and make sure this transition is as easy as possible,” explained Spencer. “I’m working with students on their way out instead of on their way in.”

Spencer has a lived-experience connection with some of his students.

“I really enjoy helping students who came from a similar, rough background like I did. I enjoy helping them navigate the higher education system,” he said. “There are some challenges. There’s red tape you sometimes have to cut through to get students what they need. Sometimes, that process takes too long.”

Yancy enjoys seeing Reco help students take their next steps.

“Reco is a force of nature! He began as a Detroit Promise coach in 2018 and immediately began connecting with our scholars. The way that he approaches serving ‘the whole student’ is directly aligned with our program,” said Yancy. “His new position as transition specialist is an evolution in his capacity to serve our Detroit Promise scholars. He is an amazing teammate and a great benefit to the HFC community.”

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