Creating Lasting Change in Schools and Communities.

Let’s face it. Schools get blamed for solving problems they can’t fix by themselves.  We need more companies, churches and impact organizations working in partnership with schools, but schools are often ill-equipped to create and manage those partnerships effectively.  Uncommon Solutions works with leaders interested in working in new ways to change conditions and outcomes for kids and their families in America’s cities. Together.

With more than 20 years of experience leading change in Detroit through award-winning impact organizations and schools, Michael Tenbusch launched Uncommon Solutions to more effectively serve those people doing the most to help kids in America’s toughest cities.

Services We Offer

Personal and Organizational Development—Developing Tools and Habits for Success

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.  Past performance is a good indicator of future performance.  We know these things to be true, but we also believe that great leaders can change both.  That is why we are so determined to help leaders break out of their personal ruts and leadership teams forge healthy habits.  We offer a unique personal and organizational assessment that helps leaders see where their blind spots are, and then walk with them to a higher level.

Strategic Breakthrough—Bringing Leaders’ Aspirations to Life

Leaders of great organizations can be doing everything right and still feel behind.  They have inspirational ideas that wake them up in the middle of the night, but don’t have the people or time to work on them in the day.  We love to make those ideas a reality.  We provide the research and analysis to turn those dreams into frameworks and strategies that can transform an organization and its results.

The Jonathan Project—Helping Churches and Companies Change the World

People no longer want to just “go to church” or “work for a company.”  They want to know that the place where they spend their time and talents is making a difference in the world, indeed that it is actually changing it.  But most churches and companies are stuck in a cycle of service projects that fall far short of their people’s potential.  Building on the lessons shared in The Jonathan Effect: Helping Kids and Schools Win the Battle Against Poverty, we help churches and companies powerfully partner with a school or impact organization and align their work in a way that doesn’t just change the world; it changes their organization for the better too.

Textured Lives—Training Teams to Live and Lead Well in Polarizing Times

Productivity plummets when silent or overt battles rage over the issues of the day.  Team dynamics can suffer in simple conversations at the Keurig machine or through daily posts on social media.  In an increasingly polarized world, we find great joy and strength in living unpolarizing lives.  Our team is made up of good friends from different races, backgrounds and ideologies who believe that what unites us is more powerful than what divides us, and we can help your church, company or team rediscover that common ground through the difficult terrain of today’s world together.  We favor:

-Laughing over arguing.
-Understanding over being right.
-Forgiving over holding on.
-Trying over giving up.

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Team Bios

Shannon J. Gaston

The Detroit Area Director of Young Life, Shannon is responsible for leading local efforts of the non-denominational Christian ministry that reach area adolescents by building meaningful relationships, managing volunteer staff and executing club meeting and camps trips.  As a trainer, speaker and facilitator, Shannon often shares his insights on effective youth development, program design, spiritual formation and cultural intelligence.

Shannon holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Wayne State University and currently a student at Moody Bible Institute where he is an inaugural fellow in the Urban Scholars Program, a graduate-level scholarship program that combines classroom training with real-world community service for students who display a strong academic aptitude and a deep commitment to ministry.   As an emerging Christian scholar, his research is focused on exploring cross-cultural opportunities for shared power, indigenous leadership development and authentic relationships in the context of urban ministry.

Kevin Hofmann

Accomplished writer and public speaker Kevin Hofmann has appeared across the United States speaking to parents, students and professionals. His perspective and light-hearted yet contemplative view is sought by many.   Kevin has been interviewed by media including Nightline ABC and NPR and is quickly becoming a trusted voice on the topics of race and adoption.

Kevin’s memoir, Growing Up Black In White, brings his journey as a biracial, transracial adoptee to life and has been used in numerous colleges and universities as part of curricula in the schools of social work, psychology, education and multiculturalism.  Because his story also addresses the impact of race and culture in society, it serves as a catalyst for open discussions on diversity and inclusion as well as race and culture.  Kevin has worked with several K-12 school districts and adoption agencies as a diversity consultant.  He is also a committed court-appointed, special advocate for children, serves as secretary on the board of Adopt America Network, and co-facilitates an adoption support group for Adoption Network Cleveland.

Esohe R. Osai, Ph.D

Dr. Esohe Osai is an educator, collaborator, and researcher-practitioner who has served in urban communities for over 15 years. After graduating from the Detroit Public School system, Esohe earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  In her work as a high school teacher in Detroit, she began to gain insight into the promise and challenge of providing a meaningful and relevant education for young people in the 21st century.

Upon successfully graduating a cohort of high school students, Esohe returned to the University of Michigan where she completed a doctoral degree in education and psychology. She currently works for the University of Pittsburgh where she serves as a co-director for a university-assisted community schools initiative.  Employing a positive strengths approach in her community engagement practice, Esohe operates as a strategist who looks to identify innovative and practical solutions to challenges in schools and communities.

Clients Served