Ford Foundation announces new Detroit grants
By John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press
The New York-based Ford Foundation, already a major donor to Detroit’s Grand Bargain that raised $816 million in public and foundation money to ease the city’s path out of bankruptcy, last week announced a new round of grants designed to boost civic participation in Detroit.
Some $1.3 million in grants will go to seven efforts focused on building civic engagement at the grassroots level in the city.
“It’s critical to lift up the voices of those living closest to the challenges in Detroit and to build influence and problem-solving capacity from the ground up,” said Xavier de Souza Briggs, vice president of the Ford Foundation’s Economic Opportunity and Assets program. “This marks the beginning of a new phase in our support for Detroit, in which we work with partners to creatively support the city’s people and their efforts to set Detroit on a more open and inclusive path.”
The seven efforts include:
■ Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan to create a new coalition of community organizing groups addressing inequality in Detroit.
■ Detroit Voices to support the building of community advisory councils in each of the seven City Council districts and to enhance their ability to participate in policy debates.
■ Demos: Building Movement Project — Works with social service agencies in Detroit neighborhoods to do community organizing and develop a “People’s Platform” for revitalization and development in Detroit.
■ Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation supports the Consortium of Hispanic Agencies to incorporate community organizing and policy engagement into their work.
■ PICO to support the engagement of the faith community in the development of leaders among immigrants, low-wage workers and formerly incarcerated men and women.
■ 482Forward to help organize parents and students to be engaged in achieving measurable school reforms.
■ Community Development Advocates of Detroit to launch civic leadership efforts at the neighborhood block club level.
“This community truly does have the opportunity to reimagine itself,” said Briggs. “We want to support local groups that are fighting for the chance to do just that and build bridges across old divides, giving all the people of Detroit a voice and a meaningful role in tackling shared challenges.”
Earlier this year, the foundation committed $125 million to the Grand Bargain over the next 15 years. In 2015, the foundation expects to make additional grants of more than $10 million above and beyond the Grand Bargain commitment.
This support, in addition to bolstering civic engagement in Detroit, will be focused on housing and community development, educational opportunities, economic revitalization and job creation, regional transportation infrastructure, and arts and culture organizations.
Hantz Farms recognized
Within just a year of signing its agreement with the City of Detroit, the Hantz Farms project has fulfilled the promises in its development pact with the city. It has removed 53 blighted structures, planted 15,500 trees and maintained nearly 2,000 lots in its project area on the east side of Detroit.
Last week, the city presented founder John Hantz with a certificate of completion in a small ceremony near Mack and McClellan. In photo, Mike Score, president of Hantz Farms LLC, speaks to well-wishers at the ceremony in front of sugar maples recently planted in the effort.