Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Innovation Fund Awards Nearly $2 Million in Grants

In Press Release

DETROIT— The Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Innovation Fund announced the awarding of nearly $2 million in grants to Head Start providers in Detroit during a news conference today at Matrix Human Services Cecil Center in Detroit, one of the Head Start agencies receiving a grant. The Fund will provide more than $4 million over two years to support high-quality Head Start services in Detroit.

In addition to Matrix, the agencies that were awarded grants today are: Metropolitan Children and Youth, New St. Paul Tabernacle and Starfish Family Services. Starfish Family Services is lead partner for a consortium of Head Start agencies that includes: Southwest Solutions, Focus: HOPE and Development Centers, Inc.

The grants are part of a one-of-a-kind initiative created by eight foundations that are part of the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative—the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the McGregor Fund, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Jewish Fund and PNC Foundation.

The foundations created the Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Innovation Fund to leverage and support a $48 million federal investment in Head Start programs in Detroit. Detroit was one of 5 cities selected to take part in a unique pilot opportunity in which applicants were encouraged to propose a “birth-to-5” approach to Head Start services, including services for expectant families.

Two distinctive features built into the Innovation Fund grants announced by the foundation today are designed to contribute to measurable, long-term improvements to Head Start services.

First, Detroit Head Start agencies receiving grants will be engaged in a common data collection effort. This effort is led and coordinated by HighScope, a national leader in research-based early childhood education and evaluation, and ardentCause L3C, a data collection, analysis and communication firm. They will help the agencies strategically augment data currently collected by Head Start to support data-driven learning and better decision making. And they will provide data analytics and dashboard tools throughout the life of the programs.

Second, all the Detroit agencies will meet regularly over the next two years to share information and outcomes and build best practices for Early Head Start and Head Start service delivery.

Here is a breakdown of the grants by organization:

Starfish Family Services — $750,000 to provide Head Start preschool services to nearly 1,300 children and families, including home-based services for infants, toddlers and pregnant women. The grant will cover implementation of an intensive professional development program for teachers developed in partnership with HighScope.

Matrix Human Services — $668,392 for Head Start services to 1,927 children and families in the Detroit neighborhoods of Southwest, Eastside and Central. Their work will focus on providing quality early childhood education for the children while linking parents to educational opportunities and economic resources.

Southwest Counseling Solutions — $75,000 to support two community-based doulas—pregnancy and early infancy coaches— to provide birth and parenting support to pregnant women and new mothers. This is the first program of its kind in Detroit to reach out to low-income mothers with doula (non-medical) services.

New St. Paul Tabernacle — $300,000 to implement evidence-based tools and professional staff development in its Early Head Start and Head Start programs serving 88 infants and toddlers, 475 preschoolers and 20 pregnant women. The center will implement a comprehensive professional development program in partnership with early childhood curriculum and evaluation experts HighScope, an oral- and dental-health education series, prenatal education workshop and teacher training and family enrichment workshops from Living Arts, a community organization in southwest Detroit.

Metropolitan Children and Youth Inc. (also known as United Children and Families) — $190,000 to support services for 512 children and their families, including prenatal care, full-day, full-year infant and toddler programs, and create spots for 210 additional children in its preschool programs. The grant also will support formative assessment, professional development for teachers and enhanced data gathering, tracking and reporting.

The programs proposed by the winning applicants will promote stronger outcomes for poor children and support economic revitalization in the communities where they live. A study commissioned by the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation estimates that for every one percent improvement in school readiness among Detroit’s approximately 7,200 kindergartners would result in a $7.2 million early childhood dividend.

The report estimates that based on high school graduation rates, poverty rates, crime rates, and other factors, the lifetime economic value of investing in school readiness for just one more child at risk of academic failure in Detroit is a conservative estimate of about $100,000, and approximately $39,000 for similar investments in Michigan as a whole. (Details can be found at These values do not include the lifetime earnings that accrue to the child achieving school readiness.)

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The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Community Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Community Foundation has distributed more than $600 million through more than 47,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. For more information, please visit