Addressing opportunities to improve lives in southeast Michigan requires innovative approaches.
The Community Foundation partners with organizations that are making improvements on a system-wide basis. We support programs that demonstrate emerging ideas, new collaborations, and solutions to significant challenges.
Research shows that children with well-developed social and emotional skills are more successful in school and life. The Positive Emotional Development and Learning Skills (PEDALS) Program teaches 3- to 5-year-old children functioning skills, including working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. With support from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and the Community Foundation’s oversight, implementation of PEDALS Southeast Michigan will impact the outcomes of more than 1,100 children in 86 classrooms in the region by 2020.
Low-income families often face barriers to being healthy that higher income families do not. Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC Detroit), an organization that equips struggling communities with the capital, strategy, and know-how to become places where people can thrive, developed an innovative community health worker program. The initiative is designed to improve health “on the ground” by building trust between Detroit residents and health care providers. Community health and safety workers act as liaisons between residents and local law enforcement, providing safety training and education to block clubs and offering health and wellness training for children, parents, and seniors. The Community Foundation provided funds to support additional health workers to help expand the program into more neighborhoods.
Local newspapers have seen sharp declines in readership and diversity of reporting in recent years. Understanding the importance of supporting local news, the Community Foundation partnered with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation to expand local news reporting and involve community residents in telling the story of Detroit’s future. The partnership led to the creation of the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund, which has provided $650,000 to 15 journalism projects since 2017.
Projects have ranged from a race and justice reporting initiative highlighting issues affecting communities of color to workshops that advance citizen journalism. Through one of the grants, the Detroit Free Press is partnering with Michigan Community Resources to teach residents how to use the Freedom of Information Act to access information.