Detroit Scholarship Fund Work Paves Way for the Detroit Promise

The Detroit Regional Chamber joined Mayor Mike Duggan this week in announcing the Detroit Promise Zone, guaranteeing Detroit high school graduates two years of free community college. The Detroit Promise was made possible through the work of the Detroit Scholarship Fund (DSF), which was created by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF) and is administered by the Chamber.

The Promise Zone is an authority the Mayor and the Detroit City Council created last fall to dedicate a portion of tax dollars to permanently fund the two-year scholarships.

Picking up on the work of the DSF, the Promise Zone will provide a tuition-free path to an associate’s degree at a community college for a graduate of any Detroit high school – no matter whether private, public, or charter.

“The Detroit Scholarship Fund – now called the Detroit Promise is a result of a partnership between Gov. Snyder, the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation and the Detroit Regional Chamber. Today marks an important day because today our great Mayor is picking up this great idea and making it Detroit’s,” Chamber President Sandy Baruah said during Tuesday’s announcement.

The Promise Zone legislation requires a private organization to fund two years of scholarships before any taxes can be captured. In 2013, the Chamber and the MEEF took on that challenge and created the DSF. Over the past three years, the DSF has helped nearly 2,000 Detroit high school graduates attend community college, tuition-free. The MEEF and the Chamber will continue to fund the scholarships moving forward.

Baruah said the Detroit Promise is a game-changer for economic development and could help decrease the city’s population flight.

“Imagine every house in Detroit with a ‘for sale’ sign out front – with a sign next to it that says ‘This house comes with two years of free college for your child.’ Think that will help repopulate the city and help with economic development? You bet it will,” he said.

Students can attend Henry Ford College, Macomb Community College, Oakland Community College, Schoolcraft College and Wayne County Community College District.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a high school senior preparing for college now or a second grader whose college career is years away,” Duggan said. “The Detroit Promise will always be there to help make a college education a reality. My hope is that this promise is just the beginning and that we’ll be able to raise enough money to promise every Detroit high school student four years of tuition-free education at our public universities.”

Read more about the Detroit Promise and the Detroit Scholarship Fund.

Great Lakes Metro Chambers Advocate for Energy Reform, Transportation Infrastructure Funding in D.C.

The Detroit Regional Chamber and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition met with members of Congress and their lead staff from 40 districts during a legislative fly-in to Washington, D.C. this month to discuss key issues important to the business future of the Great Lakes/Midwest region.

Representatives from 11 Coalition chambers advocated for the restoration of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), with adequate funding for harbors, channels, and the newly-created Great Lakes Navigation System. The delegation called for prompt passage of the Energy Policy Modernization Act while re-affirming the importance of the Soo Lock on Michigan’s economy and urging action on three critical dams in the upper Ohio River. Adequate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy Research and Development program were also prominent discussion topics.

The fly-in is part of a continuous effort by the Coalition to spur federal action on five issue areas critical to the future of the Great Lakes economy: transportation infrastructure, U.S./Canada border crossings, base load energy, high-skilled immigration, and the quality of the Great Lakes.

Inclusive Recovery

Live6 Alliance promotes revitalization efforts in northwest Detroit commercial corridor

By Melissa Anders

Page 18

Lauren Hood has experienced firsthand the success of Midtown Detroit’s revitalization as a resident of the hip, cultural neighborhood. Now she’s looking to replicate that achievement in the area where she grew up: the Livernois Avenue and McNichols Road corridor in northwest Detroit.

Hood serves as director of the Live6 Alliance, an organization launched in September 2015 to bring together key government, university, business and neighborhood stakeholders to ensure redevelopment of the Livernois and McNichols (6 Mile Road) area progresses in a unique, rich way.
“I don’t want it to be a generic Anytown U.S.A.,” Hood said. “It has to have a particular flavor and culture that people get excited about.”

The Live6 Alliance is the culmination of a few years of discussions among leaders at the University of Detroit Mercy, The Kresge Foundation and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. Kresge provided $500,000 in funding and UDM committed $200,000 toward the effort.

“We felt that it was really important to get the business leaders together in addition to the various leaders of the respective neighborhoods,” said UDM President Antoine Garibaldi.

Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation, said the Live6 Alliance will be an outgrowth of the community’s character and institutions just as Midtown is to its surrounding neighborhoods.

“Live6 promises to take the lessons of Midtown to build something as fine-tuned for and with this community to serve it as Midtown has done with its community,” Rapson said in remarks at the organization’s kick off.

While some parallels are drawn between Midtown and Live6 – both are home to universities committed to their redevelopment, have support from Kresge and rely on involvement from consulting group U3 Advisors – the neighborhoods are unique and should be treated as such. Midtown, Hood said, caters to younger, more transient renters, while the Live6 area has more long-term residents and homeowners.

“There’s just a different approach that you have to take than Midtown in selecting the kinds of businesses that you want to have in your corridors,” she said. “But a lot of the way that they develop their pipeline and get funding, all those things will be replicated. But whereas Midtown Inc. owns property and is the developer at times, Live6 is just going to be in a convening role.”

The short stretch of McNichols Road between UDM and Marygrove College is about 75 percent vacant, with existing businesses consisting of liquor stores and other tenants that doesn’t necessarily attract new residents, Hood said. The surrounding residential neighborhoods vary from the stable University District to the more distressed Fitzgerald Neighborhood.

Live6 is focused on placemaking, safety, business attraction and retention, neighborhood stabilization and commercial real estate development. While these five goals came out of a series of meetings with stakeholders, Hood said she’s reaching out to local residents to hear what they think should be the group’s focus areas.

“I think there are a lot more people that need to be engaged in order to do work that’s really sustainable and long-lasting, so I try to reach outside of the usual suspects,” she said.

For example, she spoke with a man who’s lived in the neighborhood for nearly 50 years. He talked about Larco’s Inn, a now-closed Italian restaurant that was an institution in the area where many local youths worked as a rite of passage.

Because of that five-minute conversation, Hood said she wants to attract locally owned businesses and restaurants instead of national chains, at least for the first few rounds of commercial development.

“I decided I wanted to create more institutions than just have Jimmy Johns,” she said. “They don’t care who they hire, if they’re from right there or if they’re from Ferndale or if they’re from downtown. It’s not important to them. But if it’s a mom-and-pop operation, they’re a little more committed to the space that they’re in, especially if they live in the neighborhood also.”

On the safety side, Garibaldi is pushing for legislation that would allow private universities like UDM to have their police force patrol outside of their campus boundaries. UDM has about 40 officers on staff and it wouldn’t require much additional resources to do more patrolling beyond the campus, he said.

“Just having the appearance of more officers on duty or on patrol beyond the boundaries of the campus provides a great deterrent to anyone even thinking about committing a crime,” he said.

About Lauren Hood

Lauren Hood grew up in the very neighborhood she’s now working to revitalize.

Hood, 43, was raised in Detroit’s Bagley neighborhood, part of the focus area of the Live6 Alliance where she serves as director.

Prior to joining Live6 in September 2015, Hood worked in community and economic development for the city of Highland Park and community engagement for Loveland Technologies, among other endeavors. She also worked in event marketing in the entertainment industry.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in business and master’s degree in community development from the University of Detroit Mercy.

The Power of Conversation

Cohesion requires difficult dialogue

By Sandy Baruah

Page 4

Gentrification. Inclusion. The UAW. These are not topics typically embraced by a business organization, paid for by business to address business issues. In fact, some would argue there is simply too much risk delving into these issues. Yet over the past five years, that’s exactly the type of thought-provoking content the Detroit Regional Chamber has brought to our members and the entire state via both the Detroit Policy Conference and Mackinac Policy Conference.

This is our role as an organization serving business in the most populous, diverse and economically dynamic region of Michigan. It is up to us to host the difficult conversations needed to move our state forward. Using conferences at Detroit and Mackinac, two of the state’s most prominent policy forums, our organization can elevate issues and convene people who are essential to translating that conversation into action and results.

At February’s Detroit Policy Conference, former Mayor Dave Bing delivered provocative remarks about inclusion of African-Americans in the city’s recovery as well as his concern about racial tensions. Some nodded in agreement. Others were infuriated or saw it as unnecessarily divisive. But there’s little doubt everyone left thinking about what he said.

Whether you agree with the former mayor or not, it reflects a perception that is real and shared by some in our community, and that makes it worth exploring. His comments served as part of the dialogue from our event – entirely focused on the neighborhoods – which continued the next morning on WJR and through the rest of the week on television news, as well as media outlets throughout the region.

Much like our continued conversations at previous events about economic inclusion and “uniting two Detroits,” not everyone agreed. Not everyone was happy. But that’s a good thing, unanimous agreement is uncommon, and can be blinding. However, difficult conversations that are fair and include the entire community can build trust and strengthen relationships. They are also central to collaboration and will be critical to ensuring the opportunity realized downtown and midtown reaches the rest of the city.

Figuring out how those in underserved neighborhoods have the opportunity to participate in our economy is a monumental challenge. Mayor Duggan is demonstrating exemplary leadership in his efforts to grow Detroit’s neighborhoods. That growth holds the key to the future of the city and region where our members work, live and play. It cannot be achieved by one conference, leader, organization or community. It is going to take a cohesive regional effort with a commitment to the same basic long-term vision: An inclusive city of Detroit.

That will not come without having the honest, difficult, intentional and inclusive conversation followed by action. Understanding issues of race, gentrification and social unrest can help the region cohesively work through these issues, particularly as the 50th anniversary of 1967 approaches. That will require hard work and a certain level of discomfort but it is necessary to move forward.

However enjoyable Conference attendees found David Maraniss’ keynote remarks about 1963 and “Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story,” we don’t want him back here speaking about a sequel on the missed opportunities in post-bankruptcy Detroit. He has enough best-sellers.

Let’s write Detroit’s next historic chapter together – and not forget, it’ll be more prosperous if it includes everyone.

Sandy Baruah is president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

An Economy for All

John Hope Bryant discusses how financial literacy can transform neighborhoods
By Dawson Bell

Page 9

John Hope Bryant refuses to believe that poverty and desperation are immutable conditions. A 50-year-old entrepreneur, activist and author, Bryant is the inspiration behind Operation HOPE, a multifaceted initiative aimed at increasing financial literacy, entrepreneurialism and hope in communities where they are in short supply, including Detroit’s impoverished neighborhoods.

A featured speaker at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference, Bryant’s impassioned remarks inspired To-Do List action items focused on increasing financial literacy in underserved areas and raising awareness in micro-lending in revitalization efforts. The Chamber is now working with Bryant to recruit businesses to host HOPE Inside Centers throughout the city. Prior to his appearance at the 2016 Detroit Policy Conference, Bryant spoke to the Detroiter about how the American economy can be revived, one neighborhood at a time.

Tell us about the philosophy and vision of Operation HOPE?

I’m a businessman and an entrepreneur from South Central (Los Angeles) and Compton. I got a lot of support from my parents, but I grew up with a lot of bright, talented people who never got the memo about how the economy works. The people we saw with money were drug dealers, rap stars and athletes. Kids thought that was normal. They didn’t see that the economy is built on small companies by entrepreneurs who make small companies big.

Steve Jobs was brilliant, but if he’d been born on the south side of Chicago to poor black parents … he would not have created Apple. We need to get our storyline back. It’s not a small thing. It’s a civil rights issue. If Martin Luther King were alive today, he would be dealing with this.

So, what do you do?

Operation HOPE was founded after the Rodney King riots in LA (in 1992) as a way to expand financial literacy in urban communities and foster a culture of entrepreneurism and economic aspiration among young people. Nothing improves your life more than God and love, but you can raise your credit score. The (Operation HOPE) centers can give you the tools to do that.

We’ve changed the business model (for the centers). We started with standalone buildings, but we found that people wouldn’t come in because they were ashamed to be seen looking for that kind of help. Plus, the costs were eating us alive. So, we flipped the switch and went to the nonprofit financial services model and started to partner with banks and community institutions where we can co-locate. The banks began to see that when you give customers the tools to become financially stable, they become borrowers and business partners instead of bad debts. Now (the banks) want to know how many more centers they can have.

We’re getting requests from hospitals, police departments, hotels. Many of them recognized that their own employees need assistance with financial literacy. Our goal is to have 1,000 locations open by 2020. Our Detroit location has exceeded all expectations … with more in the works.

What can you say about the kind of fit Detroit is for a program like Operation HOPE? Are there special challenges, distinct opportunities?

Detroit is in many ways a perfect place for us to be. Every time I come there I’m inspired, and the potential is everywhere. The lack of hope is a problem. The lack of literacy among the minority population is a problem. The role modeling … of seeing successful black and brown entrepreneurs. But the biggest problem we have is scale. We have just one location. The problem with poverty is not poverty, it’s culture. The problem in Detroit is you’ve been hijacked by thug culture … by a decreasing tax base … by abandoned homes. Two thousand sixteen is a very important year. We’ve got to get 10 locations. We’ve got to create … internships, schools. Once that happens 100 times, Detroit starts to turn around.

What’s the evidence that programs like yours makes a difference?

I point to our clients. We have 2 million clients. We directed $2.5 billion into underserved neighborhoods. So, what we’re doing is not theoretical. We have done the research of how our clients, if you move their credit scores 120 points … what kind of decisions they make. That person … makes fundamentally different decisions. Their self-esteem is different. Their orientation is different. The way they walk, talk and feel about themselves is different.

You’ve said there’s a difference between being broke and being poor. What do you mean by that?

Being broke is economic. Being poor is a frame of mind … a depressed condition of your spirit, and you must vow to never be poor again. Until you deal with that, you will never solve poverty. We are trying to use the free enterprise system to set people free, and make the economy work for all. Operation HOPE is really about building the first ever nonprofit financial service network for the underserved, with the mission of building an economy for all and creating an open-source capitalism model where people can set themselves free, to have the freedom of self-determination. I’m not a conservative capitalist or a liberal capitalist. I’m a capitalist.

You’ve said you’d like to see Operation HOPE centers replace payday lenders and check-cashing operations in poor neighborhoods. Why? Aren’t they providing a service that people need?

There’s good capitalism and bad capitalism. I’m not opposed to those types of operations in moderation, but when you take out a $300 payday loan that you can’t repay on time and it becomes $1,300 in six weeks, that’s not capitalism. That’s getting robbed in broad daylight. It’s modern financial crack. I’m not trying to put them out of business. I’m trying to rob them of their customers. I’m trying to turn poor neighborhoods into 700-credit-score neighborhoods.

About Operation HOPE

Operation HOPE, the nonprofit financial empowerment agency headed by entrepreneur, businessman and author John Hope Bryant, is founded on a simple idea: America and the world, especially in poverty stricken urban areas, have enormous untapped potential for economic and spiritual growth.

The organization’s mission is similarly simple: to develop and deploy resources that will allow poor people to assert control over their financial futures and utilize their innate entrepreneurial gifts. Operation HOPE relies on a variety of programs to realize those goals, partnering with corporate sponsors like Gallup Inc. and major banking institutions to promote financial literacy school-based economic education and business mentoring.

Improving financial literacy and increasing participation in the mainstream economy is the single best way to transform neighborhoods and communities from pockets of despair to thriving, vital contributors to regional and national prosperity, Bryant said.

Phoenix Site Selectors Look to Detroit for Workforce Talent

As national and international investors increasingly set their sights on the Detroit region’s revitalization, the Detroit Regional Chamber kicked off a new round of site selector engagement during a two-day trip to Phoenix, Ariz. in March.

The trip served as a springboard to build relationships in a key market and educate site selectors about the region’s highly-skilled workforce, supply chain and industry trends — information manufacturers and investors can use when looking for a location to grow their operations.

“Twenty to 30 percent of corporate real estate transactions now involve the assistance of site selectors,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of Business Attraction for the Chamber. “We’re trying to be proactive by making the business case for Detroit and getting timely information about the region in front of these site selectors.”

The Chamber partnered with economic developers from Consumers Energy, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Oakland County, and the city of Southfield to host one-one-one meetings with four firms.

Brian Bilger, senior business development representative for the Chamber, said questions ranged from training opportunities, to university degree programs and quality of life amenities to attract and maintain talented millennials.

Bilger said oftentimes potential investors are interested in an entire region’s assets versus a specific city or community. Telling that story with one unified voice can make the difference from a “no way” to becoming the top of a company’s list for possible growth or expansion.

Mark Adams, senior business development representative for Oakland County, said trips like Phoenix are advantageous both from an information and investment standpoint.

“These site selector missions provides an opportunity for the Detroit region to tell our own story of why business thrives in Michigan. One of the leading agencies, CBRE Labor Analytics and CBRE Incentive Practice, has done several corporate attraction and expansion deals in the region that have resulted in several hundred jobs to Michigan residents,” he said. “That’s a return on investment that we all can understand. I hope the Chamber continues to target the consultant business sector in the future.”

Robinson said the Chamber will engage with the Phoenix site selectors throughout the year through providing updates on recent project announcements, positive news and legislative policy changes. The Chamber will next lead a delegation of regional partners to meet with site selectors in the Dallas market in April.

For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson.

Dearborn Hills Golf Course Has Openings for Leagues

If your golf league is looking for a new home, or if you and your friends are attempting to launch a league, the Robert Herndon Dearborn Hills Golf Course can address your needs. Dearborn Hills is a beautiful 18-hole executive course nestled in the valley of the Rouge River and conveniently located on Telegraph just north of Michigan Avenue.

The course has openings for nine-hole leagues Monday through Thursday next spring/summer, with starting tee times available between 4-6 p.m. Most leagues run 16 weeks, but the course will work with you to meet your needs.

Dearborn Hills features weekly nine-hole league play for just $16. Cart rental is an additional $5. The Grille Room at the course also features weekly specials exclusively for league members.

For information, or to register your league, contact the course pro, Richard Angelo, at, or call (313) 563-GOLF.

Hitachi Business Finance’s Toby Dahm to Speak at Business Valuation Event

Hitachi Business Finance Senior Vice President Toby Dahm will moderate and participate in an upcoming CFA panel event, “Business Valuation” on Thursday, March 31 at the Somerset Inn in Troy.

The program provides a snapshot of business valuation, whether it is for transactional purposes (fairness and solvency opinions, purchase/sale of companies, succession and estate planning) or litigation purposes (shareholder disputes, post-transaction disputes, fraudulent conveyance). Fellow speakers include Scott Eisenberg of Amherst Partners, John Kerschen of Charter Capital Partners, and Jesse Ultz of Stout Risius Ross.

“A lot more goes into business valuation than what meets the eye,” says Dahm. “Smart business owners should have a strategy around their business value from inception through exit. All significant business decisions impact the value which in turn affects the owners, successors, and numerous other parties, including legal advisories, suitors, or acquisition targets.”

More information can be found at

About Hitachi Business Finance
Hitachi Business Finance is a division of Hitachi Capital America Corp. and provides customized, flexible financing solutions for companies looking for creative options to grow and sustain their businesses. Our solutions include factoring and revolving lines of credit secured by accounts receivable, inventory, and equipment. Based in Rochester, Michigan with an office in Atlanta, we provide financing solutions for small to mid-market companies across the United States. Learn more by visiting or calling (248) 658-1100.

About Hitachi Capital America Corp.
Hitachi Capital America Corp. is an independent, diversified leasing and financial services company providing financing to Hitachi group companies and the commercial business sector in the United States and Canada. Hitachi Capital America offers a variety of asset-based financing solutions with a business focus on truck, vendor, trade, and medical equipment finance, as well as lease discounting and software financing.

Learn more at

Detroit solidifies free college degree program

From: The Detroit News

By Christine Ferretti and Kim Kozlowski

March 22, 2016

Detroit is making a promise to every high school student: Graduate and there will be funding for the first two years of college.

The city is able to make this promise because a program that already has been supporting Detroit students’ college education will get permanent funding to guarantee a tuition-free path to an associate degree for every student who graduates from a school in the city.

Meanwhile, a pilot program also is being launched to give some Detroit students scholarships to earn four-year degrees.

Officials announced Tuesday the two-year college scholarships for city students will be available in perpetuity through the Detroit Promise Zone, a designation created by law during the administration of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm that allows Detroit to capture a portion of state education taxes generated in the city to offer scholarships.

It will be known as the Detroit Promise.

“We are making a promise to every single child who graduates in the city of Detroit that you have your first two years of college paid for at community college,” Mayor Mike Duggan said during a press conference.

“It doesn’t matter today if you are in 10th grade or you’re in third grade, we can promise you that when your time comes, at least your first two years are going to be paid for because you graduated from a school in the city of Detroit.”

Both scholarships will build on the Detroit Scholarship Fund, funded by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation and other foundations, which has paved the way for 1,500 students to study for their associate degrees.

The Detroit Promise scholarship will cover tuition and fees for up to three years, or the time required to earn an associate degree, whichever is less, the plan notes. Officials say the city’s 2016 graduates will be the first eligible for the new program.

The program funding four-year scholarships will be funded by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, most of the state’s public universities, a few private colleges, and the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“We’re trying to expand access so more students are covered and have educational options,” said Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent for the chamber.

Under the Detroit Promise, Detroit high school graduates can attend one of five community colleges — Henry Ford, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb or Schoolcraft College — to obtain a two-year degree.

Eligible students have up to one year after graduation to apply for the program. Once enrolled, they must maintain a full-time course load, with a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester.

Within three years, the Detroit Promise will be funded in perpetuity with promise zone tax dollars for Detroit students who have attended a public, charter, private, parochial or Education Achievement Authority school in the city for two years.

Surrounded by a group of students and education, business and foundation leaders, Duggan touted the program Tuesday, the same day the Michigan Senate supported key legislation to reform Detroit Public Schools, a move the mayor says is needed to improve the standard of education and retain families in the city.

Jasmine Johnson, a junior at Cass Technological High School, said afterward she is going to take advantage of the Detroit Promise.

“Kids already think they can’t go to college,” said Johnson, 16. “This is a great opportunity to let kids know you don’t have to (skip) college because you don’t have the money for it. You get your first two years free.”

Though it wasn’t highlighted during the press conference, Detroit Regional Chamber officials said they have identified 300 Detroit school students who are qualified academically for the pilot program that will provide funding for four-year degrees.

It’s in similar spirit as the Kalamazoo Promise, a pioneering free-tuition program. The anonymously funded plan, announced in the fall of 2005, pays the college tuition of students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Duggan last year appointed the city’s eight-member Detroit Promise Zone Authority Board, which was approved by the City Council. On Monday, the Michigan Department of Treasury approved the authority board’s development plan for the scholarship program, officials said.

In Detroit, about 4,500 students graduate from high school each year.

The Detroit Promise scholarship as well as the pilot program for four-year degrees are “last dollar” scholarships used to cover tuition and other mandatory fees not covered by federal or state grant sources. Students must apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and accept all federal or state grants prior to the determination of eligibility for Promise, according to the development plan.

The effort works with students to ensure they are filling out financial aid assistance forms and covers the remaining tuition costs, and it offers career coaching and support services.

Currently, Duggan says, more than 25,000 students today are going to high school outside the city. The dedicated tax funding toward the scholarships will provide another selling point to strengthen the city’s schools, he said.

Duggan said the initiative should have happened years ago, but “like so many things, Detroit didn’t move quickly enough to provide support for our children.”

“All we can do right now is move forward,” said the mayor, noting the chamber’s program when it kicked off in 2013, ensured that any student that graduated from any high school in the city was provided access to the free community college education.

Under statute, Detroit’s Promise Zone Authority must operate for two years and meet goals outlined in its plan before it can capture the tax, allowing it to make the program permanent and potentially expand offerings.

The legislation mandates that communities first leverage private funding. In the interim, the Detroit Scholarship Fund would continue to cover the cost of the chamber-run program that initially launched in 2013.

Duggan on Tuesday said that in the 2018-19 tax year tax dollars from the growth of the city will start to go into the scholarship fund.

“What the chamber has done is raise the money to create a bridge for that,” he said. “We can’t expect the chamber to raise scholarship money forever. This is the way that it was intended to work. They’ve done a wonderful job in the short-run. We will have funding out of the education tax in the long-run.”

The city forecasts the tax capture, once effective, would provide funding for the next two decades, ranging from $1 million per year up to $4.5 million projected in 2035, according to property value estimates rooted in the city’s bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment.

Students must register for the Detroit Scholarship Fund and submit a free application for Federal Student Aid by June 30. For more information, visit

If Detroit high schoolers have already applied for a scholarship through or, they do not have to reapply following Tuesday’s announcement.

Champions of the Neighborhood

Detroit organizations leading neighborhood revitalization 

By Daniel A. Washington 

Page 20

With a penchant for being the underdog, many Detroit residents have responded to challenges facing their communities and driving the change they want to see, piece by piece. They are working at the grassroots level to revitalize many of Detroit’s proud and historic neighborhoods with increased public and private sectors partners.

“We have gotten a lot of support from the foundation sector and even some corporate donations, but we are really seeing investment at the grassroots business level. Small businesses have also stepped up to really help revitalize the communities in which they live and work,” said Tom Goddeeris, executive director of Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC).

Live in Osborn, a community initiative to attract new residents and businesses to the Osborn neighborhood and others in northeast Detroit through revitalization, is aggressively addressing a number of problems that have plagued its community. In a collaborative effort with Matrix Human Services and others in the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, Live in Osborn is boarding up more than 1,000 windows and doorways of vacant homes.

“When you think of revitalization, most times it’s an attempt to take the midtown and downtown approach. But there has been such a lack of investment in the neighborhoods that you must look at community hubs, those who have invested and residents that are engaged and make a difference to really help to move the needle,” said Quincy Jones, executive director of Osborn Neighborhood Alliance.

Block clubs, associations and organizations have reformed and emerged to fight against crime, blight and a lack of small businesses to service communities across the Detroit’s neighborhoods. Organizations and individuals from both the public and private sectors have increased funding and attention to revitalize the city’s neighborhoods collectively.

“I can’t keep up with all of the new places popping up in Midtown,” said Rico Razo, city of Detroit District 6 manager. “We have the Midwest Civic Council of block clubs who organize the 48210 and 48204 community, the Springdale Woodmere Block Club who bring added safety to 48209, the Original United group in 48217 and several Woodbridge safety and community development groups.”

Midtown, northeast and southwest Detroit are not the only communities taking action in the revitalization of the city’s neighborhoods.

Last year, the University of Detroit Mercy, along with Capital Impact Partners collaborated to create LIVE6 Alliance, a nonprofit focused on planning and development while enhancing quality of life and economic opportunity in Northwest Detroit – with a particular focus on the McNichols and Livernois corridors.

“We are focused on more than just businesses,” said LIVE6 Alliance Acting Director Lauren Hood. “I am hoping to really focus energy and dollars to making Livernois and the surrounding area become known as the ‘cultural corridor’ with a number of attractive offerings for the neighborhoods and those visiting the area.”

Some of the newest offerings include: Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles, Good Cakes and Bakes and Art in Motion. The increase in the number of eateries and art-related establishments have been credited for helping a resurgence in population to the area according to city officials.

Early this year, Crain’s Detroit Business reported on Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles success in its first year. The goal of the restaurant upon its opening in January, 2015 was $1 million in sales – exceeding expectations, more than $2 million of sales were generated and nearly 50 employees were hired from the surrounding area.

“I own several other properties along Livernois. I am currently renovating many of them now. The goal is to provide retail space for other ‘small’ businesses that fit in with the vision that we have for The Avenue of Fashion,” said owner Ron Bartell in a Crain’s interview. “I’d like to attract businesses that aren’t common in the ‘neighborhoods,’ businesses that provide access that sometimes overlooks urban consumers.”

The rise in communal accountability has helped stabilize neighborhoods throughout the city making them more desirable places to live and work, with many of them recently becoming hotbeds of creativity and business ventures outside of the downtown business district.

“I could go on and on, but the nonprofits, organizations and block clubs truly held the city down for many years when it didn’t have the resources to effectively make a positive impact in the neighborhoods,” said Razo.

With a renewed energy and sense of pride, individuals in Detroit’s communities continue to work to revitalize on a larger scale with the help of partnerships with the local government, Detroit Land Bank (DLBA), The Kresge Foundation and The Skillman Foundation.

Rebranded and launched in 2014, the DLBA has assisted in providing homeowners with the opportunity to own side lots, purchase newly renovated houses and witness blight issues resolved on a number of blocks in neighborhoods across the city.

“The Detroit Land Bank is dedicated to improving the lives of those in the community, we understand a lot of talk is being had about downtown and the significant amount of money that is flowing, but we don’t own anything downtown,” said Craig Fahle, director of public affairs at the DLBA. “Nearly all of our resources are invested in the communities – whether it is through renovation, demolition or communication to the neighborhoods – we are focused on the neighborhoods and on improving them.”

The DBLA has successfully auctioned off more than 800 houses to residents, eliminated more than 70 houses identified for harboring illegal activity and restored more than 800 property titles that are now available for purchase.

“We are working hard to reward the large number of loyal residents who have taken it upon themselves to maintain properties that they don’t even own,” said Fahle. “We are eager and excited to see the tide changing and more people investing in the neighborhoods that for so long seem to have been abandoned by the public and officials.”

From block clubs to large philanthropic organizations and small businesses to large corporations, many partners hold a piece of the urban revitalization puzzle.