Detroit Regional Chamber > Member News > The Skillman Foundation Awards $200,000 To COTS To Expand Youth Program Services

The Skillman Foundation Awards $200,000 To COTS To Expand Youth Program Services

March 5, 2019
DETROIT, Feb. 25, 2019 – The Skillman Foundation awarded COTS (Coalition on Temporary Shelter) a $200,000 grant to fund a new program that uses art, plus social and emotional engagement, to help homeless youth develop important mental health markers related to executive functioning.

Designed by COTS, The Art+LifeChange project is a winning submission of The Skillman Foundation’s Call for Collaboration grant opportunities. In partnership with Chalkboard & Erasers, Creative Alchemy, LLC, and Broadstreet Presbyterian Church, the Art+LifeChange project will help homeless and low-income youth develop and strengthen important skills such as working memory, cognitive flexibility and inhibition.

The two-year grant (2018-2019) has a focused mission on locally ending the cycle of trauma, poverty and unstable housing through mental health development. Research has shown that after experiencing persistent poverty and trauma, youth are at risk of undermining brain development and executive functioning skills. The Art+LifeChange project also engages parents to help create a caring environment and supporting network for youth.

While meeting the immediate needs of homeless families, COTS’ overarching goal is to stop multi-generational homelessness in the current generation. The Art+LifeChange Project is part of COTS’ Passport to Self-Sufficiency™ approach, which is designed to help homeless families end their homelessness permanently. Using best practices of intensive coaching and mentoring, the passport approach helps families set and achieve outcomes in the five areas which are the core of self-sufficiency: housing and family stability, financial literacy, health and well-being, education and training, and employment and career development.

“This grant from The Skillman Foundation will allow us to do the essential work of helping youth grow their executive functioning skills,” said COTS CEO Cheryl P. Johnson. “These skills are critical for them to navigate the complex challenges they face at school, home and in life. In short, this funding will put the youth back on a roadmap for success.”

For this program, COTS will offer expanded sites for homeless and low-income youth, including:
Peggy’s Place, the new site for COTS Family-Only Emergency Shelter (Opening held Feb. 20 at 16700 Wyoming Ave.)
The community center located at Buersmeyer Manor Apartments (8520 Wyoming Ave.)
Broadstreet Presbyterian Church (12065 Broadstreet)

COTS and its partners seek to:
Serve 80 children, ages 8-14, in art-based after-school programming three days a week, enhancing executive functioning skills, building social-emotional skills, and preparing them for independence;
Implement a six-week art, gardening and nature-based summer program for a total of 40 children, ages 8-14, that builds social-emotional and executive functioning skills;
Hold two community events that engage parents, caregivers, siblings and the community to showcase the power of art to build social-emotional and executive functioning skills;
Offer incentives and support systems to mitigate transportation barriers and encourage participation.


Founded in 1982, Detroit-based COTS is a private, non-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, housing services, and comprehensive support services for homeless families and the at-risk population. COTS’ mission is to alleviate homelessness by providing an array of services which enable people to achieve self-sufficiency and obtain quality affordable housing. Through the Passport to Self-Sufficiency™, COTS assists families in reaching their housing, economic, health, education and career goals. COTS also exists to advocate for long-term solutions to the problem of homelessness.