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$2 million from Kresge supports 17 projects in neighborhoods across Detroit


The Kresge Foundation today announced grants totaling $2 million to 17 nonprofits for projects to revitalize neighborhoods across Detroit.

This final round of grants in the Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit pilot initiative brings its grant total to $5 million since being announced three years ago.

The new grants, reflecting the foundation’s deepening commitment to city neighborhoods, will fund, for example, the creation of a new community hub on Grand River in the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood and conversion of a blighted five-block stretch of the Morningside neighborhood into an agricultural greenway. The grants support renovation of an abandoned duplex into an art center in central Detroit and a Southwest Detroit program to promote the conversion of vacant second floors of commercial buildings into needed residential spaces.

In addition to the creation of community gathering spots, green spaces and conversion of abandoned properties to new uses, efforts under the Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit umbrella will make neighborhood streets and sidewalks more walkable, bring artists and community organizations together for collaborations in parks, and engage youth in neighborhood revitalization.

Kresge’s support for these shovel-ready projects ranges from $75,000 to $150,000 in the initiative announced in 2014 as a three-year, $5 million pilot effort to promote visible, positive change across the map of Detroit.

The latest grants were chosen from nearly 70 applications, making for a highly competitive process.

“Kresge’s Detroit Program believes that revitalization of city neighborhoods by and for the needs of residents is the key to Detroit’s continuing revival,” says Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of The Kresge Foundation Detroit Program. “Through Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit we’ve been able to support the imagination and know-how of neighborhood organizations in making transformative changes in the communities that they know better than anyone else.”

“The Detroit-based nonprofits we’ve had the honor of supporting are lighting up the map with positive change. They’re also lighting the way for Kresge to work across the city with a broad spectrum of organizations that engage residents in moving neighborhoods forward,” Jackson said. “What we and our grantees have learned together over the past three years will shape other Kresge neighborhood initiatives to be announced in the near future.”

“Simply put, Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit is one factor leading us to double down on the neighborhoods of Detroit,” Jackson added.

The 17 grantees announced today land in all seven Detroit City Council districts:

Adults and children gathered at Auntie Na's House
Auntie Na’s treasurer Aaron Appel, left, and Auntie Na (Sonia Renia Brown) at the house where students gather daily for activities in the Livernois-Amherst neighborhood. The group plans to convert a nearby abandoned house into a free medical clinic, a community food hub and a small residential space. Photo by Lon Horwedel

  • Allied Media Projects and The Aadizookaan, Southwest Detroit: Rehabilitate a vacant building in Southwest Detroit into a space for community-based artists rooted in indigenous practices. Goals of “The Aadizookaan Headquarters” include engagement of youth and elderly residents while building skills in entrepreneurship, media technology, music education and cultural preservation. (District 6)
  • Auntie Na’s House, Livernois-Elmhurst: Rehabilitate a house to create a free medical clinic, a community foodhub and a small residential space. Community members will be employed in the rehabilitation of “Auntie Na’s House.” The free clinic will be staffed by the Wayne State University School of Medicine. (District 7)
  • The Brightmoor Alliance and Sidewalk Detroit, Brightmoor: Pair artists with community members and organizations at Eliza Howell Park for 6-12 week residencies to design and implement participatory performances, workshops, classes and park improvements. This grant will support transformation of portions of the park’s largely untouched 200 acres with functional installation art. (District 1)
  • Central Detroit Christian Development Corp., Piety Hill: Rehabilitate a duplex as a commercial space and arts studio. Near Woodward, the project aims to creatively adapt an unused building and lot into a community asset to anchor neighborhood retail development and cultural activities. (District 5)
  • Corktown Economic Development Corp., Corktown: Install planters along the protected bike lanes on Michigan Avenue to promote safer biking and walkability. Residents will collaborate with neighborhood artists in design of the planters to reflect the area’s diversity. (District 6)

    Eastside Community Network leader and supporters at project site
    Donna Givens, center, president and CEO of the Eastside Community Network, with members of her staff and students from Alexander Hamilton School, in the vacant lot they plan to turn into a rain garden. Photo by Lon Horwedel
  • Eastside Community Network, Chandler Park neighborhood: Install a rain garden learning lab on vacant land across from Hamilton Academy, the neighborhood’s only public school. The lab will include rain gardens, other green infrastructure and an outdoor classroom for school-age children and for adults seeking master rain garden certification. (District 4)
  • EcoWorks, Cody Rouge: Creation of “Hope Park,” designed using environmental principles as a community space on a vacant lot across from Cody High School. This effort is led by led by students at Detroit Institute of Technology College Prep High School, one of three high schools sharing space at Cody High School. Hope Park is to serve as an outdoor classroom for the high school and nearby middle schools. (District 7)
  • Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., Grandmont Rosedale: Create a new community hub along the neighborhood commercial strip on Grand River Avenue. “The Annex” will join a block of recently opened, locally owned, independent retail stores. The flexible space will offer food, art, music and retail on a rotating basis to draw residents and tourists, and enliven the street. (District 1)
  • Heritage Works, North Corktown: Transform and link green spaces, parks and vacant land throughout North Corktown using Detroit Future City designs for vacant lots. The resident-led process will embrace values of equity and sustainability to create “sense of place” guidelines for the neighborhood.   (District 6)
  • LifeBUILDERS, Regent Park neighborhood, eastside: Seal abandoned buildings open to trespass, maintain vacant properties and beautify empty lots. This community stabilization, preservation and maintenance effort is intended to preserve dozens of properties as part of a neighborhood rehabilitation plan. (District 3)
  • Oakland Avenue Artist Coalition, North End: Create a multipurpose art and performance pavilion and make other enhancements to MOORE Community Park to celebrate the North End’s cultural history and resident artists. The effort also includes green infrastructure elements to increase the park’s sustainability. (District 5)
  • Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, Osborn: Begin a tree and shrub nursey on eight adjacent vacant parcels and create a sunflower labyrinth in Calimera Park as an environmental education tool for neighborhood schools. (District 3)
  • Power House Productions, Banglatown: Enhance Ride It Sculpture Park for greater accessibility and install equipment for multi-seasonal and multi-generational use. One goal is to increase cultural exchanges in this diverse neighborhood on the Detroit-Hamtramck north border. (District 3)
  • Southwest Detroit Business Association, Southwest Detroit: Renovate the second floors of four commercial buildings on West Vernor Avenue to create 10 housing units. More than 80 commercial buildings in the area have vacant second floors; this pilot project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of such conversions for a safer, more active business corridor that will keep more young adults in the neighborhood. (District 6).

    Group standing in alley they plan to revitalize as community asset.
    Christina Heximar, associate director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, left, and other supporters seeking to turn abandoned alleys like this into an asset that benefits the Fitzgerald neighborhood. Photo by Lon Horwedel
  • U SNAP BAC, Morningside: Begin transformation of a largely vacant, half-mile stretch of Barham Street into an innovative public greenway and “farmway.” The blighted area that includes 68 publicly owned vacant parcels currently attracts dumping; U SNAP BAC envisions closing the area to vehicle traffic and opening it to small-scale agricultural enterprises that provide access to fresh food. (District 4)
  • University of Detroit Mercy, Fitzgerald: Revitalization of several alleys between University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College, an area near McNichols that is often referred to as College Core. Led by the UDM’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center, the project’s goals include ensuring a sense of community ownership and use of the space. (District 2)
  • Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp., Woodbridge: Enact a plan to calm traffic and improve walking and biking connections within Woodbridge and to the broader Midtown community, including the Woodward Corridor and the QLine. The Walk Woodbridge plan includes physical improvements as well as programming, education and advocacy. (District 6)

“Cumulatively, we see these grants adding to the momentum of change in city neighborhoods,” says Jackson. “Change in neighborhoods is taking hold and spreading thanks to groups like those we are recognizing with grants today.

“Our grantees are utilizing what’s been abandoned and left vacant; they are reclaiming city blocks that otherwise would fall prey to dumpers and scrappers; they are creating green infrastructure and new community spaces; and they are developing human capital and community, particularly among young people,” says Jackson.

Kresge Detroit Program officer Bryan Hogle emphasizes that beyond the impact in their neighborhoods, the nonprofits funded by Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit “are supporting one another by sharing lessons learned, resources and other information at cohort events.”

Although this marks the third and final round of Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit, Jackson says the Detroit Program will use what has been learned through this pilot initiative to guide the development of future efforts to support the work of Detroit-based nonprofits in driving neighborhood-level transformation.

Sites of all Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit grants; there have been 37 implmentation grants and 19 planning grants.

Including 17 announced today, there have been 37 Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit implement grants; earlier rounds of the initiative included 19 planning grants.

About Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit

Among the projects completed from the first two rounds of the initiative are the creation of a half-acre market garden and education center at the Penrose Village housing development in Chaldean Town, improvements to the Judge Stein Playfield in Cody-Rouge, the creation of pocket parks with fitness equipment in the Middle Woodward Corridor, renovation of a new home for the Downtown Detroit Boxing Gym Youth Program on the lower eastside and transformation of a vacant lot and commercial building into community gathering spaces in Southwest Detroit.

In addition to implementation grants, Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit has funded 19 planning grants of up to $25,000 to help organizations map out projects, several which produced successful implementation applications. The final grant-round announced today consists entirely of implementation projects, bringing total implementation grants to 37 over the life of the initiative.