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Kresge provides $2.2 million to promote health, arts enrichment and parent engagement at Detroit early education centers


The second annual Day of the Young Child in April brought Detroiters together to enjoy time with their children and learn about the Hope Starts Here Framework and how to be a part of it. Photo by Noah Morrison

Nine nonprofit organizations serving Detroit early education centers will receive a total of roughly $2.2 million from The Kresge Foundation to provide children and families with arts and creative enrichment, behavioral and mental health services, parent education and engagement, and programs promoting healthy living and eating.

The organizations all responded to the foundation’s call for applications to its Detroit Early Childhood Education Support (Detroit ECE Support) initiative. The Detroit ECE Support initiative is part of the foundation’s $25 million commitment to Hope Starts Here, a community framework launched a year ago to improve early childhood outcomes in Detroit developed with community support in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“These organizations have many, many years of collective experience making improvements to the lives and lifetime possibilities for thousands of Detroit children from birth to five years of age,” says Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program. “We are excited to provide them with resources to reach more children than ever before with these ‘wrap-around’ services.

“This is one step of many that we as a community are taking to redefine Detroit as a place where children come first – and where they enter kindergarten ready to learn, developmentally, emotionally, intellectually and otherwise,” Jackson says.

The grants of up to $300,000 begin in January and range from one-year planning grants to three-year operating grants to the organizations, all of which work with formal, licensed early childhood centers. The organizations all take a “whole child” approach to support early childhood centers to serve young children based on the promotion of four tenets: healthy living, kindergarten readiness, creative engagement, and support for parents and other caregivers.

“Throughout the Hope Starts Here process, we are working with individual organizations, but we remain mindful of the interrelations of all the groups and institutions that contribute to the well-being of our youngest children, our next generation,” says Jackson. “The ECE Support initiative presents a unique opportunity for these organizations to learn from one another’s expertise in serving young children and their families. We will actively support their work together as a cohort.”

The nine organizations are:

  • ACCESS to develop a model to support early childhood centers to more effectively access and coordinate with human services resources.
  • Children’s Center of Wayne County, Inc., to develop the capacity of center staff to deliver behavioral health interventions to children at their centers. This includes direct service and staff training.
  • Detroit Educational TV, to expand enrichment programming, creative learning workshops and other efforts aimed at children, parents, and early childhood education providers.
  • Detroit Hispanic Development Corp. for workshops on leadership and child development, particularly professional development to help early childhood personnel to work effectively with Hispanic students.
  • Keep Growing Detroit to develop garden-based activities and programming at early childhood centers and train early childhood staff to deliver programming related to access to fresh, local produce and healthy eating.
  • Learn Early to conduct educator workshops and training to integrate arts and creative learning into literacy and STEM learning, and to engage parents in these efforts.
  • Living Arts Detroit to expand residencies in early childhood centers and expand educator and parent workshops on art-based learning in every day teaching and at home.
  • Mothering Justice for efforts developing women leaders who have young children in advocating for affordable, high-quality child care. This includes building a public coalition of advocates for a more affordable childcare system in the city of Detroit.
  • National Kidney Foundation to work with parents and staff to integrate nutrition education and healthy living principles in young children’s education and the daily practices in their homes.

The grants are in addition to $1.6 million in other grants from The Kresge Foundation in support of Hope Starts Here during its first year. Those grants include support for a network of community advocates and champions to support the Hope Starts Here priorities, a small grant program for community-led programs serving young children and families, designing a professional development fellowship for early childhood professionals, and general operating support for the Detroit Bureau of Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering effort to improve the nation’s schools for all children.