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Kresge seeks Detroit organizations of all sizes to share $1.5 million for neighborhood improvements


The Kresge Foundation is looking for Detroit-based nonprofits – from block clubs to community development corporations – to share at least $1.5 million dollars for projects that improve the quality of life in neighborhoods in 2020.

Members of Eden Gardens Block Club
Karen Knox (center) with members of Eden Gardens Block Club. Receiving a KIP:D grant in 2017 was a “hallelujah moment” in the group’s decade-long effort to improve the neighborhood. Photo by Lon Horwedel for The Kresge Foundation

The funding comes from Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit (KIP:D), which has awarded 99 grants since 2015 for a total of $10.4 million across the city for projects from repurposing of vacant lots for creative green uses to the renovation of vacant buildings as community assets to modifying streets and sidewalks for greater walkability.

Grants of up to $35,000 are available for planning and up to $150,000 for the implementation of projects that engage residents and reflect their priorities.

A category of grants introduced this year makes awards of $20,000 available for smaller organizations that want assistance to assess neighborhood needs, brainstorm possibilities and develop materials for a future KIP: D application.

“There are so many unsung heroes that have been working as block club captains, leading our community development organizations, working as volunteers in various groups and projects,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program. “We want to make sure they have the resources to not only keep doing what they’re doing but to take their work to the next level.”

“KIP:D began on the premise that Detroiters and their organizations have actionable ideas to improve the places they live, work and play,” Jackson added. “What was needed was a systematic way of inviting, evaluating and supporting those plans. Each round of proposals has taught us more about needs across the city and has revealed neighborhood-level ideas for addressing them.”

“KIP: D is one of our most important tools to make sure the city’s revitalization reaches neighborhoods,” Jackson said. The four pillars of the program are that KIP:D’s funding and technical assistance goes to:

  • Detroit-based organizations.
  • That improve neighborhood quality of life.
  • That reflect residents’ culture and history.
  • That include the vision of residents in a collaborative process.

Jackson pointed to the example of the Eden Gardens Block Club on Detroit’s east side, which received $150,000 earlier this year to rehab a vacant neighborhood house as a center for training in literacy, and life and work skills. It’s being called the Stair Steps to Change Home, said block club president Karen Knox. The KIP:D grant follows a smaller grant through MCR for the kind of brainstorming and needs assessment that’s now available through applying to KIP: D.

“This was a hallelujah moment. It broke the glass ceiling so we can keep improving the community,” Knox said of the KIP:D grant. She said the block club has about 20 core members, and many more supporting its various activities. Through the KIP:D grant, an architect has worked on plans to renovate the buildings for the activities envisioned in the building identified. The block club members have cleaned the building and spruced up the yard and applied for zoning approvals to proceed with their plans. That work has already been enough to have the building pulled from the city’s demolition list. “We saved the building,” Knox said.

Before KIP: D, Jackson pointed out, there was no mechanism for reaching organizations like Eden Gardens, which was one of 163 organizations that responded to the prior KIP: D application period, and one of 25 organizations that shared in $2.4 million. That was the largest total funding for a cohort of grantees in the history of KIP: D.

Of the 25 grants announced earlier this year, nearly 20 percent, including the Eden Gardens grant, went to organizations with annual budgets of less than $100,000, Jackson added.

Applications to KIP: D are open through Dec. 6, although interested organizations must register and create an account through Kresge’s online Fluxx system by Nov. 22. Applications can only be made through Fluxx.

As part of the foundation’s effort to make KIP: D more accessible to a broader array of organizations, the application process was streamlined in 2018. The application begins with a short concept proposal – two pages in writing or a 3-5-minute video, even one shot on a cell phone – and basic organizational information.

Select applicants will be invited to submit a more detailed proposal, including financial audits and detailed budgets for final consideration. Grants will be announced in May 2020.

Kresge also has made support and assistance from Michigan Community Resources (MCR) a part of KIP:D for all grantees. MCR has as its mission to support Michigan nonprofit organizations that serve low-income individuals and communities through pro bono and low cost legal and other services, organization development and other guidance assistance. MCR convenes KIP:D grantee cohorts to share lessons, attend workshops, engage in city-wide dialogue as well as increases grantee awareness of additional funding opportunities.

As part of the application process, Michigan Community Resources is holding information sessions as well as open office hours for one-on-one assistance for any interested organization.

Information sessions will be held:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 13, 5-7 p.m. at TechTown Industry Innovation Center (461 Burroughs St.)
  • Thursday, Nov. 14, 5-7 p.m. at Marygrove College (8425 McNichols Rd.)
  • Thursday, Nov. 21, 1:30-3:30 at American Serbian Memorial Hall (19940 Van Dyke Ave.)

Help sessions during open office hours are on a first-come-first-served basis on these dates at these locations:

  • Thursday, Nov. 7, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. at St. Stephen AME Church (6000 John E Hunter St)
  • Thursday, Nov. 14, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Marygrove College (8425 McNichols Rd)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, 1-5 p.m. at Knapp Branch Library (13330 Conant St)
  • Tuesday, Dec.  3, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Redford Branch Library (21200 Grand River Ave)

Read KIP:D application guidelines and FAQs in English.

Read KIP:D application guidelines and FAQs in Arabic.

Read KIP:D application guidelines and FAQs in Bangla.

Read KIP:D application guidelines and FAQs in Spanish.

Read guide for using Kresge’s online Fluxx system to apply for KIP:D.

Go to the online Fluxx system

Learn more about KIP:D and see maps and brief descriptions of past projects here.