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New cradle-to-career educational partnership to serve more than 1,000 Detroit children on Marygrove campus


Organizations gathered at the Marygrove College campus today to announce a new cradle-to-career educational partnership including a state-of-the-art early childhood education center, a new K-12 school and the introduction of an innovative teacher education training modeled after hospital residency programs.

The P-20 Partnership – one of the first in the nation – is backed with a $50 million commitment from The Kresge Foundation, marking the largest philanthropic investment in history into a Detroit neighborhood. The investment places education at the center of community revitalization efforts in the Livernois-McNichols district in northwest Detroit.

In addition to construction of a new early childhood education center, the Kresge commitment will renovate the former Bates Academy (originally Immaculata High School) on the Marygrove campus to house the K-12 school and will renovate space within the college’s Liberal Arts Building for student and faculty use.

This landmark cradle-to-career educational campus – which will offer pre-K through graduate school studies with wrap-around services and community programs – is being jointly developed through a partnership including Kresge, the University of Michigan School of Education (U-M SOE), Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), the Marygrove Conservancy, Marygrove College, Starfish Family Services, IFF and the Detroit Collaborative Design Center of the University of Detroit Mercy.

At full capacity, the new state-of-the-art early childhood education center (operated by Starfish) and the K-12 school (operated by DPSCD) are projected to serve more than 1,000 Detroit children and their families, primarily focused on the surrounding neighborhoods in the Livernois-McNichols district.

The campus will also offer degree and professional certifications for teacher education students of the U-M SOE and graduate students of Marygrove College, respectively. A new teacher “residency program,” offered by U-M SOE will place undergraduate and graduate student teachers at the DPSCD school. When they complete their degrees, they will work at the school as supervised resident teachers in an innovative program modeled after the way doctors are trained.

The first phase of the campus will include a ninth-grade pilot program to open in 2019, followed by the opening of the early childhood education center and kindergarten in fall 2020. Successive grades will be added each year, and by 2029, all grades will be offered, alongside undergraduate and graduate studies and professional development courses and certifications.

“Community development isn’t just happening in downtown and Midtown, and it isn’t just about bricks and mortar,” said Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson. “This is community development that invests in people, in the social fabric that makes neighborhoods unique. That’s what the future of this campus represents.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan joined leaders from each of the partnering organizations for the public announcement, where they outlined their collaborative vision for the campus. The group shared how they will engage the community to bring the vision to life, as well as what this investment means for the surrounding Livernois-McNichols district and the city of Detroit’s continued revitalization.

The P-20 campus announcement comes at a significant time for the northwest Detroit community, following major municipal and philanthropic commitments to the area in recent years. It also follows the announcement last year by the 90-year-old Marygrove College that it would cease its undergraduate offerings due to burgeoning debt and falling enrollment.

Leading up to and through that decision, The Kresge Foundation, a long-time supporter of Marygrove College, invested $16 million to help stabilize it, restructure debt, finance academic and campus operations, cushion faculty, staff and student transitions and support the college’s shift to graduate-level education. Kresge then partnered with the college’s founders and sponsors – the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) – to create the Marygrove Conservancy to steward the campus and its mission. The conservancy immediately began to explore partnerships that could preserve the campus and its historic role as an educational anchor in the city.

“Not long ago, we were faced with the prospect of this incredible campus going dark, which would have been a terrible setback to the revitalization that is taking place in this area of our city,” said Mayor Duggan. “Instead, today we are celebrating a new beginning and a bright future at Marygrove, thanks to The Kresge Foundation, DPSCD, the University of Michigan and all the partners in this effort.  We owe them all a great deal of appreciation for recognizing the importance this campus has to our city and to the community.”

Duggan praised the P-20 partnership as an example of how the public and private sectors are coming together to provide outstanding educational options for Detroit families.

“A high-quality educational system – beginning with early childhood education – is essential to keeping the families in the city here and for attracting new families.”

The P-20 campus at Marygrove College is a new approach to economic development centered on educating children and will serve as a model for urban communities around the country.

Following Marygrove College’s restructuring, the foundation supported the leadership of Marygrove College; the school’s founders and sponsors, the IHM Sisters; and the newly formed Marygrove Conservancy on the possibility of a consortium of educational institutions coming together to create a P-20 campus model. Similar campuses exist around the country – the Penn Alexander School in Pennsylvania, for example – but none involve early childhood services through graduate level education housed on one campus.

Rapson said that the foundation’s $50 million investment in the campus and its work to help engage serious partners in the P-20 concept is on par with lead funding commitments made previously by the foundation to the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, the revitalization of Midtown, in the creation of M-1 RAIL, and in the “Grand Bargain,” which helped bring Detroit out of municipal bankruptcy in 2014.

“Kresge is extremely proud to announce a partnership that puts education at the center of all other revitalization work being done in this community,” said Rapson. “We’re pleased to collaborate with all of our community partners who have come together to create a new model of neighborhood revitalization centered around investment in education right here in the heart of northwest Detroit.”

“We believe this community is among the most promising in the city today. With this new P-20 concept, it will become one of the most promising in the country,” Rapson said. “This campus represents a diverse group of stakeholders, neighbors, faith-based groups, and educators who all believe in the future of this neighborhood.”

Echoing the importance of providing a great start for the city’s youngest learners, the P-20 partners announced they will break ground on an early childhood education center on the Marygrove campus in 2019 and open the center the following year.

Still in the predevelopment phase and seeking community input, Starfish, DPSCD and the U-M SOE and Marygrove College will codesign the program’s curriculum. The partners outlined their vision for a facility designed to provide full-day, full-year early childhood education services to children ages birth through 5, catered to the whole child and family.

Starfish has a rich history in the city, serving thousands of metro Detroit children for 55 years.

“It’s essential to support children from birth through higher education,” said Starfish Family Services CEO Ann Kalass. “The P-20 campus will be an opportunity to show how Detroit is putting young children and families first. Having the opportunity to integrate early childhood learning into a long-term higher education and career path with the DPS Community District and the University of Michigan’s School of Education is remarkable. We’re excited to partner with all of these world-class institutions to create a model that guarantees the best possible educational outcomes for Detroit’s children.”

Led by the Detroit Collaborative Design Center with the support of IFF, existing early childhood education providers in the vicinity are being engaged to collectively develop a set of whole-child and whole-family support principles to envision the early childhood center as a resource for families and other early childhood centers throughout the surrounding area.

Following the phase-one ninth grade class initiation in 2019, DPSCD plans to open a kindergarten and 10th grade class in 2020, followed by the addition of another primary and secondary class annually. By 2029, all primary and high school grade classrooms will be staffed and filled; neighborhood families will have priority enrollment.

DPSCD and U-M SOE are jointly developing the K-8 and 9-12 curriculum for the schools that DPSCD will operate. Kresge will fund renovations and updates of the district’s former Bates Academy school building, on the southeast corner of the campus, to house the majority of the 1,000 primary and secondary students.

“The cradle to college model demonstrates that DPSCD can simultaneously rebuild the district and introduce innovation,” said Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti, superintendent. “The magnitude of this partnership is priceless in that it expands the city’s portfolio of high-demand, unique traditional public school options and develops a much-needed teacher pipeline with one of the top universities in the country.”

Vitti added the teacher-training component has the potential to attract college students to the teaching profession, retain teachers who otherwise leave the profession in large numbers and improve enrollment.

“The School Board and I have been laser-focused on restoring the credibility of traditional public school education so Detroit residents can send their children to the school in their neighborhood,” he said. “To achieve this, we need to establish a district that retains its best teachers and develops the next generation of dedicated teachers while supporting them in the best facilities, so each child receives a high-quality education. Detroit cannot restore its potential without a high-functioning traditional education system. Investments and partnerships such as these signal that DPSCD is on the rise and will, once again, be the preferred educational choice of its residents.”

The P-20 model has the potential to help the entire DPSCD system as it aligns with the district’s core goals of improving enrollment; improving student achievement, attendance, test scores, graduation rates and college-completion; and teacher development, retention and attraction.

“This school will not be isolated from the rest of the DPSCD system,” Vitti added. “The innovations developed here will be shared across the system for the betterment of the entire district.”

University of Michigan President Dr. Mark Schlissel and U-M SOE Dean Dr. Elizabeth Moje outlined their vision for a teacher training school on the Marygrove campus that will be modeled after medical teaching residencies.

According to Moje, after completing teaching education studies, new teachers will remain alongside veteran educators in primary and secondary classrooms for three additional years to continue their training while helping newer student teachers learn the profession.

“For too long, universities have been largely separated from the pre-K to 12 settings for which they are educating new professionals,” Moje said. “This is an opportunity for the School of Education to not only provide impactful teacher training, but to also create programs that teach children using evidence-based instructional practices carried out by exceptional leaders. We’re excited to develop teachers who are prepared to serve their students in any and every learning environment, and to create a model for preparation that honors the complex work of teaching and the need for strong communities of practice.”

The innovative approach through the P-20 model will allow U-M, and other higher education institutions across the country that may replicate this concept, to improve its own practice while contributing to primary and secondary educational settings

Other U-M schools and colleges will join the collaboration as the school and wrap-around services develop. Early partners include: College of Engineering; Stephen M. Ross School of Business; A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; School of Social Work; School of Nursing; and School of Dentistry.

“The University of Michigan was founded in Detroit in 1817, and we share a wonderful history and an equally significant future,” Schlissel said. “This new partnership is founded in our belief that a brighter future will emerge through the creation of different kinds of educational opportunities, and new knowledge, in ways that we could not do alone. It further builds on our School of Education’s longstanding partnerships in conducting research and working in concert with educators in Detroit.”

The former Liberal Arts building on the Marygrove campus
The former Liberal Arts building on the Marygrove campus. Space in the building will be renovated for student and faculty use.

Dr. Elizabeth Burns, president of Marygrove College – a college alumna who also attended kindergarten at Marygrove – shared her deep satisfaction that the college’s legacy as a teacher and social justice training center, combined with deep ties to the surrounding community, will continue.

“This innovative college has been dedicated to education for more than 90 years and will remain a site for education in the city of Detroit,” she said. “One of the college’s pillars is a commitment to remain an anchor institution in this Detroit neighborhood and an institutional leader in the city of Detroit. The P-20 model ensures we continue that mission. We’re excited for the future of this campus and the impact this model will have on the city of Detroit’s rebirth.”

Sister Jane Herb, IHM president and Marygrove Conservancy chair, also thanked each partner for their investment in Marygrove College, the Livernois-McNichols district and the children and families of northwest Detroit.

“Every program and partner on this campus has a single goal: educating children. We are all responsible and accountable for that result,” Herb said. “We all know Detroit is the place for innovation in education. As the city reinvests itself, we need to reinvent the way the city brings opportunities to its youngest residents.”

“This initiative is anchored in community development, but not by investing in just bricks and mortar, but investing in children,” she added. “We’re proud to be home to this national model for investing in children and teachers as a way to transform a neighborhood – right on the campus of Marygrove College.”

A community meeting will be held on October 15, 2018, 6:30-8:30 p.m., in the Marygrove College Main Dining Hall to gain input from local residents as the P-20 campus model is being developed. For more details, call 313-993-1037. Community members will have additional opportunities to engage in the planning process during existing block club meetings, existing community council and association meetings, and stakeholder group meetings as well as two additional community-wide meetings, dates to be announced.