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Progress Dashboard

Where have we been?

Where have we been?

Where are we now?

Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3

Phase 1 (2016)

We recruited stakeholders to analyze the problem, created a beginning set of system elements, and began considering a framework for a Detroit community development system.

Phase 2 (2017-2018)

We formed an Advisory Council, conducted extensive research resulting in a specific set of challenges and created Task Forces to respond to those challenges and develop test-projects for most of the elements.

Phase 3 (2019-2020)

Stakeholders will champion elements of the system, working closely with CDOs and GROs, by “test-piloting” project ideas:

  • Coordination of Capacity Building Services
  • Community Development Career Navigation Model
  • Neighborhood Vitality Success Framework
  • Neighborhood Voice and Advocacy Framework
  • At least two city-CDO funded partnerships

Simultaneously we will:

  • Activate the System Capitalization element
  • Establish a governance/oversight structure
  • Develop a process to resolve CDO coverage for all neighborhoods
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Congress of Communities of Southwest Detroit Neighborhoods (COC)


When was it organized?

2011

Who is completing this survey? Name and role with organization:

Executive Director, Maria Salinas

Choose one category that best fits your organization:

Community Development Organization (not sponsored by a church or agency or company)

Does your organization have paid staff?

  • 5 paid staff

What is the annual budget of your organization?

$500,000

Describe the streets or locations that define your organization’s overall focus area (north, south, east and/or west):

  • Southwest Detroit: Jefferson/Waterfront to Michigan Ave to Wyoming to I96

Describe in detail the work your organization does, within the role categories below, along with the specific geographic area in which the work is done. Refer to the definitions below of the community development roles we are inquiring about. Include any partner organizations you work with, and how the work is funded or otherwise resourced. Use extra pages if necessary. If your organization doesn’t do work in one or more of the role categories, just skip that portion of the survey.

Convening/Facilitating/Collaborations: General Description

  • COC is considered to do leadership development for Southwest Detroit residents and to be a facilitator, mediator, conductor for trusted conversations as well as a capacity builder.
  • We held multiple conversations in regards to gentrification, immigration, workforce development, 0–5 early learning and leadership development (parent leadership through the school system for both K‐12 and 0–5).

Funding is a big contributor of a lot of agencies having mistrust of each other. As we were facilitating and convening a lot, those people that came to the table with their own agendas made it hard to create a safe transparent and inclusive place and there was a lot of mistrust. This is getting better but needs more time to be worked out.

  • We do youth development through the  COC Youth Council, which is in its seventh year. It’s the only (Latino only) Latino youth council in the area. It is addressing education to build a Latino agenda for education in Detroit. It now has an alumni component.
  • We convene our board of directors made up of youth, residents and stakeholders of SW Detroit. It’s a unique model that has those three components.
  • Our organization is resident‐driven and only residents can be the Chair or President of the board. We have a total of 28 board seats.
  • We work with the Border Patrol, ICE, PDP, DPS, Immigration and the Federal Rail Association. Southwest Detroit is unlike any border community.
  • COC has a safety hub in SW Detroit. It was completely donated and is volunteer ran by West Vernor Civilian Patrol Group, which has 45 members. We’ve taken the concept of the neighborhood police centers that no longer exist. We utilized the relationship that we have with law enforcement, SW Solutions and residents.  It took three years of gathering and deciphering what we needed before the safety hub was opened in 2017.
  • We have partnerships with U of M and Wayne State and have had many interns. The interns help with high end academic work. We give them community organizing experience and other on the ground experiences. Our staff embodies youthfulness and is very diverse. I like millenials for their innovating ideas.  We are multicultural and multilingual.

Convening/Facilitating/Collaborations: Partner Organizations

  • SER Metro
  • DHDC
  • LaSed
  • UNI
  • Matrix Theater
  • Mercy College
  • Patton Park Recreational Center
  • Roberto Clemente Recreational Center
  • All DPS schools
  • All charter schools
  • Cristo Rey (only catholic school)
  • Matrix Center for Early Learning
  • SW Solutions Early Learning
  • DPS Early Learning
  • Matrix Early Learning
  • Starfish Early Learning
  • The city
  • The mayor (for workforce development)
  • SWBA
  • People’s Community Center in Del Rey
  • Law enforcement
  • Border Patrol
  • ICE
  • Federal Rail Association
  • Immigration
  • U of M School of Social Work
  • U of M School of Public Health

Convening/Facilitating/Collaborations: Funders

  • SWBA

Convening/Facilitating/Collaborations: Important Outcomes or Lessons

Outcomes:

  • We have been able to convene partners for actions and outcomes.
  • Law enforcement is a partner and plays a big role in what we do.
  • We build bridges through conversations to align residents to multiple law enforcement infrastructures in SW Detroit.
  • COC, in the last five years, has been able to bridge residents and law enforcement to get them to understand residents and vice versa. We take a humanistic approach and we’re now working hand in hand.
  • Violence is down. Safety is up.
  • We have more kids interested in understanding law enforcement and being interested in the field.  COC hosted a youth summit with Barbara Mcquade (US Attorney General) where all law enforcement department heads came along to meet with 100 youth.  It was powerful.
  • We try to host meetings with all law enforcement to reassure our population of residents that they’re not going to use fear tactics.  This was major for the relationship between residents and law enforcement. And a major commitment from law enforcement.
  • We brokered the immigration conversation as soon as the new administration (Trump) described new policies (i.e. immigration) that caused anxiety amongst muslims and Latinos in SW. We hosted the biggest meeting with people who worked around Michigan in immigration, created a road map and disseminated emergency resources and information  3 days after the election. Now, it has grown arms. COC’s role was to disseminate one‐pagers of immigrant rights and got 2,000 pieces of literature into the vulnerable population through the school system utilizing our Taking Action por Nuestros Ninos (TANN) leaders.
  • We broker, because we don’t do service. We align with the residents needs and we’re able to address things in the community that arise that have to do with residents. We brokered many conversations addressing many topics like education resident displacement through foreclosures and gentrification as new development is happening. COC created the Lets Talk” model in 2013 when there was a mural that was tagged (Go Home Hipsters) and (Gentrification) in Corktown. First meeting was held at ST ANNE church where over 200 residents and business owners along with leaders started a facilitated conversation led by the Michigan Round Table.  Since then, we have hosted many Lets Talk” conversations with actions and outcomes.
  • We’ve been instrumental in bringing together a base of leaders from the school systems through Taking Action por Nuestros Ninos (TANN). This took seven years to build.  More recently, we’ve grown the TANN Action team (TAT) where, through process and protocol, we are holding school systems accountable using data and research processes and protocols for accountability.
  • We’re addressing the needs of residents and filling the gap that law enforcement can’t with our safety hub.
  • COC also addressed the opiate and prostitution problem by aligning systems of support like Crime Stoppers and Salvation Army with DPD.
  • The two school systems (charter and public schools) are working together better in terms of listening to parents’ voices since we have been aligning and supporting them.
  • At one point, there were gang members that wouldn’t even fathom working with law enforcement and now they are going to the police academy and are champions of safety.
  • Law enforcement officers are becoming more humanistic and understand the barriers for trust by residents and why there are a lot of residents that have fear of law enforcement.

Lessons:

  • More recently, the funders have a big role in how people drive their conversations and what people will lean towards. People sway their work where the funding is coming from. This has been an eye opener for me. People are grant/money driven versus purpose/vision driven.
  • Funding is a big contributor of a lot of agencies having mistrust of each other. As we were facilitating and convening a lot, those people that came to the table with their own agendas made it hard to create a safe transparent and inclusive place and there was a lot of mistrust. This is getting better but needs more time to be worked out.
  • COC created a culture and created the space early on in the bridge building work and used a lot of system thinking because, early on, it seemed that we were running up against the wall because there was a lot of mistrust.
  • I’ve learned it takes a lot of time and patience to not give up on the work for the common good.  It has been a challenge to stay grounded and focused with residents who have a lot of barriers and feel like the city doesn’t want people of color here.
  • I’ve learned that development for our staff in regards to finding self‐care for the staff and finding spaces where their trauma can be addressed is essential so that they can do work effectively — especially  in addressing trauma in the community that residents don’t know is trauma. I emphasize having a strong, healthy well‐being (staff) because that’s an important part as we’re advocating for an at risk community that don’t understand the buzz words because they’re living it. Staff need to be mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.
  • All of COC’s staff have Master’s degree, which is very important.

Resident Engagement/Empowerment: General Description

  • We have a practice of having community meetings where we always do a report out to the residents about the initiatives that we launch.  We tell the residents what’s going on in a continuous feedback loop even if there isn’t a lot to report. This doesn’t always happen with other initiatives such as GNI.
  • We used to have quarterly community meeting that people saw as a celebration. There were 300–400 people that attended; people donated to the events, which made them not costly and they’ve taken on a world of their own. It’s seen as a celebratory platform with food and music.  

The City of Detroit, for 20 years, went into chaos because they weren’t building together and there was a lot of mistrust.  This is something we’re working on and is still not perfect.

  • People in the past wanted to use our venue to promote whatever initiative, which means that it would be taking away from the residents.
  • Ten thousand voices went into creating COC.  We always ask residents how COC is aligning with what the residents are thinking.
  • During any given two‐three hour event that we host, we always dedicate one hour to feedback.
  • During an event in February, we set out 5,000 pieces of literature.  We put them on cars, and mailboxes because we believe in ground up outreach.
  • We use social media.
  • We have 3,000 members under COC.
  • We have a membership, but we only offer space.
  • Each of our meetings get bigger and bigger.
  • We had big raffles for our events and offer childcare and transportation. Transportation, childcare and translation are some of the barriers that keep residents from going to these events because not everybody’s attached to a church, school or nonprofit that understands and addresses these barriers.

Resident Engagement/Empowerment: Partner Organizations

  • Law enforcement
  • Education
  • All the restaurants
  • E and L Market
  • Honey Bee
  • La Hacienda Torteria (Lydia Gutierrez)

Resident Engagement/Empowerment: Funders

  • Donations

Most of our funding goes to salary because we’ve created an avenue for donations and it’s grown.

Resident Engagement/Empowerment: Important Outcomes or Lessons

Outcomes:

  • We used to have a quarterly community meeting that people saw as celebrations.  There were 300–400 people that attended.

Lessons:

  • I learned that we have a population of immigrants that come from Mexico that land in Detroit as a stepping stone to the suburbs. We struggled with the Mexican population. I’ve worked in the SW community for 35 years and have always struggled getting them involved. It was like pulling teeth. I learned that some of the Mexican immigrants have a different mentality and way of life after I took a small sabbatical to Mexico City to learn about government systems, etc. I had a hard time getting them involved in clean‐ups and other volunteer needs, even though other black, white and Chicano residents were involved.  I also had a similar problem with some of the Arab residents who came directly from their home country. I learned that they weren’t here to invest and to anchor, they were using Detroit as a stepping stone so I’ve taken a different approach by shifting the energy to who is doing the work to cultivate them. Not to throw away the [Mexican, Arab] population, but to find better and more effective approaches for them. I don’t want to waste my time and want to cultivate all these other cultures, but still address and uplift the values of the Mexicans and Arabs to stay in Detroit.
  • I do understand more about immigrants wanting to stay low under the radar for many reasons and am working on breaking that cycle with TANN and TAT.
  • Some nonprofits are foundation and money driven and will switch their work areas to accommodate funding. I learned to uplift that conversation because that’s why animosity and mistrust has been happening, especially in the last 5 -10 or 15 years. People were losing their funding and next thing you know a person/organization is your competitor. We are trying to address this.
  • COC does a lot in regards to trying to build a road map and we’re abrupt and vocal about people staying in their lane.  People know COC will broker conversations and advocate for people to not pit agencies one against the other. We know how to create the avenues to figure out how to manage the shifting road maps so all the agencies can stay in their lane. Mistrust is huge among organizations; we are working on that a lot lately and know that philanthropy is a huge contributor.
  • The City of Detroit, for 20 years, went into chaos because they weren’t building together and there was a lot of mistrust.  This is something we’re working on and is still not perfect.

Economic Development: General Description

  • We’ve done a couple murals.
  • The Youth Council goes through the U of M Youth Dialogue Program. They have one of the biggest murals on Vernor that’s all about the -isms.  COC is depicted and it has writing in three languages (Arabic, Spanish and English). It took 300 kids from around the metro area and two years to complete it. No one has ever tagged it.
  • I’m the advisor to five projects including Invest Detroit, SW Solutions Positive Development, LISC (merging Corktown to Mexicantown) Building the Engine and Building Sustainable Communities. In these meetings, gentrification conversations enter that are focused on classism. COC is about people development.  I’m personally at a lot of decision‐making tables based on my reputation and experience which puts me at high end tables to make decisions about economic development. I’m usually invited because I am an advocate for residents of Detroit.

There are some things that you might not like, but you have to get on board for the common good and be more open minded and be more inclusive and transparent.

.

  • We host gentrification conversations.  We’re holding an event tomorrow about educating new Detroiters” in understanding that there are parameters and cultures in Detroit already and that there are correct ways to enter the community.  We want residents to also be respectful of the new Detroiters as well. We’re highlighting that white low income people are not being talked about and don’t have a platform like immigration or Black Lives Matter — again COC is inclusive of all residents.
  • We’re not brick and mortar focused, but focused on creating an awareness so that our residents don’t continue to be pushed out.
  • In regards to workforce development, we currently have a project called Bridge to Jobs, which includes residents and the youth perspective with a racial equity lens where they identify and document the barriers that exist to employment.  They understand that there are broken systems and institutional racism. Detroiters are NOT getting these construction jobs like they should and how it is being handled needs improvement.
  • We broker to construction companies and the school system.  
  • We’re working with Western International (the main high school) to try to create the narrative and verbiage for the next two‐four year degree in labor, skill trade and technology.  This is going to take five years after the next three years. We’re creating a road map and are using Western as a pilot. At Western, five hundred kids graduate every year and 250 are slated for college. We’re trying to give the staff support to track the 250 that aren’t slated for college to figure out the narrative for skills trades, tech and labor as an alternative to college. We’re driving this as a form of racial equity.  I know personally that the barriers can be overcome and college isn’t for everyone. SW has been where immigrants ideally came to Detroit to work not to go to college. College has been rammed down people’s throats. We definitely promote traditional college but also are building a narrative. Most of our youth are first generation students with immigrant parents that identify skills trades as the alternative path to a quality of life career. We’re bringing back the motor city labor conversation through this process.
  • We’re brokering with unions, workforce development, training centers and construction companies (like Cadillac, Asphalt) that are willing to build on the narrative for the alternative to college degrees.
  • We’re streamlining young people into entry‐level construction jobs or apprenticeships. We want students to know that they can have a quality of life and job through labor fields. COC has been pivotal in building that concept and hopefully, within five years, we’re looking at it becoming a model.
  • SW Solutions is main partner for economic development. SW Solutions has brought HUD and Section 8 people into the community. COC’s space is in a SW Solutions building. In the last three‐five years, there are populations of  mentally ill people and people with substance abuse issues that are now on the streets due to the partnership with HUD; SW Solutions isn’t addressing this. They no longer can maintain the population that they brought here and the population that they brought here is not working class poor but a lot of Section 8 people on welfare. COC advocates for the working class poor. COC uplifts SW Detroit Business Association because they have a different approach to housing as well as a different approach for safety and resident engagement for SW Detroit. SW Solutions is trying to be a better partner lately and trying to control all these elements but the money is not there.  Unfortunately, the population they brought here is here and SW Solutions is like a slumlord at this point. At one point, there was money to address the population but now they’re out on the streets because of lack of funding. Kids are exposed to these people and it’s not okay. There was a huge drug (mainly opiates and heroin) and prostitution problem. COC has helped to defuse some of this recently.

Economic Development: Partner Organizations

  • U of M
  • REACH
  • U of M Public Health
  • U of M School of Social Work
  • MSU extension
  • WSU
  • Public Allies
  • Americorps
  • SW Solutions
  • SWBA

Economic Development: Funders

  • Skillman Foundation: (for the first three‐four years, we were ran under Skillman. That was the only funding we got for five years. We used to get $175,000 a year, which was used for a full staff and another part time salary. All the other staff were interns).
  • Kellogg: Funds our Parent Leadership Development and Chadsey Condon Community Organization Executive Director who is a COC employee.

Economic Development: Important Outcomes or Lessons

Outcomes:

  • The Youth Council goes through the U of M Youth Dialogue Program. They have one of the biggest murals on Vernor that’s all about the -isms.  CoC is depicted and it has writing in three languages (Arabic, Spanish and English). It took 300 kids from around the metro area and took two years. No one has ever tagged it.
  • We’re figuring out an alternative track to college to set up more of our youth for success.

Lessons:

  • It’s about the green. I have learned a lot isn’t so much about white vs black, but about the green $$.
  • It really is classism versus racism.
  • White residents in our community that live in poverty don’t have a platform.
  • Money is power and privilege has a lot to do with economic development.
  • There are some things that you might not like, but you have to get on board for the common good and be more open minded and be more inclusive and transparent.
  • Some baby boomers are blocking pathways and not allowing millennials to thrive by listening to their thought process or recognizing their ability to incorporate perceptions or opinions. Economic development should be driven by young people and that’s not happening when it comes to major decision making tables. I work with the Governor and with leaders in Oakland County and it tends to be old white men; this has been this way for years.
  • I have a lot of clout with my relationships and I’m often the only woman of color at the the table, but I don’t see POC represented at the tables. It’s still very white‐driven and it’s still driven by older males. Mostly, when I do see people of color, they’re not always advocating for working class poor and are usually privileged.
  • I just got through a three year Kellogg Fellowship where I learned to be a chameleon.  I can be down with the homeless in Clark Park or be up with the president in Washington DC. It’s important to continuously develop. I will always seek leadership development.  
  • This work is my heart and life.  This is mission work and you have to take it in stride.
  • You have to understand, at the end of the day, it’s about economics.  Money does matter at the end of the day, but it’s really about building something for yourself that you can live with ethically and be really happy with, to me it’s my lifestyle.

Resident Support: General Description

  • We connect people to resources and will make phone calls for people.
  • Through TANN, we offer parents a fellowship and the K‐12 school’s president support and resources. We aligned them with more policy education at the capital level, especially  since education has been going from public to private. We were able to utilize parents to get involved with advocacy for education. We’re going to Lansing and going to Washington. TAT is working on ordinance, policy and legislative change.
  • We brokered the immigration conversation as soon as the new administration described new policies (i.e. immigration) that caused anxiety amongst Muslims and Latinos in SW. We hosted the biggest meeting with people who worked around Michigan on immigration, created a road map and disseminated it three days after the election. Now, it has grown arms. COC’s role was to disseminate one‐pagers of immigrant rights and got 2,000 pieces of literature into vulnerable populations through the school system.

Funding has to be looked at differently. When you’re really grassroots/ground up, there is a lot of stress and people need to be able to take care of themselves and have the resources to do it. There isn’t much funding for resident development; this needs to change.

  • We work on self identity, wellness, self‐care, nutrition and people power.

Resident Support: Partner Organizations

  • Health services
  • Housing services
  • Job services
  • Education components
  • TANN
  • TAT

Resident Support: Funders

  • We fund resident support through our general operating funds.

Resident Support: Important Outcomes or Lessons

Outcomes:

Community members trust us and know where they need to go for assistance.

Lessons:

  • Funding has to be looked at differently. When you’re really grassroots/ground up, there is a lot of stress and people need to be able to take care of themselves and have the resources to do it. There isn’t much funding for resident development; this needs to change.
  • COC advocates for residents and does not do service.

Community Planning and Advocacy: General Description

Community Planning:

  • We’re working with Western International (the main high school) to try to create the narrative and verbiage for the next two‐four year degree in labor, skill trade and technology.  This is going to take five years after the next three years. We’re creating a road map and are using Western as a pilot. At Western, five hundred kids graduate every year and 250 are slated for college. We’re trying to give the staff support to track the 250 that aren’t slated for college to figure out the narrative for skills trades, tech and labor as an alternative to college. We’re driving this as a form of racial equity.  I know personally that the barriers can be overcome and college isn’t for everyone. SW has been where immigrants ideally came to Detroit to work not to go to college. College has been rammed down people’s throats. We definitely promote traditional college but also are building a narrative. Most of our youth are first generation students with immigrant parents that identify skills trades as the alternative path to a quality of life career. We’re bringing back the motor city labor conversation through this process.
  • We’re brokering with unions, workforce development, training centers and construction companies (like Cadillac, Asphalt) that are willing to build on the narrative for the alternative to college degrees.
  • We’re streamlining young people into entry‐level construction jobs or apprenticeships. We want students to know that they can have a quality of life and job through labor fields. COC has been pivotal in building that concept and hopefully within five years we’re looking at it becoming a model.
  • I’m taking seven years to build up the message of One SW Detroit.”
  • Under the Good Neighborhood Initiative, I was the first person they hired as senior liaison in the launch of the six neighborhoods in 2006. Through Skillman, I worked with Ed Egnatios. Five to six years in, they started struggling with North End and Chadsey Condon so they started disinvesting by year seven and by year 10 pulled out of those two areas.  Those two areas weren’t funded to have an Executive Director. Chadsey Condon is in SW Detroit and if Chadsey Condon didn’t survive it would impact SW. I was able to secure money and hire an Executive Director for Chadsey Condon, but they have their own infrastructure. They’re an employee of COC though.

Advocacy:

  • Through TANN, we offer parents a fellowship and the K‐12 school’s president support and resources. We aligned them with more policy education at the capital level, especially  since education has been going from public to private. We were able to utilize parents to get involved with advocacy for education. We’re going to Lansing and going to Washington.

Focus on cultivating the individuals that have the ability, the heart and the passion to be effective in the message. It’s not about quantity anymore it’s about quality and it has shifted in community organizing.

  • We’re advocates to help make decisions and so people feel like they have voice.
  • COC advocates for working class poor.

Community Planning and Advocacy: Partner Organizations

  • Board of directors
  • Residents
  • Youth
  • President (PTAs) of our early learning center 0–5 years and our K‐12 schools.

Community Planning and Advocacy: Funders

  • Skillman (for TANN)
  • Youth development and developing board and staff (for self‐care)
  • Kellogg for (early learning and workforce)

Community Planning and Advocacy: Outcomes or Lessons

Outcomes:

  • CoC got 2,000 people out during the immigration day off.
  • TAT is working with new DPS Superintendent Vitti and Chief Godbee of DPS on Safety policies that are illegal.
  • Safety HUB is active and ran by residents in SW Detroit.
  • Youth Council now has an alumni component: young adults addressing a Latino education agenda for youth of immigrant parents.  They are addressing the barriers with solutions.
  • For the last three years, Youth Council, high school graduates have received 100% scholarships to not only local U of M and MSU, but Ivy‐league colleges like Harvard, Princeton, MIT and Stanford.

Lessons: 

  • I learned to streamline residents and that not everybody wants to be involved in systems change (policy and legislation) so if it’s a small number it’s ok.
  • Addressing trauma, self identity, wellness and self‐care along with leadership development does work for resident leaders. Mind change is just as important as conditions and systems change.
  • You have to know advocacy is a system change or a policy/legislative change.  You don’t have to have 30 people if the 30 people don’t want to be doing that. Three‐five people can be strong, and just as powerful, because they’re residents that trained through their self‐esteem and their voice. I’m believe in building people power.
  • Focus on cultivating the individuals that have the ability, the heart and the passion to be effective in the message. It’s not about quantity anymore it’s about quality and it has shifted in community organizing.
  • I’m more about being small and powerful and I’m convincing staff that we need to shift towards quality over quantity.

Frequency Rank:

Convening Facilitating

5

Resident Engagement

5

Economic Development

4

Resident Support

4

Community Planning and Advocacy

4

Information current as of June 8, 2017


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