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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

Real Change, Real Talk” Neighborhood Forums 

This Real Change, Real Talk” series – sponsored by Building the Engine in partnership with CDAD, MNA, LTU and The Hub – was launched with the intention of creating space throughout all the neighborhoods for authentic discussions on Detroit neighborhoods. We held nine talks bringing together diverse groups of individuals and organizations to discuss pressing community development topics from gentrification to establishing a neighborhood voice and more.

Real Change, Real Talk” Neighborhood Forum #1: Who Decides the Future of Each Detroit Neighborhood?”
When: June 7, 2017
Where: Java House, District One

67 individuals from over 60 different organizations gathered at Java House in District One on June 7, to meet-eat-greet and discuss this important question. The words were real, sometimes painful to hear. But always, the people in the room gravitated toward hopefulness, toward the typical Detroit resilience.

Maybe the best indicator of the intensity of the discussion on June 7, was the quiet in the room as people were speaking.  Few left early and many stayed when the conversation ended.

The room was full and the buzz was electric, with 20-plus community development practitioners, several neighborhood organization leaders, 5 foundation executives, 3 City of Detroit District Managers, college students, 3 big-business corporations, several new grass roots organizations, and nearly 20 citywide civic and support organizations. 

Maybe the best indicator of the intensity of the discussion on June 7, was the quiet in the room as people were speaking.  Few left early and many stayed when the conversation ended.

Moderated by Donna Murray Brown of Michigan Nonprofit Association, one of BECDD’s Core Partners, the discussion seemed to generate some key themes:

  • Young People and Education: We have to engage our youth in what’s happening in neighborhoods – we have to set them up for success through the right kinds of schools – using project-based learning and teaching them critical thinking not just rote memorization.  We have to educate them so that they will run for office to lead our city.
  • Worth: Are legacy residents ideas viewed as worthy?  Detroit is not a blank slate” to experiment with – how do existing residents and young people feel about what’s going on?Why are newer ideas from newer Detroit residents being funded and not others?  Are city government and investors really valuing all the ideas and concerns and feedback?
  • Access: Who is getting invited to the table?  Why is it easier for a developer downtown to get help from the city, but small organizations and small businesses and residents have to work so much harder to get information?  We need a central clearinghouse of information on what is happening in the city. We need to take enough time to give out information so that people can study it and understand it.
  • Authentic Collaboration: The Mayor and City Government have to really collaborate with residents.  Who decided on what neighborhoods to designate? Who is making those plans?
  •  It’s Us: There is no magic bullet – we are the bullet.  We have to claim our power. We have to start social enterprises to fund our own initiatives. Nobody is coming to save us – we have to save ourselves.  You have to have people, you have to have a plan, and you have to take action.”
  • Residents Must Benefit: In the end, those who live here must decide and must derive the most benefit.  Developments must benefit those who live here. Are residents’ interest really being met?  Did we pass the right Community Benefits Ordinance?

Real Change, Real Talk” Neighborhood Forum #2: How Can Neighborhoods Benefit from the New Developments in Midtown and Downtown?”
When: July 27, 2017
Where: Bakers Keyboard Lounge, District Two

Fifty leaders – ranging from corporate to grass roots residents, foundations to community development professionals, academics to bankers – converged on Baker’s Keyboard Lounge on Thursday, July 27. In a wide-ranging conversation co-moderated by Donna Murray Brown of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and Sarida Scott of Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD), the group debated whether neighborhoods can benefit from downtown and Midtown investment.

Regarding the question of the night, Scott asked Is it even possible?”  While the general consensus in the room was that it is possible for neighborhoods to leverage downtown development, at least, one participant made the clear point:  Neighborhoods will ultimately benefit when government and the private sector directly invest in them. But the closing comment was equally clear: Neighborhoods are not going to benefit from downtown and Midtown investment unless we first, create mechanisms for this to happen; and second, not until downtown and the neighborhoods unite on behalf of the entire city.

While the general consensus in the room was that it is possible for neighborhoods to leverage downtown development, at least, one participant made the clear point:  Neighborhoods will ultimately benefit when government and the private sector directly invest in them.

Several leaders discussed very specific ideas and programs for how to create the mechanisms:

  • Chris Uhl from Rock Ventures discussed their research into Social Impact Bonds,” where private sector investment in these bonds – to be invested in doing good things in neighborhoods – are repaid by the savings generated from less government spending on social problems.  Could these be used to generate investment in high quality education and preparing people for work?
  • Donna Givens of Eastside Community Network proposed an entertainment tax – where a 3 percent surcharge is added to the ticket prices at downtown and Midtown venues – and proceeds create a fund to benefit neighborhood development.
  • Tom Burns of Urban Ventures, a Philadelphia-based firm, discussed two existing corporate tax credit programs in Philadelphia and Massachusetts – where corporations are incentivized to donate to community development corporations in Philadelphia and Boston. In Boston this program is now generating about $23 million a year for neighborhoods.
  • Maggie DeSantis of Building the Engine mentioned the Neighborhood Investment Fund (NIF) that was recently created at the Detroit City Council table, where portions of the city income tax from the Detroit Pistons players, are used to support housing and blight reduction in neighborhoods.

Some of the participants opted to focus on what Detroit neighborhoods need – and, as always, the discussion came back to eliminating adult illiteracy in Detroit, which some participants believe is as high as 50 percent. Other concerns were fixing our schools and lowering Detroit unemployment, which one participant pegged at 30 to 40 percent. A few other priorities also came to light:

  • We need to find a way to help people buy houses – not just counseling, but money to make the purchase.
  • We have to have a transportation system that works, to get people to work.
  • We are losing our small businesses because of the sudden increase in sewage and drainage fees from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD).

Responding to the problem of sewage and drainage fees, two of the foundations in the room offered information about resources that are available to support and incentivize green infrastructure” and permeable parking lot” solutions to help small businesses. Resources included the Detroit Training Center and the DWSD website’s link to Drainage Solutions.”

Real Change, Real Talk” Neighborhood Forum #3: “????”
When: September 28, 2017
Where: Dakota Inn, District Three

Real Change, Real Talk” Neighborhood Forum #4: We Have a Voice and We Need to Use It!”
When: November 14, 2017
Where: Cadieux Cafe, District?

35 young people ranging in age from 5 to 21 years old, from Detroit neighborhoods to the north, south, east and west, converged on the Cadieux Café on November 14 as part of BECDD’s Real Change, Real Talk” series. They joined 21 adult leaders from philanthropy, community development organizations, corporations, academia and government to discuss these questions: What Does A Youth-Centered Neighborhood Look Like? What Does It Feel Like? How are the Adults (Police, Teachers and Principals) Acting?”

By the time the night was over, there were few dry grown up” eyes in the house. The young peoples’ answers were frank, brutal, inspirational, scary and insightful.

The discussion was different from the others in two ways. First, at each of the other three discussions, at least one adult spoke out for youth and expressed need for youth voice and participation in community efforts. The November event gave youth the floor so that they could speak for themselves. The adults in the room stayed quiet until the end of the discussion so they could listen and learn. By the time the night was over, there were few dry grown up” eyes in the house. The young peoples’ answers were frank, brutal, inspirational, scary and insightful.

Second, the discussion started when everyone in the room got a chance to describe their neighborhood in one word – then hold up their one-word” sign so others could see. How is it possible that Neglected” and Empowering” could be the most-used words? Because for these young people, both things are true, two opposite conditions happening at the same time, in the same places. These young people are true Detroiters – accustomed to horrific conditions, yet determined to make a change.

The details of the discussion are on record at the BECDD offices and anyone who is interested can take a look. In the meantime, here is a summary of the recurring themes in response to Co-Moderators’ Orlando Bailey and Donna Murray Brown’s question….What Does a Youth Centered Neighborhood Look Like? What Does It Feel Like?:

  • It would have more helping hands”
  • Adults would stop smoking and drinking and killing people”
  • There would be community groups in every neighborhood and the adults would be stepping aside and letting young people step up because we have ideas to”
  • There would be trees and flowers everywhere, and trash containers on the sidewalk”
  • There would be art so people can express themselves”
  • There would be bike lanes on every street”
  • There would be a lot of parks and recreation centers and more libraries”
  • It would be well-lit and there would be no more abandoned houses”
  • It would feel safe”
  • It would have places where you could go after school and get help with your homework”
  • The adults would be like your grandfather – not mean and always looking out for you”
  • The police would respect us”

Orlando Bailey asked the young people what does community development mean to you”? Contrary to what we hear from many adult Detroit leaders — that community development is about new houses and shopping centers and investors coming to the neighborhood — these young people got to the heart of the matter:

  • It would be a place where you could work your way to the top”
  • It would be a place where people would make decisions together”
  • It means showing people that they matter”
  • Community Development is Hope”

The discussion wound down with the young people asking the adults in the room some questions. What’s your plan for making Detroit better” asked a young woman from the Northend StoryTellers. The room quieted down as the adults in the room looked at each other. Finally Maria Salinas of Congress of Communities spoke up: We are committed to making spaces for youth to have a voice and for residents to have the power to bring back their neighborhoods” she firmly stated.