2015 DFC to focus on capacity building, strategic coordination, place-based initiatives
After activating 52 pilot initiatives in 2014, the Detroit Future City Implementation Office has solidified its position as the team local leaders call-on to help strategically coordinate actions and inform decisions for catalyzing the transformation of Detroit.
“It’s been an extremely productive year that gives us plenty to build upon in 2015,” said Kenneth Cockrel, Jr., Executive Director, DFC Implementation Office. “We successfully advanced projects and coordinated with millions of dollars in investment by providing resources, expertise and counsel to our partners, engaging the community around critical matters such as blight remediation, and piloting innovative initiatives to develop best practices for the future of the city.”
The DFC Implementation Office worked in partnership with 93 different agencies from federal, state and local government, civic groups, philanthropic foundations and education entities on piloting initiatives aligned with its Implementation Priorities — Employ more Detroiters, Fulfill Policy and Regulatory Reform, Renew City Systems, Stabilize Neighborhoods and Transform Vacant Land.
“The Detroit Future City Implementation Office has been a central partner in our efforts to overhaul the City’s IT systems. They were there at the beginning, supporting our White House-led Tech Team in our visit to Detroit and providing recommendations on how technology could improve service delivery and reduce costs,” said Beth Niblock, Chief Information Officer, City of Detroit. “Since I started as CIO, DFC has helped connect my office to additional opportunities for innovation. They were instrumental in recruiting and hiring my Deputy CIO for Tech Community Engagement, Garlin Gilchrist II, and they helped identify additional human capital in support of opening the city’s financial data and promoting transparency city-wide.”
Examples of DFC Implementation Office piloting initiatives include:
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI): The DFC Implementation Office provides strategic leadership to the infrastructure project which seeks to reutilize available vacant land to mitigate impact on the Great Lakes, reduce fixed infrastructure costs, and define Detroit as a leader in stormwater management. DFC works with Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) to administer the Erb and Kresge Foundation portion of the grant and teamed with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), DEGC, and others to win the EPA grant.
- White House OSTP “Detroit 2.0” Human Capital Support: The DFC Implementation Office developed a 21-point set of recommendations, a five-member national chief information officer peer group (from which Detroit’s current Chief Information Officer, Beth Niblock, was selected), and a work session that included a variety of stakeholders from Detroit’s digital community. The DFC Implementation Office also garnered funding from the Knight Foundation and Rock Ventures to fund additional staff and develop a set of tools that could help identify and institute important systems changes.
- Green Corridor Initiative: The DFC Implementation Office, in partnership with Greening of Detroit, kicked-off the Green Corridor Initiative, in support of the DFC Strategic Framework’s recommendations to improve Detroit’s green infrastructure. In October, more than 500 volunteers planted nearly 400 trees along the Southfield freeway, near Joy Road, and in the surrounding neighborhoods. This work fulfills important aspects of the DFC Implementation Office’s broader “carbon-buffering” program.
- Vacant Land Transformation Guide: The DFC Implementation Office, with support from the Erb Family Foundation, is developing a user-friendly Vacant Land Transformation Guide that will give residents, community groups and contractors an important tool to stabilize their neighborhoods using online resource and workshops and to compliment the print publication.
- CPAD ‘New Urban Places’: Community+public arts: DETROIT (CPAD), Greening of Detroit, the DFC Implementation Office, artists and community residents begun to are collaborating to transform vacant and underutilized spaces in four Detroit neighborhoods into spaces where the arts and green infrastructure combine to express unique community visions. The DFC Implementation Office supports overall project planning, links CPAD to broader revitalization initiatives, provides technical assistance, shares the participatory process and outcomes via its robust communications platform, and situates CPAD in a citywide context of collaborative and strategic improvement.
“The Detroit Future City Framework Plan sets a long-term vision but very much focuses on the need for early progress. In the last year, the Detroit Future City office has played a major role in creating momentum for Detroit to rebuild vibrant neighborhoods through residential, commercial, and natural resource development.” says Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation. “We’re proud to support their efforts now and in the future.”
Building Civic Capacity
In addition to working with partners to cultivate innovative actions in neighborhoods across Detroit, the DFC Implementation Office continues to make increasing civic capacity a top priority.
Cockrel said, “Information and resource sharing have been significant components of our community outreach initiatives. We are striving to empower Detroiters by giving them the knowledge and tools they need to be successful participants in the transformation of our city.”
DFC has hosted nearly 5,000 people at its Implementation Office and team members have delivered 120 presentations about Detroit’s shared vision and its story of transformation both locally and internationally.
The DFC Implementation Office has also led important civic capacity building initiatives, including:
- Blight Boot Camp: 300 members of the community and other 44 experts speakers joined together to share information, best practices and resources on blight elimination during 12 workshops as part of the DFC 2014 ‘Spring into Action’ campaign.
- District Meetings: 500 members of the community participated in the meetings held in each of the seven Detroit City Council Districts. DFC team members worked with stakeholders in each district to give district-specific presentation of the DFC Implementation Office’s work. The community feedback from those meeting is used to drive priorities and identify possible projects across the seven city council districts.
ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day: The DFC Implementation Office was the lead sponsor for the 8thAnnual ARISEDetroit! Neighborhoods Day that involved more than 100 events and activities and thousands of Detroit residents. DFC’s sponsorship of Neighborhood’s Day enabled nearly 60 community organizations to purchase $12,000 in clean-up and beautification materials to complete 74 neighborhood improvement projects.
- Denby High School Partnership: The DFC Strategic Framework was incorporated into the senior math, science, and language arts classes, inspiring the students to take a hands-on approach to improving their neighborhood by cleaning up 16 blocks around the school, boarding up 11 vacant homes, and doing work to transform nearby Skinner Playfield.
Arise Detroit! executive director Luther Keith is one of several community-based partners who recognize the efforts of the Cockrel and his team. “DFC has been a tremendous partner for the work of ARISE Detroit by providing us with the resources to serve the many groups and organizations working to transform Detroit,” he said.
Goals for 2015
In 2015 the DFC Implementation Office’s work will focus on continued capacity building, strategic coordination with partners, and innovative place-based initiatives. Each of these focus areas will intersect with DFC’s Implementation Priorities, translating into piloting more initiatives that capitalize on the Implementation Office’s strengths, while opening doors to more substantial results.
Cockrel said a few important aspects of the DFC Implementation Office’s 2015 agenda will include:
- Expanding Partnerships – DFC will continue to grow critical local partnerships with residents, advocates, nonprofits, and private and public sector leaders, while expanding our rapidly growing coordination with important federal and state partners.
- Driving Impactful, Collaborative, and Enterprising Initiatives – DFC will continue to focus its efforts to generate initiatives that demonstrate what is possible when shared action fulfills the DFC Strategic Framework and define an innovative and shared vision for our city’s future.
- Defining an Innovative Agenda for Decision-Making – DFC will advance research, recommendations, and cases linking important strategies in the DFC Strategic Framework with critical decisions being made every day by all Detroiters.
- Thought Leadership – DFC will leverage its position and networks to celebrate and raise awareness of innovative, thoughtful, and emerging concepts that can shape new opportunities.
- Ensure Equity and Opportunity – DFC will continue to champion an equitable stake in our city’s future for all Detroiters, ensuring opportunity comes to all rather than few.