By Adrian Tonon, Jabari Jefferson and Andre Reed
Photo Lil Monsterr
Public spaces and venues are the convener of people. How can we curate spaces to not only entertain and inspire visually, but also serve as a catalyst or a pathway to mental health, jobs and other resources that have the potential to uplift communities? Meet four leaders from the non profit and social work sector who are championing awareness and tangible opportunity.
Royce 59 / Artist / Ryan Montgomery Foundation
The Ryan Montgomery Foundation first social initiative is to help facilitate the outreach of mental health therapy to the under-privileged and those who are the most at-risk, and lacking the adequate resources to get treatment. In some instances, this is the difference between life or death.
We offer FREE care coordination ensuring access to quality mental health treatment. We partnered with NAMI, Michigan (The National Alliance On Mental Illness), and CNS Healthcare, both based in Detroit. We are bridging those who are in need of not only the tools to become healthier mentally, but also the awareness that seeking mental health assistance does not come with a weak or negative stigma.
It is crucial for companies to intentionally implement sustainable community programs that give individuals and families awareness, then access to resources and opportunities needed to achieve their fullest potential. Currently you can call 1.833.Royce59 and receive free mental health assistance.
Kevin Fischer / Executive Director / National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI Michigan and its affiliates are dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life for persons, families and others, who are affected by mental illness, including children with serious emotional disorders, through support, education, advocacy and research. NAMI provides mental health education, support leadership and advocacy at no cost to participants.
At NAMI, we believe a diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization (or Alliance) is one where all employees, volunteers and members — regardless of gender, race, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, education, disability, veteran status or other dimension of diversity– feel valued and respected. As an African American male, a father who’s son faced the stigma of living with a mental illness and unfortunately died by suicide, I know first hand the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in mental health for caregivers, professionals and people in need of service. Since becoming Executive Director of NAMI Michigan in 2014 the diversity of our organization, and those seeking mental health services has grown significantly, and we are committed to continued inclusion.
From a behavioral health prospective I think it incredibly important that businesses get involved in the mental health movement. Mental illness is a medical diagnosis, not a weakness of character. “STIGMA” is the leading barrier that prevents people from seeking the care they need, which leads to better outcomes for everyone. COVID 19 has significantly impacted the behavioral health of so many. Businesses need to join the mental health movement, not only as employers, but also in the community, demonstrating the importance of addressing our behavioral health to normalize this issue and eliminate the stigma.
Raven Scott / Detroit at Work
Detroit at Work highlights any supportive services needed in preparing for and obtaining a job from transportation, child care, obtaining a license, GED/High School equivalency support, job training programs, clothing, interview prep skills. We also assist in HOW Detroiters can obtain that help.
We support all Detroiters seeking workforce support and our mission and focus remains the same. In spring and summer 2021 we plan on working with our partners to make our touring jobs bus Workforce 1 present at popular public spaces where many young and impressionable Detroiters convene to enjoy the amenities Detroit has to offer. We want to bring the resources and opportunities to them.
DAW never stopped our efforts even with the pandemic hit. We immediately shifted our support to on-line, call center and when available appointment only in person support. We created “Ready to Hire” jobs to help Detroiters that needed to find work during the pandemic. We provided call center support for Detroiters needed help filing unemployment and supported thousands. The main difference will be that our eight Career Centers will all be open as they were prior to the pandemic and Workforce One will be back in public spaces and in the neighborhoods. We will have more in-person support, but our support did not waiver during the pandemic.
Gina Cavaliere / Chief Community Impact Officer and BIZ Director / Downtown Detroit Partnership
The mission of the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) is to advance Detroit by driving engagement, development and programs that benefit businesses, residents and visitors throughout the Downtown’s urban core.
The Downtown Detroit Partnership strengthens and supports Downtown Detroit through strategic initiatives and programs that evolve with the changing needs of the community. DDP convenes business, philanthropic and government partners to ensure that efforts in the creation of a vibrant urban core for Detroit are balanced and all perspectives are considered. DDP and the BIZ are committed to maintaining a welcoming Downtown for everyone, supporting accessibility and opportunities for all.
DDP’s three topline goals all promote equity and opportunity for all Detroiters: DDP serves as Downtown’s convener and balanced voice, steward of place and promoter of equity and inclusion.
DDP’s role as Convener and Balanced Voice:
DDP serves as a lead convener of collaborative organizations and stakeholders who seek positive outcomes for Detroit’s future, focusing on strategic and balanced outcomes that position Downtown for sustainable growth, while advancing the greater good of the city. DDP promotes programs, amenities and citizen experiences that raise awareness and galvanize expectations around creating a Downtown for everyone.
DDP’s role as Steward of Place:
DDP is a leader in developing the mission and vision for Downtown Detroit as a place, streamlining and driving the planning and implementation of catalytic master plans, projects and initiatives. DDP serves as a leader in response to growing demand for investment, public-private placemaking projects and consistent data collection and dissemination.
DDP’s role as Promoter of Equity and Inclusion:
Throughout all areas of practice and programming, DDP creates policies and best practices that include all residents, cultures, income levels and personal and professional backgrounds as people engage in the Detroit experience, both Downtown and citywide.
Consumer behavior has changed drastically during the pandemic, and a return to pre-pandemic habits anytime soon is unlikely. Shopping and patronizing restaurants, especially in person, now requires extra effort. Small businesses are relying on customer loyalty to survive.
Businesses must understand the values of the community and create a welcoming environment for customers. In 2021 we intend to offer hospitality and customer service training to Downtown restaurants and retailers similar to that undergone by the BIZ Ambassadors. The goal is for Downtown to build on its reputation for being a place that is welcoming and vibrant for all who visit, work and live in Detroit.
As we navigated and pivoted through this pandemic most performance stages and the gig economy have continued to suffer tremendously since March 2020. Join us for the fifth series to hear from four industry leaders who are championing to save and sustain our music venues, and gig economy.