Detroit Residents First Fund Announces Second Cohort; McGregor Fund Joins Partnership

The Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and Skillman Foundation have announced the seven nonprofit organizations selected to take part in the second round of funding through the Detroit Residents First Fund (DRFF) launched last summer. In addition, the McGregor Fund has joined this historic partnership.


The $6.1 million Fund was established using an innovative framework of participatory grantmaking where nonprofit and community leaders partner with foundation representatives to determine how grant funds are dispersed. The Fund prioritizes support for Detroit-based grassroots nonprofit organizations whose leaders are Black, indigenous or other persons of color working to transform neighborhoods in Detroit with the least access to power and social capital.


The DRFF was the first of its kind in Detroit and is one of few partnerships to exist in the state of Michigan where foundations, nonprofits and community leaders have created a formal structure and process for sharing decision-making power.


“We’re so happy to announce this second round of funding for these well-deserved organizations doing incredible work in the community,” said Daija Butler, director of planning for Wayne Metro who oversees the DRFF. “Grass-roots organizations – many who have never received funding directly from a foundation – need access to funding for philanthropy to be truly equitable.”


The 2022 cohort will receive a total of $1,110,000 in funding distributed among the seven organizations over three years, as well as access to a wealth of other resources. The group of selected nonprofits includes:


  • Freedom Dreams — Works to create indoor and outdoor spaces for gathering, oral history, and relaxation on Detroit’s eastside. Their DRFF grant will support creation of these spaces, which will provide trade skills and jobs for Detroiters, and the outdoor spaces will serve as community gardens and gathering spaces for recreational and other neighborhood activities.
  • Association for the Advancement of Deaf/Hard of Hearing (AADHH) — Provides youth scholarships and life skills training to Detroit’s deaf and hard of hearing community. AADHH plans to use the funds to establish transitional housing for deaf youth facing homelessness and increase accessibility of their services and restore social power and autonomy to deaf/hard of hearing Detroiters.
  • What About Us Inc. — Its Live Long and Love Community Project will uplift neighborhood beautification efforts and combat negative social determinants of health impacting the quality of life and mortality rates of Black Detroiters. Grant funds will be used to repair the organization’s existing community hub which offers family-friendly activities and health services as well as provide workshops for residents to learn about gardening and healthy lifestyles.
  • S&D PJ Housing — Provides CompTIA entry-level and continuing education certification for IT professionals and voter education for returning citizens from the justice system as part of a larger vision of bringing healing and restoring peace within the community, removing barriers to opportunity, and creating upward mobility and empowerment.
  • ParkGrove Block Club — ParkGrove Health and Wellness Park will provide residents in the 48205 zip code with an improved quality of life by providing a beautiful, safely designed space for convening and exercising. Plans for the park once build out is complete include annual summer block party, walking club for seniors, and summer camp for youth.
  • East Davison Village Community Group — East Davison Village Community Group is seeking to realize their historically Black neighborhood’s vision of building a community hub and commons to serve as a central place for meeting, learning, connecting to resources and preserving bonds across generations and cultures.
  • Workin’ Roots — A Nolan neighborhood initiative to bring healthy, sustainable food options to residents lacking access to grocery stores. Youth farm apprentices will receive paid training to cultivate a community garden to address the issues caused by the food desert impacting families in their community.


“There is so much dynamic, transformative community-based work happening across Detroit,” said Kate Levin Markel, McGregor Fund president. “DRFF offers foundations a great way to provide multi-year support to local leaders and organizations that are highly valued by the community and looking to grow their impact. We’re grateful for the opportunity to join and learn from this effort.”


Fifteen organizations were selected to participate in the DRFF’s pilot program announced the summer of 2021, which saw $700,000 dispersed among the organizations during the first year, supporting projects focused on expanding resident engagement, building resident power and developing other skills helpful in guiding the future of Detroit neighborhoods.


These organizations include: 360 Detroit, Avalon Village, Bailey Park Project, Canfield Consortium, Chadsey Condon Community Organization, Community Movement Builders, Denby Neighborhood Alliance, Force Detroit, Georgia Street Community Collective, In Memory of Community Garden, MECCA Development Corporation, North End Woodward Community Coalition, Southwest Pride, People’s Water Board and We the People of Detroit.


Participatory grantmaking, an emerging philanthropic model, recognizes nonprofit community organizations as the impetus for shaping the future, and invites community and nonprofit leaders to work together to share power and resources to make decisions on how money is spent.


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