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18 Detroit neighborhood groups split $1.5M in Kresge grants

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Myrtle Thompson, center, Program Director and Co-Founder of Feedum Freedom, and Mikel Bresee, right center, pose with community members in front of a pavilion being built as part of the Fox Creek Artscape transformation of two vacant lots in the Jefferson/Chalmers neighborhood. The transformation includes the pavilion, as well as a farm stand and a creative landscape.
Photo by Lon Horwedel, courtesy The Kresge Foundation

Repurposing vacant buildings or land for community use is a key in many of the 18 planning and implementation grants from the Kresge Foundation’s latest award announcement. These grants represent the first round of Kresge’s Innovative Projects: Detroit program, and span across the city.

The grants support programs in either planning or implementation phases. Many include creating community outdoor spaces, such as MACC Development’s addition to the Commons and 360 Detroit Inc. creating a park from vacant lots in the Virginia Park neighborhood. Others involve renovating vacant buildings within neighborhoods, including the updating of a sports, health and wellness facilities of North Rosedale Park and the transformation of a former speak easy and shoe shine shop in the North End into a place for grassroots retail, community events, and performances.

Jerry Hebron stands outside of Red’s Jazz Shoe Shine on Oakland Avenue.
Photo by Lon Horwedel, courtesy The Kresge Foundation

Other projects receiving planning grants include Detroit Horse Power, which currently uses facilities outside of the city and will plan for a youth equestrian center in the Hope Village neighborhood. The Detroit Sound Conservancy plans on redeveloping the Blue Bird Inn into a music performance and community center. Global Detroit will run a “Southwest Homeownership Ecosystem Development Project,” which will connect families to affordable housing resources. The Ruth Ellis Center will work on a permanent supportive housing project for LGBTQ young adults in the North End.

Implementation grants (up to $150,000) will support a co-op work space in Southwest Detroit through Garage Cultural, a mobile outreach resource unit in Jefferson-Chalmers through Hope Community Outreach and Development, and the final phase of renovation of the Popps Emporium building in the Davison neighborhood as an artist, exhibition, and neighborhood space.

Courtesy of the Kresge Foundation

“Detroit’s true revitalization means the broad revitalization of its neighborhoods,” said Kresge President Rip Rapson. “That requires a multiplicity of tools and interlinked strategies. This relaunch of Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit is rooted in the same principles as our recently announced support for the mayor’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund, our operating support for community development organizations, our Hope Starts Here partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to make Detroit a city that puts children and families first, and the full suite of our work in the city. We will continue to work with partners to make this broad revitalization a reality.”

Kresge is also committed to $500,000 in technical support to its grantees, along with connecting the grantees in order to share and support each others’ work. The full list of community groups can be found here.