Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund Gets $2.5 Million in Philanthropic Support

Detroit's revitalization is being supported by gifts from the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Detroit’s revitalization is being supported by gifts from the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Photo: Shutterstock

On June 1, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced that they are investing $1.5 million in Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund.

The Strategic Neighborhood Fund is a public-private partnership between the City of Detroit and Invest Detroit whose goal is to show that neighborhood redevelopment can be done in financially sound, sustainable, and inclusive ways.

The Ford Foundation, as part of its larger commitment to addressing inequality in all its forms, has also awarded $1 million to the Strategic Neighborhood Fund.

The investment will be focused initially on three areas of the city: the West Village on the city’s lower east side, the Vernor Highway corridor east of Clark Park in southwest Detroit, and the Livernois-McNichols area of northwestern Detroit. Development in these neighborhoods includes a mix of new commercial and residential projects and rehabilitation of existing residential properties. In the Fitzgerald Neighborhood on the northwest side, the Strategic Neighborhood Fund plans to develop a quarter-square-mile of blight-free residential homes with new green recreation space, community gardens, orchards, and a walking path connecting the University of Detroit Mercy to Marygrove College.

“We are deeply appreciative of the commitment of the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation to Detroit’s strategic plans for revitalizing neighborhoods that suffered disinvestment for too long,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “The foundations’ leaders understand, as Invest Detroit does, that for the city’s recovery to be sustained and inclusive, it must focus on the needs of longtime residents who never gave up on the city. We’re making the case that neighborhood reinvestment works in Detroit.”

The Strategic Neighborhood Fund is a more than $30 million public-private partnership that is part of a broader vision for stabilizing Detroit neighborhoods with targeted reinvestment including new and rehabilitated mixed-income housing and new commercial developments designed to enhance neighborhoods and draw new residents and businesses. The fund’s redevelopment efforts are driven by the needs of neighborhood residents who participate in community meetings that guide the city’s planning.

“Building a network of thriving neighborhoods in Detroit is essential to attracting and keeping talent in the city, and creating new economic opportunities for all, said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit. “The Strategic Neighborhood Fund will help support the growth of more small businesses in Detroit, bring people of different backgrounds and income levels together, and create more of the kind of places where people want to live.”

“We are pleased to partner in this potentially game-changing initiative to ensure the revitalization of the city of Detroit is shared across neighborhoods and to all those committed to the continued ascension of this great city,” said Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. “I commend the mayor and his team for understanding the importance of capital flowing to all corners of the city for a true resurgence and equitable recovery.”

Ultimately, Detroit wants to expand neighborhood redevelopment and community planning to seven more areas, spanning more than 50 neighborhoods, over the next three years.

The investments by the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation build on $10 million previously awarded to the Strategic Neighborhood Fund by JP Morgan Chase and the Hudson-Webber Foundation. It also allows the City of Detroit to implement the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, a partnership between the Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the JPB Foundation that aims to counter economic and social fragmentation by revitalizing and connecting public spaces such as parks, plazas, trails, and libraries.


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