…the Goodness of Regional Philanthropy

Guest Column: Thanksgiving for the Goodness of Regional PhilanthropyCFSEM-123-OaklandCounty115-digital-ad_v2

(Kurt Metzger, Mayor of Pleasant Ridge, Nov. 25, 2014)


A November 11 Detroit News Editorial, entitled “Foundations think out of box to aid Detroit,” paid credit to the foundations who came forth to help fund the Grand Bargain and move the Detroit bankruptcy process to its successful completion.  While this credit is well-deserved, let us not forget to recognize what our riches in local philanthropy (plus the Non-locals who they have helped to bring to the table) have meant to Detroit and the region for many years before bankruptcy.  The Community Foundation, Skillman, Hudson-Webber, McGregor, and Kresge have been addressing issues in neighborhoods, education, crime, basic needs and more for years.

I go back to the 2007-08 period to mark the beginning of the rebirth of Detroit. Kwame Kilpatrick was in office ctechadand he reached out to the philanthropic community to aid his “neighborhood initiative.”  Rip Rapson was new in town at Kresge and knew the need for a strong core city.  He was joined by Miriam Noland (Community Foundation), Dave Egner (Hudson Webber), David Campbell (McGregor), Carol Goss (Skillman), Jodee Raines (Erb), Doug Stewart (Fisher) and representatives from corporate foundations.  In turn, they brought the Kellogg, Ford and Knight foundations to the table. They met regularly, as the Detroit Funders Network, and discussed how they could best help the city – as the city chose to play a smaller and smaller role in those discussions.  Over the years these discussions, with dollars behind them, have produced the Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response; Data Driven Detroit; the New Economy Initiative; the Lower Woodward Corridor Initiative and Midtown, Inc.; Detroit Future City; Kresge’s Arts funding; Knight Foundation technology initiatives; the Detroit Creative Corridor; and M-1 Rail. Sahara ad with wine They have coordinated internship programs and have been responsible for bringing the federal government to Detroit in the form of program personnel and dollars for transit and blight removal.

I owe the wonderful opportunity I was given to start Data Driven Detroit to the Kresge and Skillman foundations, and its continuation after startup to all the foundations I have mentioned.  Without the vision and hard work our philanthropic organizations have demonstrated, there would be no sandbox on Campus Martius, much less an end to bankruptcy and a bright future for Detroit.

Jim Shaffer KELLER ad blackThis holiday season I am thankful for all the organizations that help make our region great. Please support the efforts of these fine organizations:







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