Ascend Foundation Among Groups Receiving Grants to Help Reduce School Violence
(CFSEM, March 7, 2023)
Pontiac, MI – Every student deserves a quality education and to feel safe within school. But — following the mass shooting at Michigan State University two weeks ago and more than a year after the Oxford High School shooting —students continue to endure violence, threats of violence and stressors from the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan today announced $55,000 in youth-led grants to support ongoing mental health and anti-violence efforts throughout our region.
The $55,000 in grants comes from a $100,000 pool of money initiated and overseen by the Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee after the Oxford shooting in November 2021. The purpose of this Youth-to-Youth Community Solutions Fund is to help southeast Michigan schools tackle mental health, gun violence and school safety. (The latest round of grantmaking from this fund was supplemented by an additional $15,000 from another youth-directed fund at the Community Foundation.)
“Our hearts are heavy for the students and families impacted by Feb. 13’s shooting at Michigan State University,” said Richard (Ric) DeVore, president Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “The three students who so tragically lost their lives are from communities we serve here in southeast Michigan.”
“All youth in our region have experienced so much over the last few years, including COVID-19, the Oxford High School shooting, and ongoing threats of violence in their schools. They deserve the fundamental right to feel safe in school — to learn in a place where they can focus and maintain strong connections with friends. This remains a critical time for young people and families to have support, and to listen to youth about the change that they want to see around gun violence and school safety.”
The current round of grantmaking benefits the following nonprofit organizations that work to supplement school capacity.
- Congress of Communities — $10,000 for a culturally relevant mental health program for youth in southwest Detroit, in partnership with local healing practitioners
- Detroit Food & Entrepreneurship Academy — $10,000 for an expanded afterschool wellness program for students
- Clarence Phillips Ascend Organization, Inc. — $25,000 for youth mental health and anti-violence training programs in Pontiac (an additional $15,000 was leveraged on this grant from the endowed Youth Leadership Fund at the foundation)
- Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities — $10,000 for youth-led distribution of 345 multi-lingual mental health kits across 23 selected schools in Wayne County
A previous $60,000 round of grant-making from the Youth-to-Youth Community Solutions Fund supported youth-led initiatives within schools throughout southeast Michigan. Separately, the Community Foundation granted $10,000 to Oxford Public Schools after the shooting and $75,000 to Common Ground for its “All for Oxford Resiliency Center,” located in Oxford, Mich.
The Youth Advisory Committee, also known as “the YAC,” helps the Community Foundation engage youth leaders and voices in shaping the future. During the past 30-plus years, its middle school-, high school- and college-age advisors have recommended nearly 200 grants that promote youth leadership throughout our region, totaling more than $1.3 million. Visit cfsem.org/youth-
According to their website, “The Ascend Foundation was founded on behalf of the Late Mayor of Pontiac and Michigan State House of Representative, Clarence Phillips. It is an organization that has been in existence for numerous years dating back to the late 1990’s.
“The organization started as a vision of correlation between Mayor Phillips and his wife Lorene’s push to promote the power of education, community service and the arts within the community; coupled with the mentoring element that their son, Kaino Phillips, embodied daily through motivational speaking and his leadership roles while participating in various organizations. It was this ideology that served as the catalyst in providing the inertia that became the very genesis of this organization.
“It was only after Mayor Phillips passing that the physical name of the organization changed to The Clarence E. Phillips Ascend Foundation, in his honor. The conglomerate has pushed forward with the vision and diligent structure of tireless community service for the people of Oakland County with a STRONG emphasis on the community of Pontiac. It is within this framework we have developed a YOUTH OUTREACH component that has become our PRIDE and CROWNED JEWEL of the Foundation. Along with this featured organizational movement, the group derived an outreach initiative to help promote the power of community through various different developed programs and community service impact.”
About the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development, and civic affairs. Since its inception, the foundation has distributed more than $1.4 billion through more than 85,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties. Visit www.cfsem.org to learn more.