Collaborative effort links higher graduation rates to long-term health

The Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center has been awarded a $200,000 grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and an additional $100,000 from The Skillman Foundation to improve long-term health of people in Detroit by increasing graduation rates.

The project will target Detroit's lowest-performing schools in a two-year collaborative effort with Michigan's Education Achievement Authority, a new statewide authority on underperforming schools. Specifically, schools in Brightmoor, Cody Rouge, Northend/Central, Osborn, Southwest Detroit and Lower Eastside will be targeted.

The new effort, Neighborhoods Taking Action, will ensure that students and parents are actively involved in the design and implementation of reforms associated with the EAA. The NTA collaborative research partnership includes Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, Communities in Schools of Detroit, the Detroit Department of Health & Wellness Promotion, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, the Detroit Public Schools Office of Charter Schools, Friends of Parkside, Henry Ford Academy, The Skillman Foundation and the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

“Neighborhoods Taking Action will work directly with parents and residents to help ensure Detroit kids graduate from high school and go on to successful lives as adults,” said Skillman Foundation President & CEO Carol Goss. ”We’re enthusiastic about this project, and we believe it will play an important role in Detroit’s comeback.””

Awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the 12 Roadmaps to Health Community Grants support two-year state and local efforts among policymakers, business, education, health care, public health and community organizations and will be managed by Community Catalyst. The grants are part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration of RWJF and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).

“These projects are really exciting for two reasons:  first, they are truly collaborations among diverse community partners who bring expertise, relationships and resources to improve people’s health; and second, that in addition to  health behaviors such as smoking and diet, they are focused on factors such as education, family relationships and income that heavily influence our health and quality of life,” said James S. Marks, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director of the Health Group at RWJF.

Created in 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy whose chief aim is to help develop good schools and good neighborhoods for children. Though grants are made throughout metropolitan Detroit, most grants are directed at six Detroit neighborhoods – Southwest Detroit (Vernor and Chadsey/Condon), Brightmoor, Osborn, and Cody/Rouge and the Northend – and toward innovative and successful schools throughout the city of Detroit.

The Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center (Detroit URC) is an equitable partnership governed by a Board involving members from the University of Michigan Schools of Public Health, Nursing, and Social Work; the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion; eight community-based organizations (Community Health and Social Services, Inc., Communities In Schools, Detroit Hispanic Development  Corporation, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Friends of Parkside, Latino Family Services, Neighborhood Service Organization, Warren Conner Development Corporation) and Henry Ford Health System.  For over 15 years the Detroit URC has been working to improve the health and well-being of Detroit residents, contribute to the elimination of health inequities in Detroit and translate the knowledge gained into public health interventions, programs and policies that build upon community resources and strengths.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measureable and timely change. For nearly 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

Community Catalyst is a national non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all. Community Catalyst works in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to improve the health of communities and to change the health care system so it serves everyone.