National Philanthropic Collaborative announces up to $17 million for Detroit

DETROIT -- Living Cities, a collaborative of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, announced today that Detroit is one of five cities chosen as winners in the new Integration Initiative, which supports game-changing innovations that address intractable problems affecting low-income people. This continues Living Cities’ 20-year commitment to Detroit, which has resulted in millions of dollars for community initiatives.

Detroit seeks to position the Woodward Corridor as a “regional urban core” in order to drive land-use planning, economic growth, anchor engagement and educational investments. By focusing on the Woodward Corridor, home to Detroit’s major universities and hospitals, the initiative will create a model for older industrial cities of concentrating population and activity in sustainable corridors, expanding opportunity for low-income residents, and reusing vacant land. Through the Integration Initiative, Detroit is eligible for up to $23 million in grants, commercial loans and Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to support its efforts. PRIs are flexible, low-cost loans provided at below-market rates to support charitable activity. 

Living Cities resources will help Detroit leverage extensive local and national philanthropic and governmental support, increasing focused investment along the Corridor, providing capital to a frozen market and allowing critical projects to move forward.  Funding will support the initiative’s work to stabilize neighborhoods adjacent to Corridor through blight reduction and productive re-use of land and buildings, including creation of at least 200 new units of mixed-income housing, and renovation of at least 75 properties through a community land trust. It will also result in attraction of 10,000 new residents to the Corridor and provision of at least $50 million in additional vendor and supplier opportunities to local businesses.
“The Living Cities Integration Initiative is a critical investment in the people and future of our city,” said Mayor Dave Bing. “As we continue working to redefine Detroit, the Woodward Corridor must play a central role. This initiative will provide the necessary resources for successful collaboration across the public and private sector to make the Woodward Corridor an example of what can be accomplished when we work together."

The Integration Initiative is an effort to leverage the financial investment, influence and leadership of Living Cities members to create a new framework for solving complex problems. It encourages local leaders to work together to challenge obsolete conventional wisdom, “rewire” the systems that are critical to making our cities places of opportunity for low-income people, and drive the private market to work on behalf of low-income people. The Integration Initiative seeks to institutionalize these changes through a focus on changing local, state and federal policy. The support to Detroit is part of up to $80 million that will be invested in five metropolitan areas.

“We are excited about the opportunity to invest in Detroit,” said Pablo Farias, Chairman of the Living Cities Board of Directors and Vice-President, Economic Opportunity and Assets at the Ford Foundation. “Throughout America, our cities are facing significant challenges, each of which is too large to be addressed by a single approach. Through this integrative approach, the public, private, non-profit and philanthropic sectors can work together to make our cities places of opportunity for low-income people.”

As part of its application, Detroit’s public, private, philanthropic and non-profit sectors agreed to work as true partners on the initiative. The University Cultural Center Association, together with The Kresge Foundation and The Skillman Foundation, coordinated the application. Other partners in the effort are the City of Detroit; Michigan State Housing Development Authority; Detroit Medical Center;  Wayne State University; Henry Ford Health System; Vanguard Community Development Corporation; Invest Detroit; and Data Driven Detroit.

“Detroit is using the Integration Initiative to aid the city as it works to build new public systems. This selection also represents a continuation of our relationship with Detroit,” said Living Cities CEO Ben Hecht. “During our 20-year history, we have invested $12 million in affordable housing and other initiatives in Detroit, which has been leveraged to $117 million. We also have previously invested in green retrofitting initiatives here. In addition, senior mayoral appointees have taken part in our Project on Municipal Innovation, which is held in partnership with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to help support public sector leaders at the municipal level. We look forward to working with this community to create greater opportunities for low-income residents through the Integration Initiative."

The five winners announced today were selected after a comprehensive competitive process. Other cities chosen for the Integration Initiative are Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark and the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis/St. Paul. The announcement was made during a launch event at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

The following is an overview of the initiatives to be undertaken in the other four cities.

  • Baltimore – Together with anchor institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, city and state government and non-profit partners, the Baltimore Integration Partnership will focus on creating job opportunities and improving neighborhoods in Central and East Baltimore, while preparing residents for opportunities created by the construction of the Red Line, a 14-mile east-west transit line.
  • Cleveland – The initiative will work with nationally significant institutions including the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University  to implement procurement, hiring, employee incentives and capital investment programs that develop local jobs and businesses that benefit low-income people in the region.
  • Newark – This initiative will work to create a healthful environment through integrated investments in housing, public safety, access to healthcare, green space, fresh and healthy foods and employment.  Newark’s strategy is focused on alleviating the environmental conditions that create barriers to residents’ advancement by creating a “wellness economy” that improves both the supply of and demand for safe, healthy and affordable options.  
  • Twin Cities – The initiative takes advantage of substantial investments in three regional transit lines to create a model of how development of transit can expand opportunity for low-income people.  The initiative brings together leaders from local, regional and state government, along with the private, philanthropic and not-for-profit sectors to develop frameworks to create and preserve transit-accessible affordable housing and mixed-use, mixed-income developments; to help small, often minority- or immigrant-owned businesses weather transit corridor construction; and to forge planning and investment strategies that catalyze neighborhood-led development, link residents with job opportunities, and establish a more appealing private investment environment in transit corridors.

Founded in 1991, Living Cities is a unique philanthropic collaborative of 22 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions. Over the past 19 years, Living Cities has invested more than $1 billion in American cities-leveraged into $16 billion and making a demonstrable difference in neighborhoods throughout the nation. Our members are not simply funders. They participate at the senior management level on the Living Cities Board of Directors and contribute the time of 80+ expert staff toward crafting and implementing an agenda that is squarely focused on improving the lives of low-income people and the urban areas in which they live.

Living Cities Members: AARP Foundation, AXA Equitable, Bank of America, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Citi Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase & Company, Deutsche Bank, Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, MetLife, Inc., Morgan Stanley, Prudential Financial, The Rockefeller Foundation, Surdna Foundation Affiliate Members: The Cleveland Foundation, The Skillman Foundation.