Skillman Foundation announces Request for Proposals for high-quality youth development opportunities in Detroit neighborhoods

DETROIT -- Skillman Foundation Chief Executive Officer Tonya Allen today announced the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to fund youth development projects in six Detroit neighborhoods. While the Foundation has funded youth development programming for its entire five decade history, it has increased its focus on it in its new strategic plan, guided by the desire to organize and strengthen disparate youth development efforts across the six Skillman target neighborhoods and to bring a tighter focus on academics.

The RFP process will be used to make twice-annual funding decisions through the newly established Youth Development Fund. The first RFP process will award grants totaling up to $1.2 million toward youth development projects in Brightmoor, Chadsey Condon, Cody Rouge, Northend Central Woodward, Osborn, and Southwest Detroit.

The RFP asks area nonprofits working in those neighborhoods to submit plans that increase youth educational success by expanding high-quality youth development activities that help youth Achieve, Connect and Thrive. This ACT framework is based on educational and developmental psychology, which identifies the core assets and skill sets important for success in school, college and 21st Century careers:

  • The Achieving domain refers to the skill sets necessary for youth to achieve academically, specifically in developing literacy and math proficiency
  • The Connecting domain refers to building relationship skills that help students develop supportive relationships.
  • The Thriving domain refers to perseverance, self efficacy, and the resilience necessary for youth to maintain the effort to succeed.

“We hope this RFP process will streamline and connect our youth development efforts, ultimately increasing the collective impact,” said Allen, who became the Foundation’s CEO on July 1, and will become the Foundation’s sixth president beginning in 2014. “The ACT framework will put more focus on areas that we know are crucial to getting kids ready to graduate and succeed in the world after high school.

“We are putting a special emphasis on programs that feature Achieve work, because we know many students in our neighborhoods need extra help in math and reading. We hope this increased focus will bring them more opportunities to get them that help that they need and deserve.”

Requests for proposals through the fund will be released in July and March each year. Optional technical assistance sessions will be held on July 9 and July 22, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at the Skillman Foundation. Applications for the first round are due Aug. 5. Grants of between $50,000 and $200,000 will be awarded in October.

In 2009, Skillman launched the Youth Development Alliance, a network of nearly 100 youth development providers across the target neighborhoods with a mission to significantly strengthen the supports and systems that affect youth and help them develop leadership skills and the ability to successfully navigate life.  The YDA will have input in the grantmaking process, with final decisions made by the Foundation.

The Foundation is also launching a Youth Development Resource Center, which will assist in tracking data and ensuring funded organizes get technical assistance.

“The combination of the YDA, this new Youth Development Fund and the Youth Development Resource Center is going to increase the quality of work for organizations across the city,” said Kristen McDonald, the Foundation’s vice president, program and policy. “That will result in better opportunities for youth, more engaged and able adults, and programs that are truly preparing students for what comes next.”

The Foundation’s 2012 assessment of supports for youth in our neighborhoods conducted by Brandeis University and Data Driven Detroit found 77 agencies overseeing 216 youth programs with 292 program sites in the six Skillman neighborhoods.  The combination of agencies, programs and sites resulted in 48 percent of neighborhood youth ages 11-18 having access to youth development opportunities in their neighborhoods, a 15 percent increase since 2010.

Download the RFP documents here

Created in 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy committed to improving meaningful graduation rates in the Detroit region, so kids are ready for college, career, and life. The Foundation has assets of nearly a half-billion dollars, with an annual grants budget of $17 million. The Foundation works to achieve its goal by investing in community leadership, neighborhoods, safety initiatives, high-quality schools, social innovation, and youth development.