Youth violence prevention initiative gets lift

For release: Aug. 9, 2012

DETROIT – For nearly two years, Detroit’s officials and community leaders have been working together through the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative to reduce youth violence and promote positive youth development. Now, with a $2 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to City Connect Detroit’s Detroit Youth First Initiative, the anti-violence youth campaign will expand its network of supports, engaging an array of community-based partners and existing community-based initiatives to help keep kids safe in Detroit.

“Youth violence and crime are issues that require collaborative action,” said Dierk Hall, president and CEO, City Connect Detroit. “Detroit children will be safer because of strong public and private partnerships, collaborations with law enforcement, community engagement and the city of Detroit.”

With the additional funding, the Detroit Youth First Initiative will collaborate with trusted community and neighborhood partners, including Don Bosco Hall, Neighborhood Service Organization, Think Detroit Pal and Wow Church and Life Center, as well as the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, to implement youth intervention and engagement programs.

“The Kellogg Foundation believes in community-based solutions,” said Sharnita C. Johnson, program officer for Detroit, W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Just like parents and communities all across Michigan, Detroiters want to make sure that their children are safe and have opportunities to grow and thrive. The Detroit Youth First Initiative involves the community in identifying the issues, developing solutions and making measureable change for the city’s youth.”

In 2010, at the direction of President Obama, the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention (the Forum) was established to build a national conversation concerning youth and gang violence. Detroit, one of six cities to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Justice for such an initiative, has community engagement at its core.

“One sector alone can’t make this plan work,” said Saul Green, chair of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Steering Committee. “From the beginning, we’ve worked to involve the community, including Detroit youth and stakeholders from faith-based, law enforcement, workforce development, public health, business and community leaders. Working with community takes time, but we know it’s time well spent.”

The mission of City Connect Detroit is to help metropolitan Detroit nonprofits and governments obtain increased national funding and to facilitate collaboration among nonprofits, governments, businesses, grant-makers and others. With the WKKF funding, City Connect will be able to build the capacity of the Detroit Youth First Initiative, fully leverage national funding dollars from the U.S. Department of Justice, and work to bring in additional funders and partners to develop a robust and sustainable system of positive youth development activities in the city.

A number of community partners and funders have been and continue to be involved in the comprehensive Detroit Youth Violence Prevention initiative, including Detroit Public Schools, the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, Detroit Public Safety Foundation and the Skillman Foundation

"Youth violence is a tough issue that requires the full community to respond if we want to effectively address it," said Tonya Allen, chief operating officer and vice president of program, Skillman Foundation. "The Skillman Foundation has engaged in this work because of its significance to the well-being of children in Detroit," she added. "We have worked in partnership with the mayor, chief of police, Department of Justice, other law enforcement agencies and community-based agencies because we believe in the power of community to solve youth violence, if we act as one."

About City Connect Detroit

City Connect Detroit is a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency created by Detroit area foundations in 2001 to promote collaboration and community fund development. Since its inception, the agency has organized more than three dozen community collaborative partnerships and worked with their principals to generate more than $110 million in individual, corporate, foundation, and government grants and donations to support the work of community problem solvers.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

About the Skillman Foundation

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, Chadsey Condon, Brightmoor, Osborn, Northend Central and Cody Rouge – and toward innovative and successful schools throughout the city of Detroit


CONTACT:             Media interested in more information should contact:

David Cherry, City Connect Detroit

 (313) 967-5641

Bree Glenn, Weber Shandwick

(248) 672-8450 Cell