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­­2019: A Year of Radical Love

As I reflect on 2019, one phrase rises to the top, a summary of my aspirations and my commitment to our children: Radical Love.

“Radical” is to champion significant social change. “Love” is to act in favor of others, for the betterment of people. Radical love in Detroit is about enabling social change and promoting equity that sparks transformation for the city’s children.

I bear witness to parents, teachers, and community members of all professions exercise radical love on behalf of Detroit kids. Their brilliance, compassion, and dedication bring light into the lives of children, helping them feel loved, respected, and capable.

The Skillman Foundation seeks to be a purveyor of radical love, striving to ensure all Detroit children have equitable opportunities to learn and to lead. This is a high ambition, and the Foundation is learning to apply the principles of radical love as it goes. Radical love has fueled:

  • The Opportunity Agenda for Detroit Children, our grant- and change-making strategies that focus on three deliverables to advance equity for Detroit children: strengthening K-12 public education measured by third-grade reading, expanding afterschool learning opportunities measured by increased public funding and program quality, and improving college and career pathways measured by meaningful high school graduation.
  • Our efforts to ensure Detroit youth are involved in the city’s recovery. This includes elevating youth voice and leadership to influence decisions affecting young people and the next iteration of their city.
  • Equipping civic leaders to engage in cross-sectoral collaborations to address complex social problems. This requires robust solutions grounded in collaboration between a variety of sectors and viewpoints to maximize a range of ideas, innovations, perspectives, experiences, and resources.
  • Being a fierce champion of Detroit children, consistently using forward-leaning actions and asset-based language.
  • Using our platform to continually ask “How are the children?” Like the Masai tribe who coined the expression, we understand that the well-being of any community can only be measured by the well-being of its children. “How are the children?” is a question of equity. And it is an expression of radical love.
  • Our organizational values, which we reflected on and refined this year:
    • Kids First: First place goes to Detroit kids, always.
    • Trusted Partner: Kids are the mission; partnerships are the way.
    • World Wise, Detroit Smart: We combine innovative and best-practice content knowledge with deep understanding of the Detroit context to make the biggest impact for kids.
    • Greater Than Grants: We cultivate and deploy resources–beyond grants–in service of Detroit kids.
    • Equity Focused: We are equity focused, diversity driven, and inclusion minded.

2020 is bound to bring its share of successes, gains, and wins, and undoubtedly there will be challenges, frustrations, and heartaches. Despite any setbacks, I am confident that together we will fuel our equitable comeback. After all, ain’t no love like Detroit love.

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