Introducing The Skillman Visionary Awards
College and Career Pathways

Celebrating the Career of Robert Thornon

Robert Thornton

After 17 years with The Skillman Foundation, Robert Thornton has retired leaving a legacy defined by service and a relentless commitment to the youth of Detroit.

Since joining The Skillman Foundation in 2001, Robert has been an essential part of the organization’s work on behalf of Detroit children. During his time with the Foundation, Robert played an essential role in coordinating the Good Neighborhoods Initiative’s community efforts and coordinated change work in the Brightmoor, Chadsey Condon and Cody Rouge neighborhoods. He has also supported the Foundation’s faith-based and fatherhood work while also developing the organization’s safety strategic approach.

A highly effective community organizer, Robert’s true passion is demonstrated in his unwavering efforts on behalf of youth, with a focus on the unique challenges faced by African-American and Latino boys. His work played a key role in the development of My Brother’s Keeper Detroit, an initiative that has received national recognition for its success and impact.

Robert was recently joined by family, friends, and colleagues for a retirement celebration at the new PAL Detroit Corner Ballpark. Guests from the city’s nonprofit, business, and faith-based communities shared their appreciation for his service and wished him luck as he enters into a brand new chapter of his life. In recognition of his work, Robert received the Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council in addition to honorable recognition from the governor of Michigan and the mayor of Detroit.

The evening concluded with a special video presentation featuring some of Robert’s closest friends and colleagues sharing their favorite memories and the impact he had on their lives.

Through his steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to the community, Robert has and will continue to be, a fierce champion for Detroit children. He is truly a model for what it means to serve one’s community.

The Skillman Foundation

The Skillman Foundation is a grantmaking organization established in 1960 by Rose Skillman. We have granted out more than $730 million and have served as a vocal advocate to strengthen K-12 education, afterschool programming, child-centered neighborhoods, youth and community leadership, and racial equity and justice.

We are in the process of developing a new strategic framework, co-designed with Detroit youth and their champions.

Comments (4)

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  • Leo Carr

    Congratulations Robert Thornton! You’ve been a great Civic Leader for all the years I’ve known you! I wish you well in the next chapter of your life!

  • Congratulations Robert. It was a pleasure meeting you in July to discuss Real Food Pantry. I wish you all the best in retirement and hope that you will be able visit one of our Detroit pantries in the very near future.

  • Such a beautiful video – well suited for the beautiful man behind it! Congrats Robert!!!

  • Katie DiSalvo-Thronson

    Robert, Congratulations! I loved seeing this video and some wonderful faces from Detroit. Here’s wishing you all the best in the your new chapter – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

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