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Detroit Children’s Fund Elects Four New Board Members and Continues Investment in Quality Schools

Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF)—a nonprofit organization committed to ensuring that every child in Detroit has the opportunity to receive a quality education—has started the year with four additions to its roster of board members and a growing portfolio of investments.

Tony Barra, Tony Cervone, Wright Lassiter III and Matt Simoncini—have been elected to the DCF board, a group of prominent Detroit philanthropists. “We’re grateful to have these individuals join to our slate of leaders, committed to improving education for Detroit children. Each have displayed a deep commitment to Detroit and its children, and bring valuable experience from their service on other local and national boards,” DCF Board Chair KC Crain said.

Tony Barra is a retired technology consultant, whose expertise was focused on new business modeling and economic analysis. Barra also serves as co-chair of Eagles for Children at Meadowbrook Country Club. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University, and a master’s in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.

Tony Cervone is senior vice president, global communications at General Motors and oversees GM’s corporate giving activities. He is a 33-year veteran of the automotive industry. Cervone also serves on the boards of The LaGrant Foundation and Plank Center for Communications Leadership. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Central Michigan University and was inducted into the Central Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in November of 2017.

Wright Lassiter III is president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System. He is a seasoned health care executive with more than 25 years of experience working in large, complex health systems. An avid community leader, Lassiter has held volunteer positions at the United Way, Salvation Army and YMCA; and serves on the boards of American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, LeMoyne College, City Year Detroit, and YMCA-USA National Board of Directors. He has a master’s degree in health care administration from Indiana University, and a bachelor’s degree with honors in chemistry from LeMoyne College.

Matt Simoncini recently retired as president and chief executive officer of Lear Corporation. Simoncini also serves on the board of directors for the Wayne State University Foundation, Michigan Opera Theatre and The Parade Company. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Wayne State University.

“As we begin our work with the Detroit Public School Community District and the many non-profit charter schools in our city, strong leadership is critical to our success. The addition of these four individuals further bolsters our already talented and influential board,” says Jack Elsey DCF Executive Director. “We are united in our determination to ensure Detroit children have access to great schools.”

The Fund’s mission is to make high-potential investments to improve the quality of education in Detroit’s K-12 public schools. These investments expand successful schools, significantly improve lower performing schools, and discover and develop talented educators.

In 2017, DCF made its first investment in a high-performing charter school operator, New Paradigm for Education. The $5-million grant will help New Paradigm grow to accommodate more students, expanding quality school options in the city. New Paradigm high schools boast a 100 percent college acceptance rate. Its crown school, Detroit Edison Public School Academy, is the first and only Michigan charter school to be named a Michigan Exemplary Blue Ribbon School.

DCF also recently launched its first talent development program, DCF Team Fellows. The program is a partnership with the School Empowerment Network to cultivate teams of principals and school leaders. Leadership teams will be provided strategic direction and support as they focus on their school vision, build an inclusive school culture, raise academic expectations, and create positive momentum for their school community. The first cohort in the Team Fellows program includes Detroit Achievement Academy, Detroit Prep (both public charter schools) and Mumford Academy (a DPSCD school).

Detroit Children’s Fund will host its 2nd Annual Dinner on September 29th with Event Chairs Kim and Mark Reuss. Mark Reuss serves as executive vice president, global product development, purchasing and supply chain at General Motors Company.

“We’re excited about the progress that was made last year and are even more encouraged as we look ahead in 2018,” said Nick Karmanos, chief advancement officer for DCF. “There’s a broadly shared conviction that improving the city’s schools is critical to Detroit’s recovery, and a determination that together, we can ensure children have a path to a bright future. I could not be more proud to be a part of this work.”

Detroit Children’s Fund is a nonprofit organization that makes high-potential investments to expand successful schools, greatly improve lower performing schools and discover and develop talented educators so that one day every child in Detroit has the opportunity to receive an excellent education.

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