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College and Career Pathways, K-12 Education

Reviewing Detroit’s Good Neighborhoods

Ten years ago Carol Goss, then president & CEO of the Skillman Foundation, made a bold $100 million, 10-year commitment to improve conditions for children in six neighborhoods in Detroit where nearly one-third of the city’s youth population lived. The Skillman Good Neighborhoods — Brightmoor, Chadsey-Condon, Cody-Rouge, Northend, Osborn, and Southwest Detroit — were spread throughout the city, with varied populations, access to resources and community assets. It soon became apparent: “When you’ve seen one Good Neighborhood, you’ve seen ONE Good Neighborhood.”

The first years were spent in deep engagement with residents and nonprofit stakeholders as the potential of a resident-led, youth-focused community change initiative took root. Then the recession, auto industry collapse, foreclosure crisis and local political upheaval swept through the neighborhoods. Residents were challenged to maintain a stable life for their children. The Foundation, its partners, and community residents remained committed to the vision, while adapting strategies and movements in response to the ever-changing context.

Now, 10 years later, we have the opportunity to examine, reflect and build on what we’ve learned about working in place, with community, on behalf of children. National and local evaluators, under the direction of Prue Brown and Tom Burns have spent the last year reviewing reports, documents and data. Most importantly, they’ve taken this information to staff, partners, residents and youth, asking for input and reflection on what’s been accomplished.

The results will be shared through “Kids Matter Here: An Analytic Review of the 10-year Good Neighborhoods Initiative,” a series of reports that look closely at individual areas of investment: community leadership, youth development, education and safety. The reports will be published over the next several months, culminating with a synthesis report in early in 2017.

It is a privilege to have been at the Foundation throughout the 10 years, supporting staff, partners and community with data and information. I feel a strong personal responsibility to candidly, respectfully and skillfully reflect the work and lessons that have resulted from the deep commitment and hard work that the community, our partners and staff have invested. Especially close to my heart is the Osborn community — home to my immigrant family from 1950-1990.

We look forward to sharing and learning from others as we release the reports and engage with anyone interested in improving communities so that young people — our most important resources and our future — have the opportunities they need and deserve.

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