Knight Foundation and Ford Foundation give $2.5 million to support Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund

DETROIT— June 1, 2017 — Detroit’s effort to focus targeted, strategic reinvestment in city neighborhoods has received a significant boost from support awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Knight Foundation has invested $1.5 million over three years in the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, a public-private partnership between the City of Detroit and Invest Detroit. This initiative is working to show that neighborhood redevelopment can be done in financially sound, sustainable and inclusive ways in the city. The Ford Foundation, as part of its larger commitment to an equitable revitalization, has awarded $1 million to the effort.

Initially, the neighborhood reinvestment is focused on three areas of the city: the West Village on the city’s lower east side, the Vernor Highway corridor east of Clark Park in southwest Detroit and the Livernois-McNichols area of northwest Detroit.

Developments in these neighborhoods include a mix of new commercial and residential projects, rehabilitation of existing residential properties and, in the Fitzgerald Neighborhood on the northwest side, a quarter-square-mile of blight-free residential homes with new green recreation space, community gardens, orchards and a walking path connecting the University of Detroit Mercy to Marygrove College.

“We are deeply appreciative of the commitment of Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation to Detroit’s strategic plans for revitalizing neighborhoods that suffered disinvestment for too long,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “The foundations’ leaders understand, as Invest Detroit does, that for the city’s recovery to be sustained and inclusive, it must focus on the needs of longtime residents who never gave up on the city. We’re making the case that neighborhood reinvestment works in Detroit.”

The Strategic Neighborhood Fund is a more than $30 million public-private partnership that is part of a broader vision for stabilizing Detroit neighborhoods with targeted reinvestment including new and rehabilitated mixed-income housing and new commercial developments designed to enhance neighborhoods for existing residents and draw new residents and businesses. The redevelopment efforts are driven by the needs of neighborhood residents who participate in extensive community meetings that guide the city’s planning.

“Building a network of thriving neighborhoods in Detroit is essential to attracting and keeping talent in the city, and creating new economic opportunities for all,” said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit. “The Strategic Neighborhood Fund will help support the growth of more small businesses in Detroit, bring people of different backgrounds and income levels together, and create more of the kind of places where people want to live.”

“We are pleased to partner in this potentially game-changing initiative to ensure the revitalization of the city of Detroit is shared across neighborhoods and to all those committed to the continued ascension of this great city,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “I commend the Mayor and his team for understanding the importance of capital flowing to all corners of the city for a true resurgence and equitable recovery.”

Detroit’s goal is to expand the neighborhood redevelopment and community planning to an additional seven areas, spanning more than 50 neighborhoods, over the next three years. In addition, Invest Detroit will target seven microdistricts within these areas in a more focused fashion.

The support further builds on the $10 million previously awarded to the Strategic Neighborhood Fund by JP Morgan Chase and the Hudson-Webber Foundation. It also adds to funding to the city of Detroit to implement the national Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, a partnership between Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and The JPB Foundation. The initiative aims to counter economic and social fragmentation by revitalizing and connecting public spaces — parks, plazas, trails, libraries.

The investment aligns with previous support from Knight Foundation and Ford Foundation for economic development initiatives in Detroit including the New Economy Initiative, Motor City Match and the Detroit Development Fund.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, the uses of digital technology in the delivery of news and information, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers including the Detroit Free Press. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

About Invest Detroit

Invest Detroit is a key leader in the revitalization of the City of Detroit. Actively investing in the city for over twenty years, Invest Detroit is a financial catalyst serving the Detroit community with over $230M in capital and tax credit allocation under management. With funds spanning real estate development, commercial lending and venture capital, Invest Detroit is a 501(c)(3) Community Development Financial Institution developing innovative solutions to economic development challenges in this region. Working in collaboration with private, public and philanthropic partners, Invest Detroit promotes the creation of jobs, density and better quality of life for underserved communities.

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.