News and reflections on Detroit’s next chapter

“How Much Do Foundations Really Give to Detroit?” Philantopic, Dec. 3, 2014

Foundation Center President Bradford K. Smith explains that there are at least three answers to the question posed in that headline, depending on how one interprets ‘give to Detroit’ and how the numbers are crunched:

These numbers are important for many reasons, not least of which is that they provide transparency to the tax-privileged form of giving known as philanthropy. Foundations are granted a tax exemption in exchange for their contribution to the public good, so it is not unreasonable for the public to want to know how they do so. But more important is what these numbers represent.

“Work in Detroit doesn’t end with grand bargain,” Detroit Free Press, Nov. 9, 2014.

Ford Foundation President Darren Walker reflects on the deal:

“Shirley Lightsey and Don Taylor are advocates for the city and its residents. They and thousands of their colleagues faced the tough choices on which the grand bargain hinged. And they made those tough choices. These city-makers — quiet but indefatigable leaders — were what the grand bargain was all about. And, for Detroit’s sake, we must never forget that.”

“How Detroit was reborn: The inside story of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy case,” Detroit Free Press, Nov. 9, 2014

“This is the backstory of how Detroit cleared mountains of debt accumulated over 50 years and emerged with a shot at restoring basic services for 685,000 city residents who deserve better....And, ultimately, it’s the story of how, one by one, like soldiers switching sides in the midst of battle, the major players and creditors at war with the city dropped their objections and joined a &#8220grand bargain” to save Detroit.”

“Finding $816 million, and fast, to save Detroit,” New York Times, Nov. 7, 2014

“My initial reaction was, this is a crazy idea,” Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, remembered thinking as he listened that afternoon. “Eight hundred million dollars from a group of foundations? I thought it was rather over the top in its boldness,” Mr. Walker said, adding of the mood in the room: “I think there was a collective gulp.”

“Behind Detroit’s ‘grand bargain’ to emerge from bankruptcy,” PBS Newshour, Nov. 7, 2014

DARREN WALKER: Detroit is now back in the starting blocks. It is positioned well for a great future. There’s uptick in employment, small business development. Many of the indicators of economic and community well-being are improving. The question now is, what does the future hold for Detroit?

“Foundation support is crucial in plan to save Detroit’s art and pensions,” Chronicle of Philanthropy, Nov. 4, 2014

“Though foundation leaders acknowledge that supporting a city’s pension system is an unusual form of philanthropy, they say they felt compelled to act to lessen the blow of pension-benefit cuts on Detroit workers and safeguard the museum’s remarkable collection. They also hoped to save Detroit from years of protracted bankruptcy litigation that they believe would have stalled the city’s revitalization efforts just as there were signs of progress.”

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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.