Do it for Detroit is not just a clever name – it’s an investment in the individuals and initiatives responding rigorously to the real resource needs in neighborhoods.

This micro-grant program funds grassroots initiatives in five key areas: Education, Environment, Health, Hunger and Art. The categories are deliberately broad and the application deliberately short, in hopes that we can cast a wide net rather than provide a particular prescription for what the city needs.

The first grant competition, in the area of Education, will take place this Saturday, February 9th at 7:00pm at the Woodbridge Community Youth Center at 1200 W. Canfield (right between the Lodge and Trumbull). The event is free and promises to make for an inspiring evening, as everyone in attendance will have a chance to vote for which of the three finalists should receive the $3000, $1000 and $500 awards.

I could wax poetic about all 37 micro-grant applications we received — about how each brings a socially entrepreneurial approach to building bright futures for young people, with potential even greater than the obstacles they are trying to solve for — but there is certainly no substitute for hearing them tell their stories Saturday. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at what they’ve got cooking:

  • MotorCity Urban Summer Enrichment (MUSE). Detroit has the lowest high school graduation rate of any major city in the United States, and consequently, a small percentage of its young people go on to graduate from a four-year college or university. This monumental issue was the premise behind the founding of MotorCity Urban Summer Enrichment, an academic summer enrichment program, in the summer of 2009.
    • MUSE, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, was founded in Detroit, Michigan, by undergraduates at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and Denison University. One of the three co-founders was a former Detroit Public School student and knew first-hand of the great need to provide Detroit youth with academic enrichment and access to educational opportunities in order to both mitigate summer learning losses and strengthen the students’ social networks.
  • Detroit Food Academy Training. Michigan’s youth unemployment rate is the highest in the nation. This devastates the professional development of the 70,000 high school-aged youth in Detroit and separates youth from community engagement.
    • Detroit Food Academy Training is a collaboration between local high school students, food-based business, and neighborhood markets to promote food justice and build the local food economy in Detroit. The training offers a 20-week, 120-hour certificate program powered by three threads: Kitchen, Conversation, and Community. Students graduate with a polished food product, a certificate in food entrepreneurship, a network of potential employers, and acceptance into the program’s summer Entrepreneurship Camp.
  • $cholarship Detroit. Detroit schools lack the resources to steward their students successfully through the college-application and financial-aid process, jeopardizing the opportunity for capable, motivated students to access quality, affordable higher education. $cholarship Detroit aims to provide students with the educational and financial tools to succeed at the university level in four aspects:
    • Creating and presenting academically competitive students.
    • Guiding students through the scholarship application process in a meaningful and aggressive manner.
    • Provide students with the knowledge to navigate the financial-aid process to ensure that they are receiving the proper public support that they are entitled to.
    • Continue to support and motivate participants to be active in their community post high school graduation through service initiatives with Scholarship Detroit and other community organizations.

We look forward to seeing some of you on Saturday. Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to Ben Falik, Repair the World’s Manager of Detroit Service Initiatives, at ben@www.werepair.org.

Funding for the Di4D comes from the 2012 Pitch Ford DEtroit softball tournament.

More info: http://www.doitfordetroit.com/

The DI4D micro-grant competitions are managed by two Jewish community organizations:
CommunityNEXT: http://www.communitynxt.com/
Repair The World: http://www.werepair.org/

DI4D micro-grants are available to individuals, groups and organizations for programs in Detroit, Highland Park or Hamtramck that engage the general community in a meaningful way through volunteer service. Forthcoming events will be dedicated to hunger, the arts, health/nutrition and the environment.