January 22, 2020
“Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research” Launches with Announcement Event
DETROIT – Detroit Future City (DFC) is announcing the opening of a new department within the organization, the Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research, which builds upon DFC’s significant portfolio of research and tracks economic equity in Detroit and the region.
The Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research will be introduced today before several hundred community leaders at DFC’s Equity Forum, which will feature a keynote by esteemed PolicyLink Founder in Residence Angela Glover Blackwell, one of the nation’s foremost leaders in racial and economic equity. The event also will include a panel discussion with local business and community leaders about the importance of economic equity in the region.
“Through DFC’s research, we have noted several startling economic inequities that are plaguing our region’s growth and the prosperity of its residents,” said Anika Goss, DFC’s executive director. “After three years of developing relevant and thought-provoking research, DFC realized we needed to strengthen this work to drive measurable change and impact.
“Through the formation of the Center, DFC will use evidence-based research and employ our engagement work to set benchmarks, track progress, involve stakeholders and, most importantly, hold our region accountable for achieving this critically important goal of economic equity,” Goss said.
DFC’s research has identified that only one-quarter of Detroit households are middle class, compared with 38 percent of the households in the region. Additionally, in Detroit, nearly 40 percent of residents live in areas of concentrated poverty, which is well above state and national averages. These statistics, coupled with the fact that over half of Detroit residents are renters, leaves the majority of the city’s population very vulnerable.
DFC received seed funding from the Hudson-Webber Foundation and The Kresge Foundation to support an intensive yearlong planning effort for the Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research. The primary objectives during the planning phase were to establish a common definition of economic equity; create an equity indicator dashboard; engage civic and community leaders, and residents, around the effort; and develop technology that will allow stakeholders to track indicators over time.
“The Detroit Future City framework released in 2012 identified assets that the community can build on and highlighted opportunities for creating jobs, fostering economic growth and ensuring vibrant, healthy neighborhoods,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program. “Kresge supported that planning effort and the establishment of Detroit Future City as an ongoing organization to steward that vision. Now the Center explicitly puts equity where it belongs at the center of our conversations and plans for the city’s continued revitalization.”
The nonprofit is in the process of hiring a director to lead the Center as a division of DFC, which also will have a resident-scholar program to attract national experts on equitable economic development to Detroit.
“The Hudson-Webber Foundation’s grant to support DFC is intended to build the research, data, stakeholder engagement, and advocacy capacity of the community economic development field within the city,” said Melanca Clark, president and CEO of Hudson-Webber Foundation. “DFC has consistently demonstrated that it is an active collaborator among the private, philanthropic, and public sectors, and Hudson-Webber views support for the Center as an important complement to the economic equity work the Foundation regularly supports to drive shared prosperity in Detroit, and as an investment that will help our region hold itself accountable to this goal.”
Over the last three years, DFC has released three major publications – “139 Square Miles,” “Growing Detroit’s African-American Middle Class,” and “The 2019 Detroit Reinvestment Index” – as well as a number of reports on transit, Detroit’s rental housing market, green infrastructure and vacant industrial sites.
“Our recent reports have allowed us to advance these recommendations in the Strategic Framework in the context of today’s Detroit, providing current data and relevant policy considerations,” said Goss. “This work is done to support our primary goal of empowering Detroiters with credible and accessible information so that they can serve as informed advocates for their community.”
DFC was formed in 2013 and officially became an independent nonprofit in 2016. The organization serves as a “think-and-do tank” with three main program areas: community and economic development, land use and sustainability and now the Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research.
For more information about the Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research and to track its progress through the planning effort, go to www.detroitfuturecity.com/thecenter.