October 13, 2020
DETROIT – Detroit Future City (DFC), through collaboration and engagement with over 500 stakeholders from community members and leaders to national experts, has released a shared vision for economic equity in Detroit.
The vision is for an economically equitable Detroit in which, “all Detroiters are meeting their unique needs, prospering, and fully and fairly participating in all aspects of economic life within a thriving city and region.”
In the economic equity vision document, available on DFC’s website, the organization’s board of directors, comprising several of Detroit’s top economic, philanthropic and community leaders, calls the community to action, stating, “every day, Detroiters are experiencing the devastating results of systems that have failed us – systems that are embedded with racism and that create and deepen vast economic inequities that negatively impact growth and limit the potential of many residents. This is a moment for us to work together for the future of Detroit.”
During the past four years, DFC has developed a significant research portfolio providing layers of data that identifies the stark inequities in Detroit. This portfolio includes the recent “COVID-19: Future Resiliency Demands Greater Equity Today” report and the highly regarded 2019 study, “Growing Detroit’s African-American Middle Class.” DFC’s research shows Detroit’s median household income is nearly half ($31,000) of the median household income in the region ($60,500), and that 40 percent of Detroiters live in areas of concentrated poverty. It also found that Detroit’s unemployment rate for people ages 16 to 64 is 12 percent for African Americans but eight percent for whites.
“DFC has been focused on building a more resilient and equitable Detroit since the release of the 2012 Strategic Framework. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have increased awareness of the striking inequities across our region and deep disparities in Detroit,” said Anika Goss, DFC Executive Director. “The time is now—there has never been a greater sense of urgency from the community to address the inequities that exist between Detroit and the surrounding region.”
In January 2020, DFC launched the Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research (the Center) as a new department charged with evidence-based research, stakeholder engagement, and using an indicator dashboard to hold our region accountable for achieving economic equity. Over 300 people attended the launch and had the opportunity to share their thoughts and vision for economic equity in Detroit.
Over the summer, DFC built upon the community’s initial feedback from the launch and engaged in robust discussions with an additional 150-plus stakeholders, including Detroit youth, residents, regional community leaders, and national experts such as Brookings Institute and PolicyLink. These discussions focused specifically on developing this shared vision for economic equity in Detroit.
Tommie Obioha, a resident on Detroit’s northwest side, who participated in DFC’s engagement process, said, “the work of advancing economic equity in Detroit requires resident voices like my own, to be centered within the conversation. Residents must be meaningfully engaged, at the table challenging and collaborating with policymakers, philanthropy, community development organizations and non-profits. It is my hope that this initiative fully articulates the systemic inequities that have persisted in Detroit for decades, establishes accountability, and fosters transformational change in policy and practices.”
With the economic equity vision outlined, the next steps for the Center are to develop a set of baseline indicators to hold the region accountable and to track progress. The Center will also develop a web-based dashboard platform for the indicators to make sure the data are accessible and useable. The Center plans to release the indicators and dashboard in early 2021.
Community stakeholders will continue to play an important role in informing the next phases of the Center’s work on economic equity. The Center encourages anyone who would like to add their voice to the conversation to sign up at www.detroitfuturecity.com/center. The Center’s planning effort is funded by The Kresge Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase.
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.