The University of Detroit Mercy has been a key partner in our equitable development grantmaking. Here we are at their School of Architecture with a broad section of our grantees, including community development leaders and representatives of financial institutions.

“No matter how long you’ve been gone from Detroit, Detroit should always be a part of you— and you should always find ways to support your people.” Kevin Ryan, one of Ford Foundation’s senior program officers, knows the Motor City well: He’s led Ford’s grantmaking there since 2017, focusing on housing and community development, civic engagement, and youth opportunities.

A big part of Kevin’s work is figuring out how Detroit can recover from bankruptcy in an equitable way inclusive of all its residents. This means supporting many tireless community organizers, cultural leaders, and other changemakers across the city, as well as bringing them together to collaborate in new ways.

Here, Kevin shares recent photos of some of Ford’s local grantee partners and explains the impact they’re making citywide.

This was a team lunch with Henry Ford III, our board member based in Detroit. We were having a great conversation about our recent site visits. You can really see our camaraderie.

Four people sit around a table in front of a big glass window. Coffee cups, water bottles and open laptop computers are in front of them.

At the Skillman Foundation’s office discussing the importance of youth organizing in Detroit with them and the Kresge Foundation.

Alia Harvey Quinn is the executive director of FORCE Detroit; they co-hosted this meeting with the Hudson-Webber Foundation to discuss the community violence intervention work we’ve been supporting in Detroit. Alia is, to me, one of the best leaders in Detroit. She’s been able to build a coalition of citizen advocates, grassroots groups, and neighborhood organizations.

Sarida Scott is a professor at University of Detroit Mercy. She used to be a grantee of ours when she ran Community Development Advocates of Detroit, a citywide development advocacy group. Here we are at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture & Community Development.

Sonya Mays is the president of Develop Detroit, a citywide development organization. They build affordable housing in neighborhoods that have experienced decades of disinvestment.

A dark skinned man wearing a gray sweatshirt is speaking to two people in front of a house with a brown porch.

Dream of Detroit is a Muslim-centered community organization group that does a lot of different work: organizing, equitable development, advocating for property tax justice. This is Dawud Clark, Dream of Detroit’s property manager. He joined Dream of Detroit and put his blood, sweat, and tears into rehabbing the transitional house you see here—and now he’s a homeowner in the neighborhood! Today, he works with other returning citizens to help them achieve that same dream of being able to come back and have a beautiful home to live in.

Ammara Ansariis on the development team of Detroit Action, a group that works toward economic and social justice with Detroit residents. Here she is sharing a story about engaging with the community.

Here are some of the leaders of Dream of Detroit, including executive director Mark Crain. 

A tall dark-skinned woman with a gray shawl around her shoulders is holding a microphone in between tables where people are sitting a looking interested.

The Church of the Messiah hosted this conversation on equitable digital access. Talking here is Katie Hearn from the Detroit Community Technology Project; they developed the Equitable Internet Initiative, which we’ve been supporting for a number of years.

This was our meeting at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History about the state of arts and culture in Detroit.   Five of our grantee partners joined. Detroit’s Arts, Culture, and Entertainment department, which we support, was also represented. 

In Detroit, people feel positive about what we can achieve. Even though we have all these huge structural challenges, we’re not just grinding every day. There is space for joy.

We had dinner at the Muslim Center with Dream of Detroit and their partners. They were so, so generous with us.

A map of Africa seen through a red light filter. Superimposed is a map of the United States. The size of the United States is dwarfed by Africa.

Here’s a photo from the Black resilience history exhibit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History – a long time and deeply valued partner to the people of Detroit.

Featured Grantees