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Detroit Development News

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Art, design, and urbanism combine for 'groundbreaking' MFA program in Midtown

A confluence of art, design, and urbanism is coming to Detroit thanks to a new master's degree program at Lawrence Technological University's Detroit Center for Technology + Design in Midtown. Officials are touting the Master of Fine Arts program as groundbreaking and a first for the region.

The Social Practice master's degree looks at how art and design can positively impact public space in our communities, says Steve Coy, the Lawrence Tech assistant professor who developed the program.

Coy estimates there are only eleven such programs in the United States, with the first known Social Practice program developed at the California College of the Arts in 2005. Most other Social Practice programs are located on the east and west coasts of the country, with the nearest known program being offered at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

While Coy says that people have been using art, design, and urbanism to affect positive change in Detroit for years, a more formal and institutional approach can further enhance such efforts.

"This will allow us to connect people so that conversations and movements can unify, to give us a point to rally around," says Coy. "Universities are open source networks. We can share what works, what doesn't work, and make it better so people aren't acting in isolated pockets."

The program will cover a broad spectrum of ideas, from city planning and tactical urbanism to street art and public persuasion. It's a win-win, says Coy, as communities get well-thought out solutions to planning issues while students get on-the-ground training for future professions.

He adds that the program should appeal to those interested in planning, design, and the arts.

Coy first started teaching at Lawrence Tech in 2011, though he's probably best known for the Hygienic Dress League, the public art project he co-founded with his wife Dorota. The Coys also co-founded Wolf Moon Mixers.

Enrollment for the Social Practice MFA program is now open. More information is available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Detroit-based web series broadcasts from downtown, focuses on celebs and sneakerheads

A new web-based TV series broadcasting from the One Campus Martius building in downtown Detroit debuted this month. StockX TV documents the sneakerhead subculture, the collectors of limited edition and otherwise hard-to-find and valuable gym shoes. The company is billing StockX TV as the only program to focus exclusively on the re-sell sneaker market.

The premiere episode follows internationally-renowned DJ Steve Aoki on a "Cribs-esque tour" of his Las Vegas home, featuring a sneaker collection worth over $100,000. Episodes will debut in conjunction with the release of anticipated sneaker brands, with episode one covering the launch of the Air Jordan 4 Kaws and Air Jordan 1 Royal shoes.

The broadcast studio features an old ESPN SportsCenter desk and views of downtown Detroit, Windsor, and the Detroit River.

StockX TV is an extension of StockX, an online marketplace for high-demand and limited edition products. The company, which launched in February 2016, utilizes a live bid/ask method that can be found in the world stock markets. StockX was founded by Josh Luber and Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert.

"StockX TV represents an important step forward for both our brand and how we think about and use data and content," StockX CEO and host of StockX TV Josh Luber says in a statement. "There are only so many ways a sneakerhead can engage with sneakers, but data, which has always been a core part of our DNA, is a way to expand those opportunities."

Earlier this year, StockX announced a $6 million round of funding highlighted by a number of celebrity investors, including famed Detroit rapper Eminem. Other notable investors in the Detroit-based company include the actor Mark Wahlberg, former President and Vice Chairman of AOL Ted Leonsis, and NFL player Joe Haden.

Watch StockX TV online here.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

New guitars made from pieces of the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters

In some sense, the guitars made by Wallace Detroit Guitars are over 300 years old. 

Since 2014, Wallace Detroit Guitars has been transforming salvaged wood into electric guitars. The company recently released the Firehouse Series, a new limited-edition line of guitars made of maple and pine from the old Detroit Fire Department Headquarters downtown. Mark Wallace, president of the instrument maker, estimates that the wood comes from trees that were growing in Detroit as far back as the 1700s.

Wallace has used wood from the David Whitney Building, the Theodore Levin Courthouse, and the Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center to build his guitars. A call from his friends at the Architectural Salvage Warehouse tipped him off about a new load of wood that arrived from the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters.

"These guitars have a great story and they look great, but they're also great to play," says Wallace. "It's like a Cadillac. They're great to look at but they're also great to drive."

The building at 250 W. Larned St. downtown was built in 1929, though the Detroit Fire Department had operated at the site since the 1840s. In 2013, DFD left their longtime home to share a headquarters with the Detroit Police Department on the western edge of downtown.

The wood reclaimed from the old headquarters is a result of it being converted into the Detroit Foundation Hotel, a boutique hotel complete with over 100 rooms, a bar, restaurant, and even a "podcast studio." The hotel purchased one of the Firehouse Series guitars for display.

The limited edition series features twelve guitars, ten of the company's flagship single-cutaway design and two of its new offset body shape design. The guitars are built by hand; even the electric pick-ups are hand-wound.

"We want to be part of the city's long history of people that know how to make things," says Wallace.

The Firehouse Series guitars can be found online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

New Matrix Head Start Center at Spirit of Hope offers children unique learning opportunities

A partnership between Matrix Human Services and Spirit of Hope Church has resulted in the opening of a new Head Start Center, providing children ages 3 to 5 years old with free preschool education while also helping to restore and preserve parts of a historic Detroit church.

The Matrix Head Start Center opened in the building this past March. Matrix and Spirit of Hope partnered to bring the Head Start Center up to code, providing much needed investment in and upgrades for the old church.

According to Nolana Nobles Bandy, assistant director for Matrix Head Start, the new Head Start location is "right where it needed to be," and that the Spirit of Hope location provides children with a more natural learning environment. Spirit of Hope's community garden and animals, which includes a pig and a number of chickens, will be used to teach children and their families about healthy eating habits.

Nobles Bandy also believes that the historic nature of the building—its sanctuary was built in 1892 and its annex was built in 1926—is a much better setting for learning when compared to a modern "cookie cutter" building that feels more like an office than a school. She speaks of lighting that has a beautiful glow and the echo of the children's steps, bouncing off the old architecture. "It's something different that sparks curiosity," she says.

Nobles Bandy, who has a Ph.D. in International Psychology and System Design, sees the church as a more comfortable setting for adults, too.

"People act differently when in a church compared to a clinic. It's a natural setting for expressing oneself," she says. "It's like a tree in the yard providing shade. People approach it on their own time when they need it."

The Head Start Center is currently recruiting children for classes, which is free and available to children from any zip code. Enrollment and more information can be found at www.matrixheadstart.org.

Spirit of Hope Church is located 1519 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Debut duathlon to take place at (and benefit) Rouge Park

The first-ever Rouge-A-Thlon has been announced for April 22, 2017. The duathlon will wind runners and bikers through Rouge Park on Detroit's west side—at 1,184 acres, it's the city's largest park. Money raised will benefit Friends of Rouge Park and its efforts to maintain and improve the park's trails.

Tour de Troit is organizing for the event, which will take participants through a 5K trail run into a 10K street bike ride, and finishing with a second 5K trail run.

"There are so few duathlons in the Detroit area," Vittoria Katanski, director of Tour de Troit, says in a statement. "I think we're really filling a need for active people who want a jump start on summer training."

Registration is capped at 250 people. There are two tiers of registration, VIP and standard. The VIP tier is limited to 50 people and costs $140. It includes a Tour de Troit runner's towel, commemorative t-shirt, and premium placement on the run-to-bike transition. The standard tier costs $70 and includes a commemorative t-shirt. Registration for two-member relay teams is also available.

In addition to the commemorative gear, registered participants will be greeted with beer, Amicci's Pizza, and a finisher medal at the end of the race.

Rouge-A-Thlon running and biking partners RUNDetroit and Wheelhouse Hamtramck are hosting a free brick training workout on April 1 at the Wheelhouse Hamtramck storefront. Registration for the free event is available online.

Proceeds raised from the event will go to Friends of Rouge Park, a non-profit advocacy group for the park. The money will go toward park improvements, including trails.

"It's such a scenic, beautiful park, the runners really enjoy the views and the winding roads," says Katanski.

Registration for the Rouge-A-Thlon is available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Knight and Fisher Foundations grant $250,000 to nearly 40 community groups throughout Detroit

Community leaders and organizations in Detroit have been emboldened recently with the announcement of two grants totaling $250,000. The grants will support community leaders with professional training and development as they work on their community revitalization efforts.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is contributing an additional $150,000 to its Nonprofit Capacity Training program, which it started with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan in 2014. The Knight Foundation has already granted $515,000 to the program.

The organizations set to receive the Nonprofit Capacity Training grants include Allied Media Projects, College for Creative Studies, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Focus:HOPE, Global Detroit, Jefferson East Inc., Michigan Community Resources, M.O.S.E.S., and Southwest Solutions.

"Ensuring that leaders who care about the community have the skills and resources they need to advance its growth is essential to the success of our city," Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit, said in a statement. "The organizations that will benefit from this program strive to foster neighborhood connections, expand opportunities for Detroiters, and increase civic engagementby making them stronger we can help advance these goals."

The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation is investing $100,000 in 28 community organizations in Brightmoor. These include Brightmoor Alliance, Brightmoor Artisans Collective, Brightmoor Maker Space, Brightmoor Redford Aldersgate, Children of the Rising Sun Empowerment Center, City Covenant Church, City YearDetroit, Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, Crystal Swann Child Care, Development Centers, Don Bosco Hall, Everybody Ready, Greening of Detroit, Kristy’s Early Childhood Development Centers, Leland Community Affairs, Michigan Community Resources, Neighbors Building Brightmoor, Sidewalk Detroit, St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center, Urban Links Village, Village of Shiny Stars, Voices for Earth Justice, and a cohort training for four block clubs.

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is administering and managing the grants.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

March development news round-up: Detroit Riverfront takes center stage

March has been a busy month for the Detroit River and its riverfront. Let's catch up on some of the biggest development news stories from the past several weeks.

The month started with a bang with the March 1st announcement of a new plan for the east riverfront, one that includes more public access and less private development. Officials at the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation touted their new plan, including three sites south of Atwater Street that were originally slated for private development and will now be the sites of three new public parks. Streetscape improvements and two new "Dequindre Cut"-style greentways are also part of the plan.

"The riverfront belongs to all Detroiters," Maurice D. Cox, director of the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department, said at the time. "Thanks to the involvement of hundreds of residents, we have principles that frame an international riverfront that can be accessed and enjoyed by all."

While public access will be improved, there are still plenty of opportunities for private development, including nearly 12 acres of riverfront real estate. Syncora, one of the city's biggest bondholders during its municipal bankruptcy, is seeking developers for two major plots of land, an 8.9 acre site at Chene and Atwater streets, and a 2.75 acre site at Rivard and Atwater streets. The Bermuda-based Syncora acquired the land as a result of a bankruptcy-related settlement.

It was also announced this month that the Gordie Howe International Bridge will feature bicycle and pedestrian access, allowing those traveling between the United States and Canada the opportunity to do so by foot or by bike. This is something not available at either the Ambassador Bridge or the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge is estimated to be completed in 2022.

For more on the pedestrian access across the International Bridge, read Jon Hartig's column in Model D

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Placemaking in the city: Kite festival, innovation center, sustainable living, and public art

A spate of exciting placemaking projects have been announced this month, each seeking to improve city life through placemaking and community-building practices and projects.

Each are the targets of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's placemaking initiative, Public Spaces Community Places. The projects are eligible for matching grants from the MEDC, should they reach their intended crowdfunding goals. The campaigns are being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

The inaugural Detroit Kite Festival is planned for Belle Isle on July 16, 2017 and organizers are hoping to raise $7,500 to help fund the event. Festivities include on-site kite-making classes, kite culture educational programming, and performances from professional kite flyers. Free transportation for 150 Detroit children will be provided and, beginning in April, several months of kite workshops and programming are planned throughout city neighborhoods.

The Detroit Kite Festival has until April 9 to reach its goal.

Detroit-based non-profit Life Remodeled is seeking to transform the neighborhood surrounding Central High School through a series of placemaking projects that include blight removal and home repair campaigns. Having signed the lease on the historic Durfee Elementary-Middle School building, Life Remodeled is raising $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to help transform Durfee into the Community Innovation Center. The community center will offer a number of services, including business acceleration workshops, maker spaces, and recreation opportunities. Funds raised through the campaign will help with construction, among other costs.

Life Remodeled has until April 14 to reach its goal.

Over on the city's west side, a group of architecture students from the Netherlands has launched the Motown Movement, an exercise in sustainable and green living. The group is attempting to raise $50,000 to transform 1995 Ford St. into a multi-purpose property, including a community resource center, sustainable living demonstration space and training center, and a second-floor residential unit for a Detroit family that has lost its home to tax foreclosure. A community garden is also planned.

The Motown Movement has until April 18 to reach its goal.

In Grandmont Rosedale, the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation is looking to raise $10,000 to help fund its beautification efforts along Grand River Avenue, the main commercial thoroughfare running through the area. The GRANDcorridor Beautification Project will use the money raised to paint three 3,000 st. ft. murals on the sides of local businesses as well as plant 31 new trees along the east side of the avenue.

The GRANDcorridor Beautification Project has until May 13 to reach its goal.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Small business program encourages entrepreneurs to apply for financial and educational assistance

It's once again that time of year for area entrepreneurs to take a shot at winning a helping hand from a Detroit small business booster program, be it financially or otherwise. The application window for the eighth round of Motor City Match closes April 1, 2017.

The small business program offers entrepreneurs the chance to win cash awards, landlord-tenant matchmaking opportunities, and design, permitting, and business plan assistance. $500,000 is awarded to small businesses every quarter.

"Detroit is experiencing a boom in entrepreneurship, with opportunities for long-time Detroiters as well as people coming from across the country," says Michael S. R. Rafferty, Detroit Economic Growth Corp. VP for Small Business. "We're glad that Detroit has become an attractive place to open up shop, and we're proud to have created a program that gives Detroiters a chance to participate in their city's comeback."

The list of Motor City Match winners is long and varied, including co-working spaces, boutiques, a craft cafe, a wellness center, a media technology school, and many others.

Mikiah Westbrooks owns one of those businesses, the Brix Wine & Charcuterie Boutique. The bistro is expected to open in an old West Village bank building later this spring. Westbrooks won a $32,000 matching grant from a previous round of the contest, among other services.

"The people at Motor City Match make sure you have everything you need to be successful," says Westbrooks. "They helped me finish my business plan, build out the space for my business, and have been an incredibly helpful resource for me as I am going through this process. I would never be as close to opening my boutique as I am without their assistance."

Click here to apply for the eighth round of Motor City Match.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Corktown-based bicycle shop to open second location in West Village

Metropolis Cycles, the Corktown bicycle shop that opened in 2015, is opening a second storefront in the West Village neighborhood. Metropolis Cycles East will offer new and used bikes, locks, tires, and other accessories, and a full service repair facility.

While construction at the shop's permanent home of 8116 Kercheval St. won't be completed until this summer, a pop-up location at 8044 Kercheval St. will serve as the temporary location of Metropolis, a seasonal business that needs to be open in time for the warmth of spring. They'll move into the permanent location later this year.

A kick-off party for Metropolis Cycles East is being held this Friday, March 10, from 7 to 11 p.m. Snacks and refreshments will be provided by the nearby Craft Work restaurant. The shop will assume its regular hours of operation11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Sundaythe following Saturday, March 11.

Later in the year on May 6, Metropolis will throw a two year anniversary party at their original Corktown location, planning a bike race, bike-related tattoos, and music for the celebration.

When co-owners Shayne O'Keefe and Ted Sliwinski first decided to open the original shop, O'Keefe says he recognized a need for more bike shops in Detroit. The second location is the culmination of that idea.

A number of factors went into the new shop's location, says O'Keefe, who lives in the nearby Poletown neighborhood. West Village is located near Belle Isle Park, a major destination for the region's bicyclists. It's also become a popular spot for new businesses and residential developments opening outside of greater downtown.

"We're trying to go where the people are but also far enough away from other bike-related businesses," says O'Keefe. "Between downtown and the Grosse Pointes, there's a seven mile gap between bike shops and there's a lot of people in that gap. We have a lot of respect for others in the bike business and don't want to overlap."

The Metropolis Cycles East pop-up is located at 8044 Kercheval St. in Detroit.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Rock and roll pie shop re-opens in Detroit with own space

Dangerously Delicious Pies is once again serving their sweet and savory pies in the city of Detroit. The rock and roll pie shop had a soft opening in the newly redeveloped Strathmore Apartments building this past Saturday, March 4. It will remain open with regular hours, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

It's been over six months since the pie shop was open in Detroit. They first served their pies out of the now-demolished Comet Bar. Dangerously Delicious Pies then operated out of the kitchen of Third Street Bar for several years before closing up shop there in the summer of 2016.

In the months leading up to the end of that relationship, Midtown Detroit, Inc. reached out to the pie shop and offered to help Dangerously Delicious Pies find a space of their own. The neighborhood group didn't want to see the pie shop leave the area and ended up financing part of the build-out of the new space.

Don Duprie, co-owner of Dangerously Delicious Pies and also a River Rouge fireman and accomplished songwriter and musician, says the company is thankful for the help. The new storefront has an old school vibe that includes subway tiles and a checkerboard floor. He hopes the new pie shop will be a place that's comfortable for everyone.

"I think it's great," says Duprie. "It's between the Magic Stick and the Old Miami. It's near Woodward. There's a lot of history down there."

In addition to pies, Duprie and his team are planning on hosting live music once a week. A small one- or two-person stage has been constructed. A planned grand opening party, perhaps in partnership with new neighbors Pure Detroit, should occur in early April and feature live performances from Duprie and friends.

Last year, Dangerously Delicious Pies opened a bakery in River Rouge and storefront in Wyandotte, which will remain open.

Dangerously Delicious Pies is located at 70 W. Alexandrine St. in Detroit.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative seeks funds to build America's first sustainable "agrihood"

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) is looking to strengthen its mission in Detroit's North End neighborhood with the transformation of an abandoned three-story apartment building into a community center. Should MUFI successfully raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will provide a $50,000 matching grant.

MUFI has been steadily working toward its goal of building "America's First Sustainable Urban Agrihood" since purchasing land in the North End in 2011. The planned community center, which would offer gathering space and nutritional and educational programming, would join a two-acre urban farm, 200-tree fruit orchard, children's sensory garden, water harvesting cistern, and more. A healthy food cafe and commercial kitchen is also planned.

A non-profit made up of volunteers, MUFI provides more than 300 varieties of produce to approximately 2,000 households, churches, and food pantries within a two-square mile radius of the farm. The produce is free.

The crowdfunding campaign and matching grant is part of MEDC's Public Spaces, Community Places placemaking initiative. MUFI has until Sunday, April 2 to meet or exceed the goal, which is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity crowdfunding platform.

Auburn Hills-based automotive suppler BorgWarner kicked off the campaign with a $10,000 donation.

"The Public Spaces, Community Places placemaking grant is a creative way for supporters of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative to have a hand in helping build America's first sustainable urban agrihood located in Detroit's lower North End community," Tyson Gersh, president and co-founder of MUFI, says in a statement. "Through the program, we can expand our agricultural campus with donations used to fund the restoration of a long-vacant building into the neighborhood's most sustainable Community Center along with a new healthy food café."

Click here to view the status of the crowdfunding campaign.

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is located at 7432 Brush St. in Detroit.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Detroit to be celebrated at international design festival in Saint-Étienne, France

Having stolen away for a fifteen minute phone call from Saint-Étienne, France, Anya Sirota says she's glad for a brief respite from the noise that accompanies the preliminary stages of the Saint-Étienne Design Biennale. A lot of work goes into setting up the a month-long international design festival that welcomed more than 250,000 visitors last year.

The City of Detroit has been named Guest of Honor for the festival, which has invited three Detroit-based design groups to showcase their works and their city to international audiences. Detroit design groups Creative Many, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, and Akoaki have each brought their installations, ideas, and people to the festival, which takes place March 9 through April 9.

Detroit was made Guest of Honor as a result of it being named the first and only American UNESCO Creative City of Design in 2015.

"It's a huge honor for us," says Sirota, a principal at the architecture and design firm Akoaki and an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. "So much of what we're doing has been off the radar. It's not institutional work, it's in local fields and garages."

The Akoaki team works in the city's North End. And not only are they bringing the installations they've created throughout the neighborhood, they're bringing part of the neighborhood itself. Nearly 30 participants in the installations, from local builders to musicians, are traveling to take part in the festival.

Fundraising efforts as well as help from organizations like the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation have made it possible for so many to travel to Saint-Étienne. It's been no small feat. For a number of the travelers, the trip marks the first time that they've received passports or set foot on a plane, says Sirota.

"There are lots of times where 'experts' descend into Detroit, but we wanted to turn to the experts in the neighborhoods."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Historic building preservation and restoration open house scheduled at Hug Factory in Eastern Market

"I always saw myself as a steward of these historic buildings. But I've found I'm at my best when helping others be stewards."

That's what Amy Swift told Model D in 2016 upon the opening of the Hug Factory, the headquarters for her Building Hugger renovation firm. The company specializes in historic window restoration and repair.

Swift continues her mission with the announcement of the second annual Building Hugger Community Mingle. She's partnered with three local historic preservation organizations for the event, which will offer guests a chance to learn about both restoration techniques as well as public policy issues affecting preservation today.

Brick + Beam Detroit, Preservation Detroit, and Michigan Historic Preservation Network will provide information on current preservation policy issues, including the state of the threatened federal historic tax credit. The organizations will then lead a postcard-writing session to advocate for the endangered tax credit.

Swift will lead a window restoration demonstration while opening up her shop to the public, allowing guests to visit employee work stations for first-hand interactions. Swift plans to open Hugs Hardware in the building, which will sell hard-to-find restoration supplies.

Michigan Women's Foundation and the Build Institute will also be on hand to provide information on their programming for entrepreneurs.

"Informing our community about the preservation policies and best practices that affect property owners in Detroit every day is core to our mission at Building Hugger," says Swift. "We're excited to be able to bring in our partners for a shared advocacy day while also celebrating our achievements and giving thanks to our supporters for helping us through such a big year. It'll be a fun afternoon."

The Building Hugger Community Mingle is free and open to the public. RSVPs are not required but are encouraged, which can be done here. The event is Saturday, Feb. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Building Hugger is located in Eastern Market at 3036 Chene St.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Free after-school program for Detroit poets to expand and enhance services with sixth site

Detroit's Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, located at the intersection of McDougall and Larned streets on the city's east side, will soon receive a Citywide Poets site. The InsideOut Literary Arts Project's Citywide Poets is a free after-school program for teens.

Citywide Poets uses the written and spoken word to encourage teens to tell their story, examine the challenges they face, and explore solutions, says the organization. The program offers students relationships with artistic mentors and the opportunity for performances and publication.

According to InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO), over 90 percent of students participating in the program go on to attend post-secondary institutions.

The new Citywide Poets site is the sixth for iO. It was made possible by a recently-announced $150,000 three-year grant from the Dresner Foundation.

Suma Rosen, iO Executive Director, says the organization is thrilled to have the support of the Dresner Foundation.

"Aside from improving literary skills and boosting college readiness, this program gives participants the space to embody their full selves; the power that comes from discovering one's voice through poetry and performance is truly transformational."

In addition to the new Citywide Poets site, the Dresner grant will enable iO to improve and expand other components of its creative arts programming. Among the improvements include the planned bolstering of the Youth Poet Laureate and Ambassadors program, which nurtures both creative and civic engagement. The statewide and Detroit-based youth poetry festival Louder than a Bomb will also be expanded.

Other Citywide Poets locations include the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, Detroit School for the Arts, Communication & Media Arts High School, Detroit Institute of Technology at Cody, and Detroit International Academy for Young Women.

"Citywide Poets fosters artistic excellence for youth, offers pathways for personal and professional development, and utilizes writing and performance as a method for community engagement," says Associate Director Alise Alousi.

Registration for the Citywide Poets program can be completed in person, by mail, and online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
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