CLICK HERE: To Register for youth resources summit.


DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION work with the youth of Detroit?
If so, you will want to attend the second annual Detroit Youth Resource Summit, sponsored by the Better Detroit Youth Movement and ARISE Detroit!
The summit will be held Thursday, June 22, from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. in the Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick Conference Room of the Samaritan Center, 5555 Conner, Detroit, 48213. The event is free and open to the public.
Refreshments will be served.

The summit’s purpose is to bring together groups that assist youth in everything from education to recreational programs. This year’s program will have a special emphasis on conflict resolution programs, said Reuben Gordon, co-founder and co-director of the Better Detroit Youth Movement.
He is also the founder of the Detroit Resource Alert Project, or RAP, aimed at making youth aware of the many community resources available to help them in their life decisions, academic and other needs.

“We think it’s important to make youth aware of the many efforts to help them,” Gordon said. “We expect this to be a great networking, information sharing and collaboration building event.”

Summit participants are encouraged to bring and distribute material about their organizations. A number of information tables will be made available.
“We want to improve the quality of life for our children,” Gordon said.



(Caption Information) 8th Annual Arise Detroit Neighborhood, All over Detroit. August 2, 2014, Detroit, Mi.

(Caption Information) 8th Annual Arise Detroit Neighborhood, All over Detroit. August 2, 2014, Detroit, Mi.

GOFUNDME logoThe 11th annual Neighborhoods Day is just around the corner (August 5, 2017) and we are seeking financial assistance to help with underwriting hardware store vouchers for Detroit neighborhood group beautification projects and senior citizen clean up/paint projects.  Please continue reading how we started, posted below by ARISE Detroit’s operations officer, Crystal Staffney. Click here to learn more and contribute


ARISE Detroit Neighborhood Clean Up

Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD)

ARISE Detroit Neighborhood Clean Up

Saturday, August 6, 2015

10:00am – 2:00pm

Groups that wish to adopt a school, should email their selection to info@arisedetroit.orrg, or phone, 313-921-1955.

9th Annual Arise Detroit Neighborhood Days. Detroit, Mi, August 1, 2015

9th Annual Arise Detroit Neighborhood Days. Detroit, Mi, August 1, 2015

  1. School Name: Ann Arbor Trail Magnet Middle School

School Address: 7635 Chatham, 48239

Name of Principal/Contact Person:  Darron Jackson

Contact Number:  313-910-5739 OR 313-274-8560

Grades Served:  PreK-8

Project Request: Painting Trim of exterior windows and school trim and landscaping

Number of volunteers needed: 20

Resources needed to complete the request: Paint, brushes, drop cloths, paint cleaner, rollers, pans, etc. and shovels and plants (assorted annuals and perennials)


  1. School Name:  John J. Bagley Elementary

School Address: 8100 Curtis. 48221

Name of Principal/Contact Person:  Christa Reeves, Principal

Contact Number: 313.494.7175

Grades Served: Pre-K-6th

Project Request: Beautification project

Number of volunteers needed: 5-8

Resources needed to complete the request: shovels and plants (assorted annuals and perennials)


  1. School Name:  Bennett Elementary School    

School Address:  2111 Mullane Detroit, MI 48209

Name of Principal/Contact Person:  Dina Binomo

Contact Number:  313-849-3585 (school) or 313-330-5396 (cell)

Grades Served:  PreK – 5

Project Request: Graffiti removal, beautification project

Number of volunteers needed: 5-8

Resources needed to complete the request: Graffiti removal (gorilla snoot); rags, scrub brushes, shovels and plants


FYI  2nd  If possible– Project Request: Bordering up abandon building

Number of volunteers needed: 10-15

Resources needed to complete the request: Boards for windows, brooms, gloves, bags and broken glass removal receptacles.


  1. Name of School: Brewer Academy

School Address: 18025 Brock, 48205

Name of Principal/Contact Person: Micrael Linton

Contact Number: 313-244-5607

Grades Served: K-8

Project Request: Painting   Beautification Project (exterior) and repainting the lines in parking lot.

Number of volunteers needed: 5-10

Resources needed to complete the request: Paint, brushes/rollers, flowers (perennials) and bags etc.

  1. School Name: Durfee

School Address: 2470 Collingwood, 48206

Name of Principal/Contact Person: Ricardo Martin

Contact Number: 313-252-3070 or 313-623-0056

Grades Served: PreK-8

Project Requested: Painting of Lockers Vibrant Colors: Orange, Yellow, Light Green, Sky Blue, Red, Purple

Number of Volunteers Needed: 35

Materials Needed: Paint colors listed above; brushes, drop cloths, tape, rags, paint removal for cleaning, water for drinking

Attend: 7/14 Kickoff: YES


  1. School Name: Golightly Education Center

School Address:  5536 St. Antoine

Name of Principal/Contact Person:    Sherill Hobbs/Shirita Hightower

Contact Number:   313-494-2538

Grades Served:  PreK-8

Project Request: Painting

Number of volunteers needed: 20

Resources needed to complete the request: Paint, brushes, drop cloths, paint cleaner, rollers, pans, etc.


  1. School Name: Gompers

School Address:  14450 Burt Rd.

Name of Principal/Contact Person:   Bobbie Posey-Millner

Contact Number:    313-494-7495

Grades Served:  PreK-8

Project Request: Painting   Stairwells (walls and stairs), walls in hallway, lunchroom locker rooms main office and attendance agents office; Window cleaning, high dusting, lockers washed inside and out.

Number of volunteers needed: 20

Resources needed to complete the request: Paint, brushes/rollers, flowers and cleaning supplies


  1. School Name: Marshall, Thurgood Elementary School

School Address:  15531 Linwood Street

Name of Principal/Contact Person:   Sharon Lee/Craig McKee

Contact Number:   313-494-8820

Grades Served:  PreK-8

Project Request: Painting lockers and some walls

Number of volunteers needed: 25+

Resources needed to complete the request: Paint, brushes, drop cloths, paint cleaner, rollers, pans, etc.


  1. School Name: Twain  School for Scholars

School Address:  12800  Visger Street

Name of Principal/Contact Person:   Momtaz Haque

Contact Number:   313-386-5530

Grades Served:  PreK-8

Project Request: Painting   Exterior doors (white) and Beautification Project (grounds).

Number of volunteers needed: 5-10

Resources needed to complete the request: Paint, brushes/rollers, flowers (annuals & perennials) and bags etc.


  1. School Name: Mason Elementary School

School Address: 19955 Fenelon Street, Detroit MI, 48234-2273

Name of Principal/Contact Person: Omega Mostyn

Contact Number: 313-204-3647

Grades Served: PreK-8

Project Request: Painting   Exterior doors and Beautification Project (grounds). Number of volunteers needed: 20


  1. School Name: Young, Coleman A.

School Address:  15771 Hubbell Street

Name of Principal/Contact Person:   Melissa Scott

Contact Number:   313-852-0725

Grades Served:  PreK-8

Project Request: Beautification project

Number of volunteers needed: 5-8

Resources needed to complete the request: shovels and plants (assorted annuals and perennials)








There will be scores of volunteer projects available for the 10th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day on Saturday, Aug.6.

There are many cleanup and beautification projects as well as event support opportunities at festivals and other events. You can participate as an individual or you can have your organization “adopt” or partnering with a Neighborhoods Day group.

Volunteering is simple four process.
1. Go to the website,,
2. Click into the Neighborhoods Events List.
3. Scan the list of projects and select the project that interest you.
4. Phone the contact person listed for the project and make arrangements for your visit on Neighborhoods Day.

If you make a connection, please email us at and let us know what project you will support.

Thank you for Being Part Of The Change!



Before there were business moguls buying buildings in downtown Detroit … Before there were national retail chains and restaurants coming back to Detroit … Before claiming to be concerned about the neighborhoods of Detroit became a trend and a feel-good cliché …Before the so-called hipsters and the new creative class started discovering Detroit …

Read the Full Story from The HUB: CLICK HERE!



Original published May 13,2016 The HUB –



9th Annual Arise Detroit Neighborhood Days. Detroit, Mi, August 1, 2015

9th Annual Arise Detroit Neighborhood Days. Detroit, Mi, August 1, 2015

Neighborhoods Day celebrates all the great work block clubs, churches, schools  community groups and local businesses do throughout the year in the effort to create a better Detroit. Neighborhoods Day events are  held all over the city on the same day, from midtown to downtown, from the west side to the east side.


Whatever shows off the work and serves the needs of your neighborhood or organization – such as community cleanups, parades, work shops on various issues, youth events and concerts, volunteer signups for community programs, health fairs, garage sales, picnics, etc.


No. Do whatever works best for your  situation. Some events have had several hundred people or over 1,000, some 20 to 50. The size of the event is not as important as demonstrating your desire to be connected to other Detroiters who share a common spirit for a better community.


There is a $50 registration fee. You will receive a Neighborhoods Day banner, T-shirts and a “community tool kit,” of neighborhood services, vouchers for supplies for your beautification projects. ARISE Detroit! also will assist in identifying potential vendors for your event if you wish. Registration deadline is July 5, 2016.


ARISE Detroit! does not make grants, but many groups obtain funding from their community businesses and organizations that are eager to support groups that support them throughout the year.


Some events will receive media coverage, but we  cannot guarantee it for all events. However, ARISE Detroit! promotes all the events to the local media and all events will be posted on our website map.


START EARLY/REGISTER EARLY: The more time you can devote to planning, the better it will be. The registration deadline is July 5, so if you are interested, register on our website,, or by hard copy as soon as possible!

GET YOUR NEIGHBORS INVOVLED/COLLABORATE WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS:  Don’t try to do to much by yourself. Contact your neighbors, churches, community organizations that you have relationships with and ask them to be part of your event.

BUILD IN SUCCESS: If you are trying to attract a certain number of people, why not get a commitment from a church group, social organization or block club to have on of their events – and send their supporters – to your event. That way you have a guaranteed audience in addition to whomever else you might attract.

DO COMMUNITY/MEDIA OUTREACH: If you can, develop flyers and do an email campaign in your neighborhood. Get your information published in local church bulletins. Send press releases about your event to local media. Also send them to ARISE Detroit! so we can help publicize your event.

DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL: If you already have a program or activity that you are already doing each summer or fall, such as feeding the homeless each Saturday, or a back-to-school event just plug that program into Neighborhoods Day.

LARGE OR SMALL IS GOOD:  Don’t feel compelled to have a huge event if it doesn’t fit your budget or resources; Do what works best for you. You can do a neighborhood Lemonade stand if you wish, just something to show you care.

NEED HELP WITH VENDORS?  Each group determines its own vendor procedures, but ARISE Detroit! will assist in identifying vendors if you wish. Call us at 313-921-1955 or email at

HAVE A RAIN PLAN: Neighborhoods Day will be a great event, rain or shine, but if it rains have a backup plan – date or indoor location – for your activity






DO YOU RUN A youth-serving organization that tries to help young people improve their lives? Have you wanted a better way to find and connect with other young people and to collaborate with other groups?

Then the first annual Youth Resource Summit is meant for you. Supported by a partnership between the Better Detroit Youth Movement and ARISE Detroit, the unique event will be held Saturday, May 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the conference room of the Samaritan Center. The center is located at 5555 Conner, Detroit, 48213.

The event is free but is targeted at organizations who have resources of all kinds – academic, athletic, mentorship – targeted at helping young people improve their lives in academics and other ways through smart choices and good information.

The program that will be unveiled at the summit is called the Resource Alert Project (RAP).

“We hope to really make a difference by bringing different groups together,” said Reuben Gordon, the co-director of the Better Detroit Youth Movement, and the creator of RAP. “We think we have a creative way to get information in way that our young people will utilize.”

That way involves social media, a new app that will be filled with hundreds of resources and organizations to help young people.

Gordon believes RAP will deliver three primary benefits: “One, to connect our youth to programs, a youth events calendar, and a variety of wonderful individuals and groups who are here to help them grow into positive and productive adults, and our future leaders,” he said.

He added: “ Two, to foster stronger communication, cohesion and collaboration among our youth-serving community so we’re collectively empowered to lift more children more often. Three, to consistently encourage more of us to actively support the success of our youth by serving as volunteers, mentors, teachers, etc.”

Gordon said, technology is used for many things, “but not enough for our most precious resource – our children .And we certainly don’t leverage their preferred mode of communication – mobile devices – to show them we care by consistently connecting them to positive people and productive opportunities.”

Youth serving groups can register by clicking on this link:


For more information about the summit and the Resource Alert Project, call 313-342-0697.




ARISE Detroit!

6th Annual Neighborhoods Rising Summit




By Leslie Ellis
Special for ARISE Detroit!

“Working together, the ants eat the elephant.”

That African proverb set the tone at ARISE Detroit’s sixth annual Neighborhoods Rising Summit on Nov. 7 at Wayne County Community College District’s downtown campus. More than 300 people came to network and learn about resources and funding opportunities that can help them improve their communities.

Speakers from ARISE Detroit!, The Kresge Foundation, Detroit Future City and Black Family Development kicked off the summit. It featured a slew of exhibitors, 50 panelists and 12 workshops on topics including entrepreneurship, overcoming job barriers, Detroit banks, partnerships for neighborhood change and more.

“(The summit) gives neighborhood groups the necessary tools they need to go back into their neighborhoods and make all kinds of improvements,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, deputy director of The Kresge Foundation. “It’s the one place in the city where block clubs can come talk to experts and access resources. It’s the one place that brings the neighborhood warriors together in one place to learn from each other as well as various programs that (support) their work.”

ARISE Detroit! Executive Director Luther Keith said he feels momentum building in the city.

“More people care about it. More people are getting involved,” he said. “All these announcements about grants, about resources, they weren’t available six years ago. Now, the funding is getting pushed down into the grass-roots groups.”


Kim Sherobbi of the Birwood Block Club Association said she was interested to learn that Detroit Future City is launching mini-grants to help residents transform vacant lots. The grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded in late February to help with preparation, technical assistance and execution of projects in the spring.

Sherobbi said her block club plans to transform a vacant lot that kids pass on the way to school. Turning it into a focal point of the neighborhood will tell passers-by that people there care, she said.

“I’m a big supporter of ARISE Detroit! I always meet new people (at the summit) and, actually, I always gain new ideas,” said Sherobbi, who also serves on the Boggs Center board. “For example, I sat next to a lady and we exchanged info. She said, you seem to know a lot of people. I said call me up! She was having trouble getting people to engage in the community.”

Karen Williams of the Bennett Street Block Club also had questions about how to engage her neighbors during the summit’s Neighborhood Organizing/Planning workshop.

What gives, she asked panelists? She and others have been knocking on doors and hosting get-togethers since the club formed in June. But, they wanted to have more impact.

“You have folks following you. You have folks watching you. Folks are going to recognize a true leader,” panelist Prophet Cedric Banks from Heart of Jesus Church said. “(They) are going to come out.”

Panelist Vanessa Peake of the Urban Development Corporation offered context.

“Sometimes people aren’t coming out because people’s spirits are broken,” she said. “You have to be patient.”

Over a lunch of buttered noodles and meatballs, in WCCC’s sunny atrium, Karen Williams reflected.

“We just need to be persistent. We’re doing the footwork, the legwork, the assessment,” she said. “I got a pat on my back and I learned to be diligent.”

First-time summit participant the Rev. Rita Monique Henderson of Empowering Through The Word Ministries said she came to see where she fits in. She hopes to create a community organization focused on faith, family and finances. Neighbors also have urged her to form a block club.

“I love the event,” she said. “I’ve had a wonderful time. I have a bunch of resources. . “It (the summit) has me dreaming on a whole other level.”




Laced throughout the summit were discussions of “Old Detroit” and “New Detroit.”

Panelists in the “Old Meets New” workshop addressed the issue head-on. There has been some controversy over how new comer Detroiters should interact with long time residents..

“We are living in an interesting time in Detroit, with a lot of people moving into Detroit without understanding the history,” said Aaron Foley, author of “How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass.”

He cited the paving over Black Bottom, a mostly black neighborhood, to make way for urban renewal projects, including Lafayette Park, in the 1960s.

“People still have that in the back of their minds,” he said. “I don’t want to say history is repeating itself but echoes of the past are getting louder and louder.”

An audience member asked the panelists to address racial tensions.

“People are reluctant to talk about race – it’s too big,” responded Jordan Twardy, executive director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association.

Instead, start small, he suggested: Meet after hours over a beer or a coffee to create safe spaces for those conversations.

Panelist Carl Zerweck III of Rippling Hope said his faith-based blight-removal organization, many of whose volunteers are white out-of-towners, tackles race by creating opportunities for engagement.

“We deal with racial tension just by bringing them here and having them live in a safe place and be exposed to neighbors,” he said. “I’m more and more stunned by the number of people who come here and say, ‘We thought all this racial stuff was behind us.’ We try to create conversation and dialog.”

Policy also has a role to play, the panelists said.

“No matter how many buildings Dan Gilbert buys, that’s not going to close the education gap. That’s not going to close the poverty gap,” Foley said, in reference to the billionaire investor behind much of the “New Detroit” boom downtown.

Twardy suggested closing the gaps requires commitment from leaders throughout Metro Detroit.

“The subjective assumption of regional policies is there’s a line at Eight Mile: Keep blacks away from whites,” he said. “That’s a policy challenge.”


While there were plenty of thorny problems to sort out, there was no shortage of inspiration during the Neighborhoods Rising Summit.

During her opening comments, keynote speaker Alice Thompson, CEO of Black Family Development, urged the audience to see vacant lots as opportunities instead of eyesores, redefining them as open space just waiting to be beautified.

“What do kids see on the way to school? Vacant space or open space? I’ve reframed that: Detroit is rich in land,” she said. “With open space, we can be creative.”

Thompson urged residents roll up their sleeves and to tap into the Detroit Future City framework and field guide to working with lots.
“You can purchase the vacant lot next to your house and transform vacant space into vibrant open space,” she said.

Thompson laid out a series of steps to help residents get started
Among her suggestions:

  • Form block club.
  • Frame a vision for the community and get consensus.
  • Develop an action plan with a timeline.
  • Develop a community revitalization co-op. Meaning: If Miss Jones needs to have her grass cut, neighbors will do it for her, no questions asked.
  • Engage all community residents, including youths. Keep knocking on the doors.

Thompson then shared with the audience the African proverb that motivates her: “Working together, the ants eat the elephant.”

“No matter how big the elephant is in your neighborhood, working together, you can conquer that,” she said. “Your block clubs have power. Your associations have power. Use your power!”

Leslie Ellis is a Metro Detroit freelance writer


Michigan Community Resources

Detroit Future City

Detroit Future City: Working With Lots, A Field Guide

Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit grants


Below are a few photos from the event for you to enjoy.








ARISE Detroit!



Workshops For Neighborhoods Rising Summit


1. ENTREPRENEURSHIP SUCCESS: Local entrepreneurs offers advice and tips about overcoming barriers and challenges to thrive in city neighborhoods. How to get funding, businesses technical support, writing business plans, marketing and more.
2. NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZING/PLANNING: How to form block clubs and community coalitions to mobilize residents to tackle issues to improve your neighborhoods. Overcoming neighborhood apathy, identifying neighborhood leaders and more.
3. FIGHTING BLIGHT WITH CITY DISTRICT MANAGERS: Learn how to utilize the resources of city district managers in the fight against neighborhood blight. Identifying resources for your community beatification and blight projects.
4. PUBLIC SAFETY: How to develop crime fighting strategies for your neighborhoods, including organizing neighborhood patrols, overcoming the no-snitch culture, creating crime watch and peace walk programs.
5. OVERCOMING JOB BARRIERS: How to make sure you are prepared and able to compete for Detroit’s new jobs. Acquiring literacy skills, getting job training support, finding skill training programs.
6. ALTERNATIVE FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: How to utilize social media for successful crowd funding programs for projects when you can’t raise money by conventional means. How to create a successful crowd funding program and more.


1. USING THE LAND BANK: How to acquire vacant homes/properties and side lots through city programs and other Land Bank Authority initiatives. How to find out who owns the land, property taxes on vacant homes and more.
2. WHERE IS THE MONEY? BANKS IN DETROIT: Representatives of several banks talk about their mortgage, business loan and other programs that are available for residents of Detroit. How to qualify for programs.
3. PARTNERSHIPS FOR COMMUNITY CHANGE: Finding others in the community, business, organizations and residents, to partner with you on your community projects. How to form positive coalitions to recruit volunteers and other support
4. OLD MEETS NEW: When other groups come in to the city, what is the right way to avoid conflicts with longtime residents so groups can get along and work together for positive change. Tips for a smooth relationship
5. BUILDING COMMUNITY WITH FESTIVALS: Creating a community festival can be a great way to build identity in a neighborhood and bring people together for future collaboration and projects. How do you get sponsors, volunteers etc.
6. YOUTH PROGRAMS /PUBLIC SERVICE: How to develop programs where youth help create positive change and participate in programs that help them succeed in life.



ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day PSA: Click here to view

Belting out a song at the Bringing In Change Festival.

“What Neighborhoods Day does really well is bring out neighbors. They participate in a project and then they have a sense of ownership and have pride in the neighborhood.”
-Payton Wilkins, East Side Community Network


By Leslie Ellis

ad-imageFrom the east side to the west side, from downtown to the north end, they came armed with paint brushes and shovels, creativity and love, ready to make a difference. There were people from Detroit, volunteers from the suburbs, big corporations and small churches.

All together, they accounted for more than 250 community improvement projects in zips codes all over the city, making the 9th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day on Aug. 1, the biggest and most far reaching in history.

“Neighborhoods Day helps us to have pride in where we live,” said Edna Jackson of Detroit, who attend a UAW Jobs Fair in southwest Detroit on Neighborhoods Day. “We drive up and down the street and say, ‘When is somebody going to do something about that? That’s what you’re watching today. It encourages people to continue throughout the year. It gives you some idea of what you can do to make a difference in your community.”

Perhaps Detroit Circus performer Eric Scott Baker said it best when he spoke to the Neighborhoods Day crowd gathered around him at the Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts in the Old Redford community in northwest Detroit.

“You are the manager of your reality and you can be anything you want.”

Here’s a snapshot of some of the Neighborhoods Day events:


The scent of hickory smoke and thump of dance music created a block party feeling Saturday as the Gratiot Splash event kicked off Neighborhoods Day.

In a grassy lot near Eastern Market, children tumbled joyfully in a colorful bounce house, bustling vendors set up booths and adults took a cardio workout class under the big tent. The morning dawned with prayers for Detroit led by Prophet Cedric Banks from Heart of Jesus Church.

Later, volunteers Nehemiah Hamm of Detroit and Speed Miller of Ypsilanti fired up a massive metal barbecue to cook hot dogs for the community on behalf of Marracci Temple No. 13 in Detroit. The temple also provided face painting and pony and carriage rides.

“We want to help support the event for the day,” Hamm said. “We do it every year.”

“The kids love it,” Miller added.


The United Way of Southeastern Michigan was on hand to offer resources, free health screenings were available and Mosaic Youth Theater performed.

Derek Blackmon of Black Family Development organized anti-crime marchers at the Gratiot Splash.

BikeVon group at the Gratiot Splash, getting reading to tour Detroit on Neighborhoods Day.

RIDING IN THE D: East Side Bike Cruise

A diverse cavalcade of smiling bikers circled up Saturday at the potential site of an Olympic-level cycling track before heading out on the inaugural Neighborhoods Day bike rally.

The 25-mile “Riding in the D” bike ride started at The Gratiot Splash and visited sev1eral Neighborhoods Day events and was a nod to the popularity of cycling in the city.

“Pretty much any weekend, you’re going to have two to three-hundred bikers going through Detroit,” said Calvin T. Hughes, Vice President of Touring for Wolverine Sports Club., citing the Slow Roll and Critical Mass bike rides.

“Riding in the D” organizer Yvonne Rucker, who’s also owner and executive director of BikeVON, said she hopes the ride will become an annual part of Neighborhoods Day.

BikeVON’s mission is to introduce kids of color in Detroit to the Olympic sport of track racing.

Rucker supports the Detroit Velo Project’s plan to build an indoor cycling track, also called a velodrome, in Detroit. The track would cost $3-5 million and still needs city approval. “Riding in the D” embarked from an empty lot near Gratiot Avenue and Vernor Highway that is one of the sites under consideration for the velodrome.

Rucker hopes to convince potential neighbors of the project’s value.

“We’d like the community to look at it in a positive way,” Rucker said. “We’re hoping for community support.”


Members of the national award-winning Detroit City Chess Club challenged each other, their coaches and the community to battle wits Saturday outside Chrysler Elementary School on Lafayette.

Tables, chairs and chess boards set up on a shady stretch of sidewalk near downtown served as an invitation to play.

“You get people that drive by and want their kids to play it to learn. Some say, ‘We can’t play now, but can you give us more information?’ ” Coach Kevin Fite said. “It’s open to anybody. Most of the kids are national champion kids. They compete all over the country.”

In 2002, Fite was a mathematics teacher at the city’s now-shuttered Duffield Elementary School for kindergarten through eighth-grade when the chess club began.

“I asked the kids if they played chess. Only two admitted it. Out of 150 kids, those two came,” Fite said. “But, more and more started coming. Then, some of the popular kids came. Once the popular kids started coming, it just took off. It changed the culture of the whole school. When new kids would come, they’d ask them, ‘Do you play chess?’ ”

“An eighth-grade girl asked me, ‘What if high school doesn’t have chess?’ I didn’t know what to tell her. That’s how (the citywide club) got started, because of her.”

Playing chess builds students’ self-esteem and opens new horizons, Fite said. He added that most club members make it to college.

Zoe Frazier of Detroit, who will enter eighth grade at University Prep Science & Math Middle School in the fall, has been playing chess with the club for the past four years.

“When we play in the community, people see all these kids beating the older guys. They actually want to see us play,” she said. “Coach Fite is always telling us to play people we don’t know so we can teach them or learn from them. When you beat an adult, it feels kind of good.”

If you missed your chance to play chess with the club during Neighborhoods Day, don’t worry. The Detroit City Chess Club welcomes the public to join in games held from 4-8 p.m. most Friday nights in Prentis Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Visit the DIA’s website for upcoming dates.

Members of the national award-winning Detroit City Chess Club face-off during the 9th annual Neighborhoods Day.

UAW LOCAL 22 JOB FAIR: Southwest Detroit

Next August, you might find Percy Johnson relaxing on a fishing boat in Louisiana.

But there was no sign Saturday the community action program chairman for UAW Local 22 in Detroit plans to retire at the end of the year.

Instead, Johnson prepared job seekers during the union hall’s first Neighborhoods Day job fair with the intensity of a coach whose team is down at half time. Approximately 50 people turned out for the event and received information about job openings and training programs; 80 additional participants received employment counseling over the phone, he said.

“The work is here, but the people don’t know where to go or what to do to get the work,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to bridge that gap.”

No high school diploma or GED? No driver’s license? Previously incarcerated? Representatives from Focus:HOPE, Southwest Solutions and Access for All were on hand to match job hunters with the right programs to overcome these hurdles.

“You can just see the change in people when they find they can get that kind of help,” said Edna Jackson, a social worker for Focus:HOPE. “When folks come in and are really down on their luck, we can help them.”

The only deal breaker of the day? No drugs.

“A poor person, all he’s got is to alter his mind. But once you give them employment, they change completely,” Johnson said. “The opportunity (to work) is here in Detroit like never before.”

Need help with your job search? Visit or call 313-494-4300 for more information about workforce development and education programs. Or, attend an upcoming meeting of the City of Detroit’s Skilled Trades Task Force. Meetings are held the last Tuesday of each month (except in August). The next meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 22. Call City Council President Brenda Jones’ office at (313) 224-1245 for more information.


Just past the placid river, where green-leaved branches dance in the breeze and insects sing a summer song, you’ll find D-Town Farm.

The seven-acre plot inside River Rouge Park on Detroit’s west side is a haven from the city’s crumbling concrete, pulsing highways and status quo. D-Town Farm grows fresh produce, as well as a vision for a different kind of future.

The farm is an outreach effort of The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. The coalition employs urban agriculture, policy development and cooperative buying to give African-Americans a leading voice in the city’s food security movement.

“This (growing season) is my first time ever being on a farm, except being in my grandma’s garden. It’s really peaceful,” said volunteer Imani Smith of Detroit. “It’s a great place to connect. You get to meet people from all walks of life and you find out you have things in common.”

One of those people was the Rev. Gary Wright of Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit. Wright brought several members of his church to D-Town Farm on Neighborhoods Day.

“We were looking for a place to do some service and this seemed like something really different,” he said. “It was great.”

The church members toured D-Town’s hoop houses and garden beds. Then, they pulled weeds and cleaned a median between the farm and a tidy row of ranch homes across the street.

“What they’re doing is producing food that serves people in the community,” Wright said of D-Town Farm. “It changes the way we distribute food.”

Malik Yakini of the Black Community Food Security Network on his tractor at the D-Town Farm at River Rouge Park on Neighborhoods Day.

These volunteers with Rippling Hope spruced up neighborhoods on the west side of Detroit.


A bakery near a swing set. A gun marked with a red “X.”

These are some of the images children used to express their hopes for Detroit in a new mural on the city’s east side. The colorful, seven-panel artwork was the focal point of a small gathering at Warren Avenue and Philip Street during Neighborhoods Day.

Music enlivened the corner, where kids picked up a paintbrushes wet with color to work on another mural while families could get a bite to eat.

The event was held in the Chalmers neighborhood, where empty lots frequently interrupt lovingly tended brick homes with neatly manicured yards.

“What Neighborhoods Day does really well is bring out neighbors,” said Payton Wilkins, Youth Engagement Manager for the Eastside Community Network. “They participate in a project and then they have a sense of ownership and have pride in the neighborhood.”

Wilkins said the Eastside Community Network aims to transform the community using a mix of economic development and land use revitalization.

“This area is slowly gentrifying. It’s slowly starting to become a more diverse neighborhood,” Wilkins said. “We really wanted to give our youth a voice. Their mural represents what they want to see in Detroit and what they don’t like. It’s a big statement.”


Five-year-old Millie Harris was so excited about Neighborhoods Day, she didn’t even want to eat breakfast before leaving home.

“She’s having a blast. We’re doing a cultural weekend and it’s perfect!” her mom, Malon Harris of Detroit, said as Millie bopped around a bounce house on the lawn of the Detroit Public Library’s main branch. “She made her puzzle at the African-American museum. She planted her seed at the science center. Now, we’re here.”

The library used Neighborhoods Day as an opportunity to celebrate its 150th anniversary with music, crafts, food, free books and a clown tying balloons.

“We consider ourselves as the community’s living room,” said A.J. Funchess, the library’s assistant director for marketing and communications. “We try to provide our community with what they need. Right now, that’s very technology-driven.”

He said the library has adapted to the digital age by offering e-books, streaming video, Wi-Fi access and more than 700 public access computers at branches throughout the city.

The library’s Neighborhoods Day celebration inspired Harris to inquire about getting a library card so she and Millie can come back to check out books.

“If it wasn’t for this, I wouldn’t have even thought about it,” she said.

“(Neighborhoods Day) was really good, when you have a parent on a tight budget. I wish I could have gotten my school involved, brought them down on a field trip,” said Harris, who is principal of Murphy Performance Academy in Detroit. “This is something they normally wouldn’t be exposed to. I’ll explore doing that next year.”

DANCE CITY FESTIVAL: Harmonie Park, Downtown

Fringed by greenery, hula dancers swayed under blue skies as a gentle breeze whispered through the peaceful park.

But this was no Hawaiian beachside retreat.

Rather, it was a performance during the three-day Detroit Dance City Festival that culminated on Neighborhoods Day. The festival was put on by the Detroit-based nonprofit ARTLAB J and featured workshops and exhibitions by local, national and international performing artists.

“(The lineup has) been very diverse this year,” said Jiwan Jackson, performing arts manager for The Arts League of Michigan. The organization, which celebrates African-American artists, helps to present the festival.

“Our goal is to have different people from different backgrounds engaging with each other,” Jackson said.

Clifton Tuggle of Detroit was delighted to discover the Detroit Dance City Festival performance in the city’s downtown Harmonie Park neighborhood.

“I just stumbled on it. I like cultural things, I enjoy stuff like this,” he said. “I think it enhances the city. Bringing that to Detroit is an excellent thing.”


“You must be registered to pick up a backpack,” Shirley Burch boomed into the microphone. “Line up for backpacks this way.”

The longtime community organizer sported a jaunty red sailor cap as she marshaled the crowd during the “Bringing in Change Back-to-School Rally” on Neighborhoods Day in northeast Detroit.

Hundreds of people attended the event that featured backpack giveaways, a visit from Detroit Tigers mascot Paws, a picnic pavilion, miniature train rides for kids, music, health screenings and more.

Prophet Cedric Banks and other members of Heart of Jesus Church in Detroit set up a prayer circle during the event and prayed for dozens of people.

“I think (Neighborhoods Day) is something special. I think it’s brought a spark to this city,” Banks said. “It’s brought a lot of people out who have visions. They’re coming to Neighborhoods Day – ARISE Detroit! is giving them an opportunity. It affects a lot of people’s lives.”

Burch echoed that sentiment.

“The day couldn’t have went better,” she said. “We have had such an outburst of love that, like a tree, it buds out and multiplies.”

It’s the eighth year Burch’s organization, Community United for Progress, has participated in Neighborhoods Day. C.U.P.’s key partners include Imperial Supermarket and Belmont Shopping Center at Eight Mile and Dequindre roads, where the event was held.

“We’re giving away 650 backpacks. What aren’t given away will be shared with the Detroit Police Department,” to distribute to the community, Burch said. “Eight years I’ve been here and every year it gets bigger. People wonder how they can get involved, how they can make a difference in their neighborhood.”

Hundreds of youngsters like these received free backpacks at the Bringing In Change Festival at the Belmont Shopping Center in northeast Detroit.


Imagine you’ve been dropped into an artist’s dream.

In an alleyway festooned with colorful streamers, a crowd gathers around an upright bassist, a drummer and a trio of violin players. Nearby, a circus performer plays with fire and dancers leap through the street. Children have their faces painted and poets cry out.

This is an artist’s dream, but one she’s transformed into reality.

Native Detroiter Ryan Myers-Johnson founded the Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts, located at the Artists Village on Lahser near Grand River, to celebrate independent artists and build community. The third annual outdoor festival was the event’s largest to date. It drew more than 60 artists and hundreds of people to the alleys, sidewalks, streets, gardens and courtyards of the city’s Old Redford and Brightmoor neighborhood.

Performers included Detroit poet Jessica Care Moore, Ballet Folkloriko de Detroit, Gabriel Brass Band, opera singer Kisma Jordan and Mosaic Youth Theatre.

The free festival attracted a diverse audience from the city and suburbs, who engaged with the artists and each other in joyful wonder.

“It’s my first time and it’s incredible,” said Hayley Thompson of Huntington Woods. “It feels like everything’s a pop-up activity. It’s very organic. It’s very inspiring.

“This is pretty much the main reason I know anything about this neighborhood,” she said. “I work in Detroit but I’m still very much a suburbanite.”

Dan Aprilianto of Ann Arbor, whose wife Emilia Javanica performed a puppet show for kids during the festival, agreed.

“It’s interesting,” he said. “It’s really good for the city because it attracts so many people to come to Detroit.”


Neighborhoods Day activities were slated to continue throughout the month.

“It says a lot about the spirit of the people in our neighborhoods,” ARISE Detroit! Executive Director Luther Keith said. “The growth in registrations, as well as the strong sponsorship support from businesses, foundations and volunteers, is a clear sign that more people are recognizing that creating vibrant neighborhoods is essential for Detroit’s comeback.”

For the second year in a row, Detroit Future City was the title sponsor of Neighborhoods Day, joined by a record number of more than 30 major sponsors.

“Part of the DFC Implementation Office’s mission is to empower Detroiters to engage in the city’s transformation, and this event is another shining example of putting that sentiment into action,” said Dan Kinkead, interim Director of the DFC implementation office..

Elected officials also showed their support for Neighborhoods Day.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and his team adopted Bagley Elementary School and spent the day gardening, cleaning and painting to prepare the building for the school year. Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, Councilmen Scott Benson and James Tate, and Department of Neighborhoods Director Charlie Beckham all attended events.

Corporate volunteers that adopted schools for projects for Neighborhoods Day included, Blue Cross Blue Shield, PNC Bank, Meijer, FCA Chrysler. Volunteers also come from Oakland University, Wisdom Lodge No. 57, and Oakland County Community College.

Leslie Ellis is a Detroit-area freelance writer.