The Kresge Foundation has awarded Wayne State University a $100,000, one-year grant to support CitizenDetroit, a community outreach program of the Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society (FOCIS).
Since its inception in 2012, CitizenDetroit has educated and mobilized residents of all ages, providing a framework for constructive political discourse. Community participants co-create the standards for evaluating political leadership and decisions made in Detroit.
CitizenDetroit is directed by Irvin D. Reid, inaugural holder of the Wayne State University Applebaum Chair in Community Engagement and President Emeritus, and his collaborative partner, former Detroit City Council member Sheila Cockrel.
"CitizenDetroit challenges the tendency of individuals to sit on the sidelines and oppose the actions of city leaders based solely on media coverage and urban legends," said Reid. "Access to better information means citizens will better understand how difficult it is for elected and appointed leaders to make tough decisions that affect other people's lives."
The grant funds will support the ongoing efforts of CitizenDetroit to:
- Reach high-performance voters and first-time voters about historical myths and facts that may misguide community dialogue objectives.
- Inform influential older adult voters about entrenched policies that impede government's ability to serve the needs of constituents or adapt to current economic, environmental and social challenges.
- Challenge youth and older adults to evaluate the actual policymaking dilemmas facing lawmakers today so as to create a cadre of informed civic and political activists.
"CitizenDetroit recognizes Detroit's diverse stakeholders and promises to create platforms and spaces for vital discussions," says Wendy Lewis Jackson, deputy director of The Kresge Foundation Detroit Program. "From transportation to public safety, there's not an issue facing the city for which the solution doesn't include an engaged public."
Established in 2007, FOCIS is a special initiative that focuses Wayne State University's problem-solving resources on an eclectic range of topics important to the campus community and beyond. FOCIS lectures and related events bring together the institution's teaching, research and service missions to advance the frontiers of knowledge, promote informed debate and encourage responsible citizenship in an increasingly fast-paced, interconnected and complex global society. FOCIS presents coordinated public programs, foreign-study projects, research opportunities and ongoing community dialogues addressing specific issues that confront the citizens of Detroit, the United States and the world. For more information, visit focis.wayne.edu.
About the Eugene Applebaum Chair in Community Engagement
The Eugene Applebaum Chair in Community Engagement was created through the generosity of alumnus Eugene Applebaum, founding chair of the Wayne State University Foundation. The Applebaum Chair is a catalyst for cooperation between the university and community organizations on issues in business and economic development, education, health, international outreach, politics and other areas. FOCIS is the Applebaum Chair's primary public platform.
About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America's cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development efforts in Detroit. In 2013, the Board of Trustees approved 316 awards totaling $122 million; $128 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. In addition, our Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $17.7 million in 2013. For more information, visit kresge.org.
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.