Travel Journal – Detroit
Farmscape Mural
Urban Neighborhood Initiatives farmscape mural

Tiffany Lemieux-McKissic (CEDAM Manager of Membership and Communications) and Jessica AcMoody (CEDAM Office Manager) went to Detroit recently to visit CEDAM members and hear about the inspiring work they are doing.

The visit started at Abayomi Community Development Corporation in Northwest Detroit.  Unfortunately the power was out at their offices, but the Executive Director Tawnya Morris gave a tour of the service area and talked about the programs Abayomi offers.  Abayomi currently has an after school youth program, a youth sports program, counseling for youth offenders, tutoring, and life and leadership classes for families in the area.  Abayomi also offers a foreclosure counseling program and MSHDA certified home ownership counseling.

The next stop was Amandla Community Development Corporation, where we met with Executive Director Felicia Turner.  Felicia gave us a tour of the office and told us that Amandla has been expanding their foreclosure prevention counseling and has recently added new staff.  Amandla is also working on an extensive real estate development; stay tuned for more information!

City mural
Urban Neighborhood Initiatives mural

Our final stop was Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, where we met with Executive Director Dennis Nordmoe.  Dennis told us about UNI’s programs, which focus on moving the entire population (both children and adults) to a higher level of educational attainment.  Some of the programs include Head Start, after-school and summer programs, transitional support services, bilingual GED programs, English as a Second Language classes, and bilingual computer training.  Michael Boettcher of UNI gave us a tour of the area, and showed us the murals generated by UNI’s 2009 summer youth program.  Over 50 murals were commissioned by neighborhood residents and completed by students. The students were paid through CityConnect Detroit with stimulus fund dollars and trained by College for Creative Studies artists.

Dennis also showed us the Woodmere/Springdale Neighborhood Improvement Strategy, a comprehensive neighborhood strategic development plan recently completed with funding from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).  The Strategy details a grassroots redevelopment plan for Southwest Detroit. View an online PDF of the Strategy here.

Image of trust fund gala
From left to right: Kim Tyler (OPP Fund), Tiffany Lemieux-McKissic (CEDAM), Rachael Sanford, Jessica AcMoody (CEDAM), Lisa Nuszkowski (MFTF)

We wrapped up our time in Detroit at the Michigan Interfaith Trust Fund 25th anniversary gala held at the Detroit Yacht Club, where the Fund unveiled their new name (the Opportunity Resource Fund) and logo.  The night’s theme was a film premiere, and guests walked the red carpet while “paparazzi” snapped pictures. The culmination of the evening was the big reveal, which took place during dessert. Cakes with the new logo were presented to gala attendees, as well as a three foot tall ice sculpture.  The Opportunity Resource Fund promotes social and economic justice by making resources available to entrepreneurs, property owners and others in need.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to meet with us, we look forward to working with you in 2011!