At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we’re proud to have invested $222 million over the past 10 years in nonprofits working toward lifting up children and families in our Detroit community. Our employment equity investments, in particular, have helped our grantees and partners expand support for businesses owned by women and people of color and empower talented people to access quality jobs that can help them build career pathways and wealth.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated challenges facing businesses owned by people of color, especially Black people. Some successfully pivoted, while others are struggling or have closed altogether. Access to capital is tied to credit or collateral, which is why organizations like TechTown Detroit and W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) grantee, ProsperUs Detroit, support people of color-owned businesses in building credit histories, providing business services and training and offering microlending to low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs of color.
The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, managed by WKKF grantee Detroit Development Fund, has now made more than $14 million in low interest loans to support small business owners in Detroit. Of those loans, 97% went to people of color and 55% to women.
Last year, Building Community Value hosted 49 participants in two cohorts of their Better Buildings, Better Blocks course, a nine-month property development training program that educates entrepreneurial Detroiters on the small-scale real estate development process. The program equips residents with the skills, including financing, legal structures and navigating government regulations, necessary to revitalize their neighborhoods
BLVD Harambee, short for Building Leaders for Village Development Harambee (”all pull together” in Swahili), is the nonprofit organization created by WKKF grantee Church of the Messiah that aims to eradicate poverty in Detroit’s Islandview community. Through its many services and programs, the organization is building an equitable future where residents contribute to and benefit from the neighborhood. With a congregation that is 60% Black men under the age of 30, several of BLVD Harambee’s programs focus on developing young male leaders in the community. The organization offers various pathways to success through college scholarships, their popular business incubator for young entrepreneurs and an employment office that connects people with jobs across the city. Recently, they realized there was another opportunity: connecting residents to construction work in the skilled trades.
COVID-19 hit children in Detroit especially hard. While students in many districts could continue their education from home online, that wasn’t an option for most of the 51,000 students in Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD). An estimated 85 to 90% of DPSCD students lacked the devices and internet access essential to continue learning. Leaders in the community, including WKKF, DTE Energy and the Detroit Branch NAACP came together with DPSCD and raised $23 million to bridge the digital divide by purchasing devices and internet access for all DPSCD students.
These results are impressive but could be even better with your support. We hope you’ll consider partnering with us to continue improving support for Detroit’s children and families.