Community Innovation Mini-Grant Winners

2017 was another year in which Impact Detroit received many outstanding applications and projects taking place around the city. It is truly encouraging to know how many people are dedicated to and working towards a healthier and happier city for our children. Thanks to the generous support of Detroit Future City and Hope Starts Here, we were able to award the ten mini-grants described below.

Wanda and Winky Go To California, a puppet show

Wanda and Winky Go To California is a family-friendly puppet show about the Detroit Zoo’s last two elephants, Wanda and Winky, who made headlines in 2005 when they were retired to an animal sanctuary in California, making the Zoo the nation's first major animal facility to retire an animal solely on ethical grounds. CMAP Detroit will collaborate with Linda K. McLean, Farmington Hills author of the children’s book Wanda and Winky to develop this poetic journey that aids in the understanding of this endangered and beautiful animal. The performance will debut at CMAP’s outdoor venue, 2221 Carpenter, on August 12 as part of CMAP’s free Outdoor Summer Series. An educational movement and puppetry workshop for children ages 5-12 years old will be held at the June 24th Blight Bootcamp event as a way to publicize the August performances dates and to show communities how they can activate empty neighborhood spaces with family-friendly programming centered around early developmental learning.

Outside/In Healthy Living Environment

We intend to create an Outside/In Healthy Living Environment for children and seniors within our CDC. This involves the mind, body and environment. Through bookmaking the children will create a book that will talk about the importance of healthy eating, growing fresh vegetables and the benefits each vegetable has on the body. The book will discuss the correlation of healthy eating, exercising and the benefits for the body and the mind. We will partner with Greening organizations in the City of Detroit to help with planting, garden creation and information about vegetables and nutrition. The three pillars of the family, seniors, adults and children will work together. The children will plan the environment they want to live in. It is our intent to get children and families outside. Our Outside/In Healthy Living will eliminate some of the blight within the area and give families hope and children a safer place to play. Our game spaces will encourage community interaction. The gardens will initiate sharing among families. We will access children from the neighborhood, schools in the area, churches and community organizations. We are taking what's bad outside and turning it inside out to create outside spaces we can live in.

Artists On The Grounds

Artist on the Grounds is a community beautification project sponsored by The CASOE Group, Inc, in collaboration with Bethel Community Transformation Center (BCTC) and Tr3 Media Solution. This partnership has been formed to create an artistic outdoor space on the north end section of the City of Detroit at 8801 Woodward Ave where the CASOE Theater House, a performing arts company and training center is located.

This group will restore and beautify the grounds of the 55,000 sq ft facility (former Temple Beth El) on the city blocks of Woodward Ave & Gladstone Street. Appx 20 CASOE Members (young people), 7 CASOE managers and 25 BCTC volunteers will clean up the area, remove all debris, rehab the 100 space parking lot and create a user friendly family outdoor flower garden. The flower garden will be a space where toddlers, kids (ages 6-12) and adolescents can visit with family and have their experiences video taped. The videographer will record their visits and create a DVD for the families. An outdoor mural will be mounted on the fence in bold, vibrant colors to create a fun, welcoming environment with signs LIVE! HOPE! DREAM! placed on an oak tree.

Bieniek Park Soccer Goals

Our plan for this mini-grant is to use the funds to install permanent junior soccer goals in a large flat section of Bieniek Park so that children can come to play pick-up games of soccer, and so that local junior soccer teams can utilize the goals for their practice and games. We will also use some of the funds for a grand-opening event to make sure that the community knows that the soccer goals are publicly available for use by local children. The Friends and Neighbors of Bieniek Park have been working since early 2016 to revitalize this decommissioned city park. We adopted Bieniek park officially last year and have performed multiple clean-up days, planted a community garden with raised beds and fruit trees, installed a bench, picnic table, and little free library, and removed over three dumpsters worth of trash and brush from the park. This project helps us take the next step in our plan to revitalize the park. The area where the park is located does not have any public park space for over half a mile and hasn't had a public park in over 15 years, yet is an area with many young children.

Rx for Reading Detroit Summer Reading Program at Detroit Public Library Parkman Branch

Rx for Reading Detroit, a children’s literacy initiative sponsored by the University of Detroit Mercy, will purchase and distribute over 1,000 brand new books for children and families with a particular focus on early childhood reading. The books will be distributed at the Summer Reading Kick-Off Event at the Detroit Public Library Parkman Branch, which will be held on June 21st, and through an Rx for Reading Community Library, which the Parkman Branch will host during Summer 2017. At this free community library and at the Summer Reading Kick-Off Event children and families are invited to choose books to "Take, Read, Share."

The books provided by the Impact Detroit Mini-Grant will help give families the necessary tools to prevent "summer slide” in reading skills and encourage literacy for children of all ages. Since 2014, Rx for Reading Detroit has distributed over 70,000 books to children and families in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.

Hamtramck Parks Story Walk

Our proposed project is a story walk that will be temporarily installed in Hamtramck city parks throughout the summer months. What we essentially hope for is to provide an opportunity for our children and families to encounter and enjoy books and stories out and about in our community. Since many of our families live, work and play in our city of two square miles, they are constantly looking for activities. This project can offer a way for family members to play, learn and spend time together while also giving a strong positive message to city residents and encourage community action. The books we choose for this project will be chosen with care to suit our diverse population, while also bringing literacy out of the schools and classrooms and into the broader environment, in a fun and enjoyable way. By locating the story walk signs outdoors in a park, we can combine the double joys of the outdoors and reading! With the library as a trusted and recognizable institution, we aspire to bring our message of inclusivity and knowledge for everyone out of the library and into our community.

Block party

This is our annual block club party. It's usually a very simple event, really, done for under $200. Hotdogs, chips, lemonade, water balloons, candy, and prizes (school supplies and toys). Ping pong and basketball in the street, volleyball and badminton on the grass. Kids own the street for a day. If we can get additional funds, we would like to rent a water inflatable and be able to it the way the kids want it done. We've never had that, for all the years the kids have been hoping. Our underlying motive is twofold: one, the obvious. We are a block, we need to know each other, we need to know each other's spouses, we need to know each other's children, we need to welcome the new neighbors. Two, give the kids great memories of a tradition that they can take with them as part of their Detroit heritage. One day a year they own the street. And as they get older, they get to do the planning. It's important that ""growing up in Detroit"" is positive and joyful and strengthening. That happens one neighborhood, one block, one great memory at a time.

Marlborough Essex Children's Garden

Marlborough Essex Culinary Corner is a community garden focused on providing fresh healthy organic produce for free for people in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood; last year we distributed 200+ pounds of food to those in need. We would like to expand to create a children's veggie garden and Butterfly Bird Rain Garden (specifically planted with fauna-attracting species) to help educate children in the area about healthy living, environmental principles, and the balance of nature. Children will learn to identify flowers and bird species who visit the garden. We also will teach kids easy recipes they can do with what they grow, show how herbs and spices can be used to add flavor in healthy ways, and provide seating for residents to enjoy a bit of nature and interact with one another.

Garden of Eatin'

MACC Lit Summer Camp is a six week camp themed Garden of Eatin' to explore the connection between science, nature, art, cooking and gardening. The camp is 3 full days, Tuesday - Thursday including fun, nature/garden themed weekly trips and guest speakers for 30 students kindergarten through 5th grade. This year the students at the summer camp will create a community gardens to beautify a vacant lot adjacent to the Mack Avenue Community Church building to be enjoyed by community members.

Detroit Children's Gallery (DCGArt) - Earth Works Series

Detroit Children's Gallery (DCGArt)* - Earth Works Series provides Detroit's youngest learners with creative experiences tied to nature awareness and preservation, in order to promote a positive relationship with self, others, and the natural environment. The Earth Works Series project foci allow children to engage with natural elements and recyclable materials - such as natural clay and cardboard products - to promote an understanding of the resources around them and how those resources can be used (and reused) to 1) create art and sensory experiences and 2) show appreciation for what our environment provides if we avoid unnecessary waste. Each project focus area will include an explanation of how materials are grown and/or produced and how we can conservatively and respectfully use them in our everyday lives. Each project focus is designed to build children's expressive and communal identity, so that their connections to the natural environment around them are positive and strong. As a direct byproduct, we aim to increase awareness for parents and families regarding protective environmental methods that can be used on a regular basis.

*Detroit Children's Gallery (DCGArt) is an art program for Detroit children that provides community-level access to art and art therapy experiences.