Southwest Detroit is one of the city’s most dense and vibrant neighborhoods, rich with diverse communities and culture. While many residents have started to benefit from recent local redevelopment and revitalization efforts, others continue to struggle with inadequate access to critical resources including education, employment, housing, and healthcare. Research indicates over 40% of the community has less than a high school diploma and 48% of 20-64 year-olds are not currently employed. Furthermore, 20% of households do not have access to a vehicle, making transit to jobs, training, education, and support difficult. In response, the Ford Motor Company Fund (“Ford Fund”) aims to create a sustainable (and replicable) place-based approach to providing high-need communities with critical social services. Made possible by grants from Ford Fund, the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (“FREC”) located in Southwest Detroit (FREC-SW) is a place where people can learn new skills, obtain needed services, and celebrate their community. Since opening in Detroit in 2013, FREC-SW has assisted more than 80,000 local residents through a range of services, including providing 1.2 million pounds of food and helping to complete 6,100 tax returns.

 The Challenge

FRECs are uniquely positioned to create community resilience by developing a hub for community engagement and programming, aimed to fight the root causes of poverty, empower at risk youth, and influence greater health and well-being in surrounding communities. Mission Throttle was tasked with bringing a market-based approach to FREC’s programming and to create a replicable, more resilient model. Financial resilience is particularly important to mission-based organizations, given that many serve high needs communities that require consistent and continually available services. Absent financial sustainability, mission-driven organizations are often unable to withstand short-term economic shocks, and are therefore at risk of losing their ability to effectively serve those in need. Mission Throttle recommended The Ford Fund first consider maximizing the efficient use of current resources available at each FREC, and next develop strategies to increase regenerative capital to promote long-term financial sustainability and maintain programming.

How we helped

During Phase I and II, Mission Throttle identified 17 agency-wide opportunities and funding opportunities to increase FREC’s reach, impact, and sustainability. FREC’s leadership and staff selected initiatives for further investigation. For each priority initiative, Mission Throttle conducted research on best practices, models of excellence, and potential implementation plans.

Our Impact

Mission Throttle’s additional research, considerations, and implementation plans for prioritized opportunities will serve as resources to support FREC’s resiliency, ultimately enabling it to pursue growth and scale.