Skillman Awards $135,000 to Southwest Solutions’ Community Organizing Program

August 1st, 2010
Youth Voice rally

DETROIT, August 1, 2010 Southwest Solutions’ community partnerships program has been awarded a $135,000 grant by The Skillman Foundation to strengthen and expand community capacity for leadership, planning and advocacy for children through community organizing in southwest Detroit.

The grant will allow the program to build upon its successful organizing efforts by hiring additional organizers and developing new initiatives. Southwest Solutions’ community partnerships program was established two years ago with Skillman Foundation seed funding.

“Support from Skillman has enabled us to significantly increase civic participation and grassroots leadership in southwest Detroit,” said John Van Camp, president of Southwest Solutions. “Through relationship building and mobilizing all sectors of the community, we hope to promote a culture that prioritizes the healthy development of children and youth. The future and viability of our neighborhoods depend on effectively identifying and addressing the needs of children and youth.”

The Southwest Solutions’ community organizing effort is a collaboration with the Harriet Tubman Center, which offers internships and professional training to aspiring organizers, and numerous other groups, organizations and individuals. Organizers work with many sectors in the community, including: youth and youth-serving agencies, parents of school children, school principals, neighborhood residents, organizations addressing the needs of the poor, faith-based groups, activists, artists, and others.

The organizing effort has already registered numerous successes and continues to gain significant momentum and media attention. Youth Voice, a grassroots organizing effort designed to give youth a greater voice in the city and public policy, has secured regular meetings with public officials to work toward better schools, safer and cleaner neighborhoods, youth employment, recreational opportunities, a more responsive system of care for youth.

Working with principals and Local School Community Organizations (LSCO) at elementary schools in southwest Detroit, school-based organizing projects focus on issues of safety and crime, improving the school and learning environment, enhancing parental involvement, and securing additional resources and attention for the public schools. Organizers have galvanized LSCOs by facilitating parental meetings with appropriate officials to address issues that harm children’s ability to learn.

“The Skillman funding is vitally important to our community organizing efforts,” said Bill O’Brien, director of community partnerships at Southwest Solutions. “In the coming grant year, we will continue to organize and build capacity in schools, continue develop Youth Voice and many other initiatives, cultivate grassroots leadership, engage policymakers, and forge a collaborative that is committed to assuring that the social service, economic and educational needs of southwest Detroit children and youth are met.”

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