Snyder: $1.5-million grant will support students, neighborhoods

April 29th, 2013
Governor Rick Snyder speaks at Western International High School on Monday April 29, 2013, about a plan to assist DPS in making schools Neighborhood Hubs. JPMorgan Chase invests $1.5 million to expand services and neighborhood revitalization efforts to families in southwest Detroit. / Ryan Garza/ Detroit Free Press

Detroit Free Press story on the announcement today of a $1M Chase grant to Southwest Solutions as part of a partnership with DPS and the State to help families in and around three southwest Detroit schools:

Snyder: $1.5-million grant will support students, neighborhoods

By Chastity Pratt Dawsey
Detroit Free Press Education

Gov. Rick Snyder joined Detroit Public Schools this morning in announcing $1.5 million in grants from JPMorgan Chase to turn three schools in southwest Detroit into community centers with added social services.

JPMorgan Chase has committed a $1-million grant to Southwest Solutions, a local nonprofit agency, to provide an array of services at Western International High School, Harms Elementary and Maybury Elementary over the next three years that would include financial literacy, screening for eligibility for benefits and home repair loan programs.

The services will work in tandem with the state Department of Human Services’ Pathways to Potential program that last year placed DHS caseworkers, called success coaches, in schools to identify resources and assistance to students and families. Western will get a new success coach.

“This is an exciting day,” Snyder said.

The funding will help to bolster DPS’s new five-year strategic plan announced earlier this month that aims to turn schools into community centers that could provide social services for up to 12 hours every day. The strategic plan is part of an effort to attract and retain students. DPS is down to 50,000 students, about a third the size the district was a decade ago.

The strategic plan, largely unfunded, is relying heavily on partnerships, grants and fund-raising.

Sarah McClelland, JPMorgan Chase’s Michigan market president, said the company’s objectives in Detroit are well-defined. “We must stabilize families living in high-poverty neighborhoods by providing high-quality educational opportunities and by creating job opportunities.”

Southwest Solutions aims to help 115 families with $10,000 to $15,000 in loans and to coordinate the deconstruction or demolition of 30 blighted properties near schools. “The school is the hub of the community — we’re so pleased to be a part of that movement,” said John Van Camp, president of Southwest Solutions.

The JPMorgan Chase grant also will support classes for English learners, job training in green careers, pre-foreclosure counseling and business classes for immigrant and minority entrepreneurs. Other agencies that will share in $500,000 in grants and provide services include the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, Greening of Detroit, Community Legal Resources, Detroit Parent Network and the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development.

Roy Roberts, emergency manager for DPS, said about nine other corporations want to support the district’s strategic plan and he hopes to make another announcement as soon as next week.

“It’s about the kids. It’s about the kids. It’s about the kids,” Roberts said.

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