Chase Grants $1.5M for Southwest Detroit School Programs

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Chase Grants $1.5M for Southwest Detroit School Programs
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Mural in Southwest Detroit. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/taubuch.)

There's more happy news about good deeds in Detroit. In March, the city got $8 million for new police cars and ambulances from Roger Penske and other groups, says the Detroit News. Then, businesses, including Lear, pledged funds to keep the 51 parks slated for closure open. Now, students are the beneficiaries. The Associated Press says JPMorgan Chase has announced that it will grant $1.5 million to Detroit nonprofits that provide services to low-income students at three schools in Southwest Detroit.

Chase Gift

Detroit's Southwest neighborhood is culturally diverse, including a large Latino population. To improve life for residents, bank representatives awarded a $1 million grant to Southwest Solutions. This coalition provides human services under its counseling and housing solutions branches. The agency plans to spend the grant on expansion of its Centers for Working Families, located at Harms and Maybury elementary schools and Western International High School. The centers help low-income families achieve financial stability. They provide educational assistance and link them with job opportunities. Part of the money will go to support an ESL (English as a Second Language) program for parents at two of the schools. Still more of it will help 115 residents with home repairs and property improvement grants, and some will fund demolition and cleanup of 30 vacant properties around the schools.

Other Educational Grants

The Detroit Free Press says JPMorgan Chase will grant an additional $500,000 to organizations that assist with educational needs. Agencies include the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, Greening of Detroit, Community Legal Resources, Detroit Parent Network, and the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development.

Funds Uses

Big concerns, especially for minority students and their parents, are life-skills transitions and employment post-school. To that end, grant monies will provide job training, particularly in "green" careers. Funds will support business development and entrepreneurial classes for immigrant and minority students. Financial counseling, specifically in pre-foreclosure efforts, will be available. Organizations will partner with the Department of Human Services to put an educational coach at Western High School that minority families can access.

Part of Larger District Objectives

Detroit Public Schools' population has shrunk to 50,000 students. In the last decade, two-thirds of students moved, taking educational funds with them. WWJ/Associated Press reports that Detroit Public Schools' emergency manager Roy Roberts unveiled a five-year strategic plan, "Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools," in April. This initiative seeks to make schools into community hubs. The district will offer free pre-kindergarten classes for 4-year-olds. Some buildings will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week, providing services for families. Security will be improved. These programs rely on donations and community support. Roberts hopes to announce donations from other organizations soon, says the Detroit Free Press.

Marilisa Sachteleben is a teacher and Michigan native who writes about education in her state's most pivotal city of Detroit.

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