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Outstanding Foundation Award

Ford Foundation has provided substantial support to Detroit since its founding in 1936, and has actively engaged community members and leaders to help the foundation advance its vision of social justice—“a world in which all individuals, communities, and peoples work toward the protection and full expression of their human rights; are active participants in the decisions that affect them; share equitably in the knowledge, wealth, and resources of society; and are free to achieve their full potential.” This mission of social justice challenges all of us to consider how we can create a more just world.

Ford Foundation has made more than $527 million in groundbreaking commitments to Detroit and Michigan, including $125 million over fifteen years to support the Grand Bargain; $4 million to provide core funding for the New Economy Initiative to support entrepreneurial growth throughout metropolitan Detroit; $3 million for the M-1 Rail (Q-Line) project; and many millions more to support cultural institutions, community development agencies and social justice organizations.

In 1990, the Ford Foundation created the Neighborhood and Family Initiative to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods by empowering local residents, developing local leadership, and mobilizing broad participation in neighborhood-based comprehensive development programs. In more recent years, grants to Detroit have funded community development work led by the Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, research projects by the University of Michigan, and the transformative RiverWalk project. In 2013, knowing that the city was losing much-needed federal grant money, Ford provided a grant that enabled the city to bring on an oversight team to better manage Detroit's federal funds and grants.

The foundation’s current work focuses on ensuring expanded opportunity for an empowered and engaged citizenry to continue the equitable recovery:

•       Supporting catalytic development projects to increase land value and promote development without displacement;

•       Building the civic engagement infrastructure to give community voice power in revitalizing Detroit;

•       Improving education conditions for Detroit youth to position them for future success;

•       Expanding diversity in media and arts to lift up stories and experiences from diverse communities;


Wayne State’s Detroit Revitalization Fellows (DRF) program would not have been possible without Ford Foundation’s generous support of $3 million. Since 2011, DRF has brought 69 talented mid-career leaders to Detroit to stimulate progress within Detroit’s civic, community and economic development landscape. This select group of doers engages in a rigorous two-year leadership development program while serving full time at organizations and in the Mayor of Detroit’s office working to further key programs and projects across the city and region.

It is Ford Foundation’s forward thinking, commitment to social justice, and their deep dedication to Detroit and the region that makes them an outstanding nominee for AFP’s 2016 Outstanding Foundation Award.