Neighborhood-centered quality schools serve expanded needs of students, families and the community

Schools unite communities.

That’s the premise of Detroit Public Schools (DPS) efforts to house a wide variety of student, family and community support services within its local schools beginning this fall.

“Schools are widely used buildings,” said Emergency Manager Jack Martin. “So it’s only logical that we open them to the public, creating a place where neighborhood residents can meet to support education and overall community improvement efforts.”

The school hubs are a part of DPS’ 5-year strategic plan in which the district expanded its commitment to support Detroit families with the highest quality public education available and, ultimately, an educated regional workforce capable of driving the city’s economic rebirth.

More than 600 internal and external stakeholders helped to develop the transformative plan that includes more Pre-Kindergarten programs, new neighborhood-centered Community Schools, more Arts and Music enrichment classes, a new Parent University and Career Academies, according to DPS’ Martin.


This wider spectrum of its “Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools” programming is DPS’ commitment to listen and respond to the community’s evolving needs.

“The most important component of the DPS plan is that it was driven by the wants and desires of the community,” stated Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics of DPS.

The process began with an intensive five-week strategic planning process which involved parents, students, teachers, principals, staff, clergy, civic and community leaders and policy makers committed to working to help Detroit Public Schools better understand how to improve its performance and customer service, broaden services, and provide desired programs, all within a safe learning environment, according to Martin, who noted that participants helped drive decisions which ultimately lead to a better school system for the Fall.

“We have 97 neighborhood-centered, quality schools located throughout Detroit that have top-notch staffs, including dedicated principals and teachers, as well as clerical, instructional, food service and custodial staff that make our schools some of the best in the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan,” Martin stated.

“Detroiters, however, need to have confidence that when they send their children to Detroit Public Schools, they will get a high-quality education, in a safe environment. They also need to understand the full range of academic and enrichment programs that are available to help round out their child’s educational experience.”


The Strategic Plan will play out in ways big and small including new transportation routes to serve the needs of families, according to published reports.

“In addition to the major components of the plan, DPS is becoming more nimble to quickly address the needs of families – even creating new initiatives based on feedback during the district’s door-to-door August enrollment campaign,” said Ridgeway.

For families of the new Mark Twain School for Literary Scholars at 12800 Visger in Southwest Detroit, that means new transportation stops for River Rouge and Ecorse, and sections of Allen Park, Melvindale and Lincoln Park.

For Marcus Garvey Academy at 2301 Van Dyke, that means a new shuttle bus, providing transportation from Detroit’s northeast side. The shuttle promises to expose more families to the rich offerings at Garvey, including its Harambee Center, Parent Resource Center, Target Library Makeover, school clinic, renovated pool, urban garden programs and proximity to adjacent Butzel Family Center and playgrounds, along with the school’s meaningful partnership with Compuware Corp.

A new after-school Midtown Activities Shuttle will connect students of Burton International, Spain and Golightly Education Center to the activities offered at the three schools – including track, swimming, instrumental music – so the three schools together offer a more robust educational experience.


At every school, front office staff members have taken a Customer Service Pledge, recommitting themselves to putting the needs of parents and students first.

The plans are designed to dramatically change mindsets, and the district has pledged to be courageous and bold — and to plan to win.

“We know that, ultimately, these strategies, will improve academic outcomes for all children,” Martin said.

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