The Kresge Foundation has awarded Wayne State University a $100,000, one-year grant to support CitizenDetroit, a community outreach program of the Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society (FOCIS).
Since its inception in 2012, CitizenDetroit has educated and mobilized residents of all ages, providing a framework for constructive political discourse. Community participants co-create the standards for evaluating political leadership and decisions made in Detroit.
CitizenDetroit is directed by Irvin D. Reid, inaugural holder of the Wayne State University Applebaum Chair in Community Engagement and President Emeritus, and his collaborative partner, former Detroit City Council member Sheila Cockrel.
“CitizenDetroit challenges the tendency of individuals to sit on the sidelines and oppose the actions of city leaders based solely on media coverage and urban legends,” said Reid. “Access to better information means citizens will better understand how difficult it is for elected and appointed leaders to make tough decisions that affect other people’s lives.”
The grant funds will support the ongoing efforts of CitizenDetroit to:
- Reach high-performance voters and first-time voters about historical myths and facts that may misguide community dialogue objectives.
- Inform influential older adult voters about entrenched policies that impede government’s ability to serve the needs of constituents or adapt to current economic, environmental and social challenges.
- Challenge youth and older adults to evaluate the actual policymaking dilemmas facing lawmakers today so as to create a cadre of informed civic and political activists.
“CitizenDetroit recognizes Detroit’s diverse stakeholders and promises to create platforms and spaces for vital discussions,” says Wendy Lewis Jackson, deputy director of The Kresge Foundation Detroit Program. “From transportation to public safety, there’s not an issue facing the city for which the solution doesn’t include an engaged public.”