Today, the Michigan Chronicle hosted Pancakes and Politics 2017 at the Detroit Athletic Club to discuss strategies to boost Detroit’s recovery with the topic of “The Road to Rebuilding Detroit: The Foundation Community Provides Their Perspective.”

Panel guests included David Egner, President & CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, Mariam Noland, President of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan, Tonya Allen, President & CEO of the Skillman Foundation, Rip Rapson, President & CEO of the Kresge Foundation and Melanca Clark, President & CEO of the Hudson Weber Foundation.

Ensuring that Detroiters play a significant role in the city’s rebirth was the common theme of many of the audiences’ questions during today’s breakfast. Attendees like Rochelle Riley, award-winning Detroit Free Press columnist, asked panelists why Detroit schools are failing even with such large investments being made in the city.

Rip Rapson believes the answer to Riley’s question is about more than just money. “I think if we knew money was the solution, we would’ve done that… I think we have to figure out as a community what we want and how to do it.”

Detroiters have a long history of community organizing to fight for efforts to improve schools, eradicate racism and bring opportunities to the city. It is in this history, Tonya Allen believes, we will find a solution.

“We do not have a funding source that is coming from our community. We need to mobilize as a community and make that a priority. Right now in our city, we are funding things that we would’ve never thought of funding. These resources are being distributed in a very different way than in previous generations. We’ve been looking to the philanthropic community to support those things,” Allen said.

A vital component of solving Detroit’s fiscal issues, Allen feels, also includes inspiring a positive shift in the way Detroiters think approach finding viable solutions.

“I think it’s time we make a generational declaration that this is not too hard for us to do… We can really do hard shit! It is time for us to get in alignment and make some investments. If we all did it together there can be major shifts at the state level regardless of political party.”

Allen added, “We don’t need small fixes. We need big fixes and big fixes require big funding.”

The next Pancakes and Politics 2017 will be held on May 18. For more information about the next Pancakes and Politics 2017 and to purchase tickets, go to michronicleonline.com.

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