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Earlier this year, Wolverine Human Services (WHS), announced the creation of The Den, one of Detroit’s first non-profit development accelerators – a collaborative, shared workspace for non-profit startups. The Den is located within WHS’ John S. Vitale Community Center, located at 2660 Dickerson Ave., on Detroit’s Eastside.

The non-profit sector accounts for more than 10 percent of the American workforce, but much like the for-profit sector, there is stiff competition for limited resources. Start-up agencies tend to rush through processes without strategic priorities.

“WHS’ commitment in helping children, combined with our expertise in non-profit business development, led to the idea of The Den,” said Matt Wollack, VP of strategic development. “The goal of The Den is simple: create an engine for non-profit businesses to transform great ideas into socially-conscious enterprises that serve the communities and neighborhoods of Detroit. Not only will The Den bring new businesses and jobs to the community, it will bring new services and programs to our neighbors,” he added.

The 2,400-square-foot co-working space of the Den offers shared or private workspace environments, conference areas, high-speed Internet access, a mailing address, support staff during business hours, access to the gymnasium, commercial kitchen and dining area, a community coffee and kitchen corner, and an optional incubation package, which provides professional mentoring, workshops and referral services to help launch a non-profit business.

The most basic Den membership rate is $25 per month, providing the member a mailing address and discounted entry to accelerator workshops. The $50 per month option provides members access to the drop-in co-working space, and other space rentals in the community center (gym, corporate kitchen, conference rooms), as well as a 50 percent discount on workshops. The agency level package starts at $1,000 per month and includes 10 membership licenses and unlimited access to the Den workshops and other amenities.

At the root of The Den’s business model is the opportunity for members and member agencies to engage in a service exchange relationship versus paying a fee. For example, in exchange for a monthly fee, a business could offer services to clients of WHS’ residential and community based programs. This model allows WHS to bring new programs and services to its youth clients, as well as to community members, that otherwise would not be available. The Art Foundation, founded by Detroit artist Tony Roko, will be The Den’s first member. WHS and Art Foundation are developing art events and programs that will be made available to WHS clients and the communities of Southeast Michigan.

“My painting career began on a Ford assembly line at age 19,” Roko said. “I’m an Italian immigrant and English was my second language. Painting allowed me to connect with others, and I want to use my skills and experience to demonstrate how art can break down barriers and create relationships. The Den will allow me to launch The Art Foundation to do just that.”

Rick Williams of Distinct Life curated the interior design and art installations. Those interested in utilizing The Den should visit http://www.growwiththeden.com.

About Wolverine Human Services

Wolverine Human Services is the largest foster care, adoption, and independent living agency, servicing youth and families in all 83 counties in Michigan. Founded on Detroit’s historic East Side in 1987, today WHS is the only agency in Michigan providing the full continuum of care to children. WHS’ programs focus on adolescents suffering from the social injustices of abuse and neglect, and those in the juvenile justice system, providing safety, sustenance, nurturing, and therapeutic intervention to children.

In Detroit, WHS serves youth from all over the state in its residential treatment facilty, the Wolverine Center. Additionally, WHS serves residents of the neighborhood at the John S. Vitale Community Center and Soup Kitchen with weekly food programs and community trainings.

Statewide WHS serves more than 10,000 families annually through their continuum of services, employs more than 600 people, and has more than 500 children in its care at all times.

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