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New Detroit announces 2018 “Closing the Gap” honorees who positively impact racial equity and understanding in Metro Detroit 

 New Detroit, Inc. will honor one of the largest Native American-owned enterprises in the nation, a highly respected clergyman and community leader, and an organization focused on the development of young African American males at its annual “Closing the Gap” dinner Wednesday, June 20. 

“This year’s honorees have committed themselves to New Detroit’s mission of working to achieve racial understanding and racial equity over the long haul,” said New Detroit President and CEO Shirley Stancato.  “Each, in their own way, has moved racial affairs in our region forward in a significant manner and advanced New Detroit’s goal of closing the gap between the races.  We are pleased to be able to highlight their vital contributions to this community.” 

 The 2018 honorees are: 

  • John Rakolta Jr. Leadership in Race Relations Honoree:

    Reverend Larry L. Simmons, Sr.   

  • Social Impact Honoree:

    The Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy  

  • Business Honoree:

    Detroit Manufacturing Systems  

 William S. Taubman, chief operating officer of Taubman Centers, Inc., is serving as the event chair. Awards will be presented by Shirley R. Stancato, New Detroit president and CEO, and Rachel Tronstein Stewart, New Detroit chairman and president of Gardner-White Furniture.  

 Here is more information on this year’s honorees:  

 Rev. Larry L. Simmons, Sr.  

The Rev. Larry L. Simmons, Sr.  has lived a life of advocacy, beginning as a student radical pushing for change in the 1960s, as a staff member at the Detroit Urban League, as political director in the administration of Mayor Coleman A. Young, as an ordained pastor and, more recently, adding the duties of Executive Director of the Brightmoor Alliance. 

Through all these commitments, he also has found time to become a strong advocate in such other mission-driven volunteer activities as on the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren and the Hope Starts Here Coalition for Early Childhood.   

Simmons played a key role in the formation of the Brightmoor Alliance, a coalition of nearly 50 organizations which have come together to mobilize community resources and focus their combined efforts to revitalize the area. 

 As pastor of Baber Memorial A.M.E. Church, he’s deeply ingrained in the fabric of the community. Simmons has been devoted to empowering families from diverse backgrounds with the resources needed to thrive.  

 Simmons is well known known for his work within the community, including youth outreach programs.  “Young people need to know that someone is listening to them with a responsive ear,” he says.   

 Every year, Simmons hosts a summer program, Brightmoor Building STEAM, that brings together young Detroiters to collaborate on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics projects, leading up to a demonstration event that allows them to showcase work in a public setting. He also runs a summer youth employment program with about a dozen young people, who are paid for their time with funds from the Max and Marjorie Fisher Foundation.

 

The Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy 

The Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy (CATTA) is a Detroit-based organization that provides a comprehensive curriculum for young black male development. Established in 2008, CATTA draws inspiration from the Old Testament story of a cave near the town of Adullam, which became an anointed fortress of refuge for distressed men. Facing persecution, a young David fled to the cave seeking protection from King Saul.  

 CATTA uses exercises to teach the young men participating in its program how to be conscious of their mental health by exposing their inner feelings and experiences, heightening awareness of their state of mind and curbing their negative reactions to life’s challenges. Participants develop the mental and spiritual fortitude to circumvent the pitfalls of an inability to control or regulate their emotional response to provocative stimuli that can lead to life-altering consequences.   

 Since its launch, 78 percent of CATTA’s participants have improved their GPA without tutoring; 98 percent of parents have reported that their sons have grown spiritually and become more emotionally stable; 56 percent of parents reported a decrease in school suspensions and an increase in positive decision-making.  In addition, 100 percent of participants who were victims of physical bullying are no longer bullied and are now able to resist bullying without compromising their humanity. 

 Detroit Manufacturing Systems  

Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS) is a large-scale component manufacturing facility in Detroit that is helping to revitalize the city through significant job creation, currently employing more than 1,000 workers at its Detroit facility. It works to create sustainable career pathways for its employees by activating effective engineering and logistical practices that increase performance and profitability. Its success has led to a significant staff expansion that offers access to programs for professional development. 

 DMS was formed in 2012 and became the first comprehensive manufacturing facility brought to the city in decades.  Two-thirds of its 1,000 salaried and hourly team members are Detroit residents, establishing itself as an employment anchor. DMS also offers its employees tuition assistance for a wide range of higher education opportunities.  

 Andra Rush serves as DMS’s chair, CEO and president. She is the owner of Rush Group Limited LLC, a majority partner of DMS and has over 30 years of automotive industry experience. As one of the largest Native American-owned enterprises in the nation, under Rush’s leadership, DMS continues to answer the call to provide avenues for socio-economic advancement in marginalized communities.    

 The Closing the GAP Dinner will be held Wednesday, June 20 at Cobo Center.  Individual tickets are $200 and a range of sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, contact Joe Ann Walker at 313-664-2042, jwalker@newdetroit.org or visit www.newdetroit.org 

About New Detroit, Inc.  

New Detroit, Inc. is a racial justice organization comprised of leaders from civil rights and advocacy organizations, human services, health and community organizations, business, labor, foundations, education, media and clergy.  It provides a unique and valuable arena where leaders of these groups and organizations come together to plan cooperative strategies to address the issue of race and its many manifestations.  The coalition works as a catalyst to impact the actions of individuals and institutions by serving in a number of roles: advocate, convener, and facilitator. 

 It is a private, non-profit, tax-exempt organization. New Detroit’s mission statement: “New Detroit is a coalition of leaders working to achieve racial understanding and racial equity in Metropolitan Detroit.”  

 For more information visit: www.newdetroit.org 

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