Our Donation to Detroit
The home of Assignment Detroit, a house in the city's West Village neighborhood that served as a residence for Time Inc.'s journalists during the yearlong project, will now have a new purpose. Time Inc.'s editors plan to sell the house and use the proceeds for a $100,000 donation toward the city's future: its young people. The editors have chosen four Detroit non-profit groups that devote themselves to the education and support of the city's youth to be the recipients of $25,000 grants. The four groups represent a mixture of national organization and grassroots initiative: Teach for America-Detroit, InsideOut Literary Arts Project, City Year Detroit and Covenant House Michigan. Said Time Inc. editor in chief John Huey: "What groups like these show is that people of good will haven't given up on Detroit -- especially not on its kids."
Assignment Detroit's five-bedroom, three-story home was not only the lodging for dozens of journalists from TIME, FORTUNE, PEOPLE, MONEY and CNNMoney.com and other company magazines and sites, but also the venue for events including hundreds of guests, including Mayor Dave Bing, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally. Time Inc. bought the house in the summer of 2009 for its asking price of $99,000 and is putting it on the market at the same price.
Detroit has many crying needs and worthy charities struggling to deal with them. But nothing has more to do with the city's hoped-for resurgence than its next generation, which sorely needs a hand. Nearly half of Detroit's children live in poverty and barely 3% of its fourth-graders meet national math standards. Each of the chosen groups takes an innovative approach to helping the city's youth:
• Teach for America-Detroit: The national corps of top college graduates, who commit to teaching stints in disadvantaged schools, is returning to the city after a six-year hiatus, bringing 100 teachers to serve in Detroit-area schools. After a frustrating effort in 2002-04, the group now recognizes that the city is serious about reform. "We're excited to return to Detroit and join the innovative efforts of leaders across the city," said Wendy Kopp, the group's founder and CEO, in making the announcement in May.
• InsideOut Literary Arts Project: This grassroots group, started in 1995 by poet Terry Blackhawk, offers in-school and after-school creative-writing programs taught by professional writers. One of its programs, Citywide Poets, was among those honored by the White House last year with its Coming Up Taller Award, which recognizes efforts to foster creativity among young people.
• City Year Detroit: The local outpost of a national organization, which brings a corps of young people together for a year of service, estimates that it works with more than 50 community groups and provides over 80,000 hours of service. In several Detroit schools, corps members provide tutoring, classroom support, craft classes and homework-help stations. (Time magazine has been a voice in favor of national service; managing editor Richard Stengel serves on the national group's board of trustees.)
• Covenant House Michigan: This sanctuary for young people provides shelter and support programs to help overcome the impact of unemployment, poor education, violence, drugs and gangs. Every year, the Detroit chapter serves more than 6,000 homeless and at-risk youth, with a stated goal "to redirect them onto a path toward meaningful and successful adulthood."
As these intrepid groups make life-changing contributions to Detroit's youth, they're changing the city for the better as well.
– Stephen Koepp, editor, Assignment Detroit