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Motor City Mapping Mini-Grants Come to a Successful Close

Mini-Grant3

By Stephanie Edlinger

Partners/Funders

  • Data Driven Detroit
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association
  • LOVELAND Technologies
  • Rock Ventures, LLC
  • Detroit Blight Removal Task Force
  • The Detroit Land Bank Authority
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • The Skillman Foundation

Data Driven Detroit’s (D3) Mini-Grant Program came to a successful close on Friday, December 12, marking a major milestone for an ambitious community engagement plan that launched in July of 2014 as part of the Motor City Mapping (MCM) project. Mini-Grant recipients were tasked with organizing residents to resurvey their neighborhoods, asking questions related to property condition and occupancy. Funding for the initiative was made possible through the generous support of The Kresge Foundation and The Skillman Foundation.

More than 70 Detroit-based community organizations applied for the program, administered by D3 and our parent affiliate, the Michigan Nonprofit Association. Fifteen finalists received mini-grant funds ranging from $1,000 to $15,000, or approximately $1 per parcel surveyed. At the end of eight weeks, the fifteen groups had assembled over 260 community members to successfully survey over 76,000 parcels in Detroit.

Lessons from the Field

Mini-Grant Recipients

  • Chandler Park Neighbors and Partners Association
  • Eastside Community Network
  • East English Village
  • GenesisHOPE Community Development Corporation
  • Lipke Park Advisory Council
  • Mack Avenue Community Church (MACC) Development Association
  • College Core Block Club
  • Mohican Regent Homeowners Association
  • Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit
  • PW Community Development Nonprofit Housing Corporation
  • Urban Neighborhood Initiatives
  • University District Radio Patrol
  • Vanguard Community Development Corporation
  • Wayne State University’s AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program

This type of technologically innovative field work can be challenging; however, the overall consensus at the end of the grant period was positive and hopeful. The Chandler Park Neighbors and Partners Association, for example, said that the Mini-Grant Program “empowered [their] organization to look at data in a new way when it comes to neighborhood mobilization and engagement.”

Furthermore, almost all of the organizations were able to use the funds to purchase new technology such as smart phones, tablets and computers that they otherwise would not have been able to acquire. Some organizations, such as the Vanguard Community Development Corporation, indicated that the funds actually “enabled several residents to become more confident in utilizing technology.” Vanguard also called attention to the importance of advocacy in the development of technology that is intended to serve neighborhoods.

We are also pleased to report that many of the grantees also intend to leverage the training and experience gained from the program to refresh their community strategies. Some organizations that had already taken on the responsibility of cleaning and maintaining properties in their area now have a fresh pool of funding for tools and supplies for their volunteers, while other groups will look to use the data to enhance grant applications and better plan for the future of their neighborhood. Many of the participants now report increased block club attendance and neighborhood engagement due to conversations started with curious residents while surveyors were in the field.

The D3 Tools Awareness Workshop

Due in large part to the responsiveness and enthusiastic engagement of the mini-grant recipients, D3 hosted a Tools Awareness Workshop on December 17th. Building on lessons from our previous workshops, we designed the event specifically to engage local community organizations around our online warehouse of free, interactive, neighborhood level tools.

From the feedback collected at the workshop, it is clear that community groups have both a demand for easily-accessible, neighborhood-level data and a need for increased exposure to these types of tools. We hope to continue to host these workshops in the coming year to create a venue for residents to interact with D3 data experts and learn about how they can use data to help their community. If you would like to attend one of these workshops or host a workshop within your organization, please contact D3 to make arrangements at askD3@datadrivendetroit.org.

For more information on Motor City Mapping, see our post from last May or visit www.motorcitymapping.org.

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