The Ballmer Group has announced a first round of grants in support of nonprofits in southeast Michigan working to give children and families living in poverty a chance to improve their economic status.
Grants totaling more than $16 million were awarded in support of organizations that are delivering cross-sector programs and services aimed at improving quality of life for children and families; strengthening neighborhoods in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties; and helping local governments advance policies and improve the lives of citizens through systems-level change.
"In making these initial commitments in southeast Michigan, we did not seek to create new programs or launch new initiatives," said Steve and Connie Ballmer in a statement. "We are dedicated to learning from organizations that are already effectively employing the levers of change we've seen work for neighborhoods, families, and individuals."
Ballmer, the wealthiest living native of Detroit, announced in September 2016 that he and his wife planned to donate a large part of their fortune to address intergenerational poverty in the city. They subsequently opened an office there in 2017 and hired Kylee Mitchell Wells as executive director. According to Crain's Detroit Business, the nineteen grant recipients include City Year Detroit, which will use the funds to scale a program that provides help to third-grade students in reading and math; Planned Parenthood of Michigan, which will use the funds to meet the need for reproductive health care and family social supports in the region; Mack Avenue Community Church Community Development Corp., which will use its grant to strengthen community-focused programs in education, workforce, commercial corridor strengthening, and housing; and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which will use the funds to promote broad census participation, especially among hard-to-reach populations, in the region.
In addition to unrestricted grants over five to ten years, the Ballmer Group is meeting on a regular basis with community stakeholders and partners, Mitchell Wells told Crain's Detroit. "We want to be more than just a financial resource to the community. [W]e also would like to be a resource of strategic alignment and partnering," she said. "You want to make sure that you're being reflective of what the community needs are and not your own internal thinking of what you deem those needs to be. Making sure you have all of those conversations, leveraging the actual data as well as the anecdotal data, is imperative."