The Kresge Foundation has announced the launch of a five-year, $20 million childhood development initiative aimed at unlocking the potential of young children in Detroit.
The Kresge Early Years for Success Initiative (KEYS: Detroit) will promote the healthy development of Detroit children by investing in high-quality early childhood centers, funding neighborhood collaborations focused on early childhood development, supporting early childhood workers, and redesigning the infrastructure that helps support young children in the city. To achieve those ends, the initiative will focus on five areas: investments in new, comprehensive early childhood centers; below-market loans to improve early childhood development facilities and maternal healthcare services; grants to support neighborhood early childhood collaborations and early childhood practitioners; investments aimed at attracting national early childhood expertise to Detroit; and, in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the creation of a leadership alliance that will bring together stakeholders from across the city to develop an action framework and strategic investments benefiting the city's youngest children.
In recent weeks, KEYS: Detroit has awarded more than $4 million to IFF (formerly known as the Illinois Facilities Fund, a nonprofit investor that works in Detroit neighborhoods), including a $3 million program-related investment to create the Detroit Quality Fund, a low-interest loan program that will invest in viable early childhood centers in need of renovation and/or expansion, as well as other facilities serving young children in southeastern Michigan; a $300,000 grant to provide technical and capacity-building assistance to would-be borrowers; and a $760,000 grant to support the planning, development, and design of up to three state-of-the-art early childhood centers in Detroit.
Additional early investments by the foundation include grants of $100,000 to Data Driven Detroit in support of its efforts to develop a digital data set that benchmarks outcomes for young children from across the region; $50,000 to Third Sector New England to support strategic planning and capacity building at the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative; and $15,000 to the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the major sources of federal and state funding available to early childhood programs.
"We will know Detroit is on the path to a full turnaround when there is evidence that its children are safe and healthy and when they are academically, emotionally, and developmentally ready to begin school," said Kresge Foundation president and CEO Rip Rapson. "But that is not the case now. With only 14 percent of Detroit children estimated to be kindergarten-ready and more than two-thirds living in poverty, we have a crisis that reverberates from generation to generation. We have to break the grip of this invidious cycle and provide our youngest residents with every full opportunity to thrive."