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Study: Detroit foundations shouldn’t just listen to community groups. They should let them lead.

downtown detroit
flickr user Tim Wang
Some community activists say philanthropic donors should involve community members when it comes to deciding how their dollars are spent in Detroit neighobrhoods.

Philanthropic groups have played a central role in helping Detroit recover from the depths of bankruptcy.

But has that philanthropic giving been too “top down” and not enough “bottom up”? And has it done enough to bring grassroots and neighborhood groups into the conversation about what is needed and how those dollars can be best used?

A new report from Allied Media Projects and Detroit People’s Platform presents two years of research into these questions. It is titled: “Changing the Conversation: Philanthropic Funding and Community Organizing in Detroit.”

Jenny Lee of the Allied Media Projects, Linda Campbell of the Detroit People’s Platform and the Building Movement Project, and Edward Egnatios from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation joined Stateside to discuss 12 recommendations they say philanthropic organizations should adopt to shift their approach in Detroit.

According to Campbell, Detroit's recent bankruptcy and the emergency management left a lot of the community out of the process of reshaping the city's future. This report was written to highlight the importance of the community having a stake in the vision for that future.

“Development dollars alone are not enough to address the deep rooted and systemic problems that neighborhoods are grappling with,” Lee said. “There has to be a way to say, first of all, what is this neighborhood’s vision for its own future?"

Listen above for the whole conversation.

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