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Ford invests 5M in Ford Resource and Engagement Center at Detroit middle school

DETROIT, MI., October 06-2017–Chase Cantrell of Building Community Values and Amy Peterson of Rebel Nell, each received $25,000 grants at the opening of the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC). The grants were given to the two social ventures as part of FREC Accelerator, one of several outreach programs being held at the new community center. Presenting the checks are Shawn Wilson (Ford Motor Company Fund), James Feagin (FREC Accelerator) and Jim Vella (Ford Motor Company Fund). Photo by: Sam VarnHagen

Ford Motor Company Fund has invested $5M in a Detroit community center located at the Fisher Magnet Upper Academy middle school. The new Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC) is located on Detroit’s east side and aims to increase access to essential needs and services, as well as economic opportunities in one of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. The center will be managed by the Detroit Public Schools Foundation and programs will emphasize education, job training, workforce development, and investments focused on the next generation of Detroiters.

Ford and Ford Fund invest more than $20 million annually in education, job training, diversity, arts, culture and safe driving programs in Detroit and southeast Michigan. With the current $5M investment in this new FREC, the second of its kind in the city, services will be provided to thousands of students and residents in the area with the help of at least 18 nonprofit community groups (see list below). Services offered include a food distribution hub, legal assistance, job training and workforce development, and workshops supporting business startups. Ford’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) lab will also be available, providing the curriculum necessary for young people seeking high-demand jobs in the future.

“Our newest Ford Resource and Engagement Center represents our ongoing commitment to projects in neighborhoods that are transformational in nature,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund. “We want to harness the untapped potential in our schools and neighborhoods to help more people gain access to the benefits of a stronger, more prosperous Detroit.”

In addition to bolstering educational opportunities for area children and supporting local businesses, the new engagement center is helping bring the community together with arts, music and cultural activities to lift the quality of life for neighborhood residents. “You’ll have a portal for access to programming, not that you don’t have a lot of great groups in the area doing things, but this becomes a hub for all of those groups to use as well. So, a lot of nonprofits, block clubs and churches might be doing the best with what they have, this is a resource for them too,” said James Feagin, Entrepreneur in Residence at the FREC. The 10,000-square-foot facility features interactive and collaborative workspaces, as well as the main hallway inspired by social mobility and reimagined to look like a thriving Seven Mile Road through the community.

“The $5M goes to fund programs in this space which help to drive social mobility. So, we deliver programs in three buckets of basic needs: economic, growth and quality of life. And the goal is to move people through that pathway through economic mobility quality of life,” stated Shawn Wilson, manager of Ford Fund.

The original Resource and Engagement Center opened four years ago at Mexicantown Mercado in southwest Detroit and has become an anchor in the vibrant community, assisting more than 85,000 people with food distribution, tax return preparation, education and job initiatives, legal assistance and other programs. In addition, it has returned $3 in services to the local community for every $1 invested by Ford and participating nonprofits. A third Ford Resource and Engagement Center located in South Africa offers job training and entrepreneurial development, as well as services for families and orphans impacted by HIV and AIDS. Each center reflects the needs and culture of the communities it serves.

Nonprofit service providers at Ford Resource and Engagement Center:

Detroit Public Schools Foundation (lead partner)

Accounting Aid Society

Arts & Scraps

Bing Youth Institute

Eastside Free Legal Clinic

Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan

Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan

Henry Ford Learning Institute

Invest Detroit Group Ventures

Journi STEAM Lab


Lomas Brown Junior Foundation

St. John Hospital & Medical Center-St. John Providence

SER Metro-Detroit, Jobs for Progress

Southwest Solutions

The Jerome Bettis Bus Stops Here Foundation

University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship