Engage Detroit Workshops Grant Program

The Engage Detroit Workshops grant program supports small teams of U-M faculty, staff, students, and community partners in organizing workshops that will strengthen partnerships between the University of Michigan and Detroit.

The 2024 round of funding is supporting projects through August 2025. You can review the list of awardees below.

Clear the Air: Community Workshops for Public Health

Project leads: Barbara Israel, Professor, Department of Health Behavior Health Education; Natalie Sampson, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Health Behavior Health Education & Associate Professor, Department of Health and Human Services, University of Michigan-Dearborn (Lead Faculty Contact); Alison Walding, Project Manager

Community partners: Angie Reyes, Executive Director, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation; Simone Sagovac, Project Director, Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition; Kathryn Savoie, Director of Equity and Environmental Justice, Ecology Center (Lead Community Contact); Donele Wilkins, CEO and President, Green Door Initiative

Description: This project aims to address air pollution and environmental justice issues in Detroit. The project builds on existing partnerships with the Clear the Air Coalition (CAC) and Community Action to Promote Health Environments (CAPHE) to engage and educate the community. The goals of the project are to build on existing community-centered initiatives, engage and build knowledge, skills, and power in the community, and improve indoor air quality for at least 80 households. The project will host a series of workshops in the summer of 2024 to educate Detroit residents about poor air quality, facilitate discussions on public health issues, teach residents how to build DIY air filters, and provide materials to build 80 DIY home air filters.

Detroit River Education

Project leads: David Porter, Professor of English Language and Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, College Literature, Science, and the Arts; Kim Lijana, Director, Center for Educational Outreach, University of Michigan; Ebony Thomas, Associate Professor of Education, University of Michigan

Community partners: Belle Isle Conservancy, Black to the Land, Brain Health Arts, Charles Wright Museum, City of Detroit, Detroit Community Sailing Center, Detroit Historical Society, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Detroit Zoological Society, Detroit / Wayne County Port Authority, Friends of the Rouge, Healthy Kidz, Inc., Inland Seas Education Association, James & Grace Lee Boggs School, Lansing Public School District, Mapache Medicine Forest School, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State University, Michigan Underground Railroad Exploratory Collective, Outdoor Adventure Center, Ross & Contemporaries, LLC, Take One Community Program, University Liggett School, Urban Forest School

Description: This project aims to enhance narrative-based river education by organizing gatherings for a coalition of university and community stakeholders. It will bring together participants to learn, plan, and reflect on place-based learning programs. The project seeks to strengthen partnerships with Detroit-area organizations, focusing on developing capacity for related academic year activities. The goal is to create a comprehensive educational experience that involves hands-on activities, discussions, and collaborations. The project will end with a final planning session and potential experiential learning on the Detroit River.

Semester in Detroit: Detroiters Speak Justice in Public Education Edition – Expanding Our Community Classroom

Project leads: Stephen Ward, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, Director of the Semester in Detroit Program in the Residential College and Associate Professor in the Residential College, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Craig Regester, Student Affairs Program Manager, Residential College and Lecturer II in the Residential College, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Rose Gorman, Lecturer I in the Residential College and Semester in Detroit Program Manager, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts 

Community partners: The James and Grace Lee Boggs School, Detroit is Different, 482Forward, LEAP program, Department of African-American Studies at Wayne State University

Description: This project explores education justice within Detroit’s diverse school landscape, including charter, traditional public, and others. The series will expand its audience to include faculty from the Boggs School and high school students from 482Forward, bringing new perspectives to discussions on public education in Detroit. The collaboration builds on the successful 2017 Detroiters Speak series, Toward Education Justice, and seeks to continue learning from past experiences.

Engineering Detroit’s Future: Empowering Detroit’s Next Generation through Engineering Exploration

Project leads: Leia Stirling, Associate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering and Associate Professor of Robotics, College of Engineering; Albert S. Berahas, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, College of Engineering; Patricia Alves-Oliveira, Assistant Professor of Robotics, College of Engineering

Community partners: National Society of Black Engineers Detroit Professionals, Detroit Educational Takeover (DET), Focus HOPE, DAPCEP, Girls Group

Description: This project is a workshop series that introduces high school students in the Detroit area to the disciplines of Industrial & Operations Engineering (IOE) and Robotics (ROB). The two-day sessions cover topics from cognitive and physical human factors to designing robots and machine learning. The initiative aims to inspire students to explore these fields and deepen ties with the Detroit community. Comprehensive evaluations throughout the program will track the reach and impact of the workshops and guide their evolution into a lasting legacy of innovation and collaboration.

Navigating Technology to Help Detroit Youth Prepare for College and Careers

Project leads: Trina Shanks, Harold R Johnson Collegiate Professor of Social Work and Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work; Kim Lijana, Director, Center for Educational Outreach, University of Michigan; 

Community partners: Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, The Employment Equity Learning and Action Collaborative (EELAC), Detroit Public Schools Community School District, Detroit College Access Network

Description: This project aims to build on the success of Grow Detroit’s Youth Talent (GDYT) summer youth employment program to assist all DPSCD students in preparing for college and careers. It involves employing 8100 Detroit youth aged 14-24 for a 6-week job experience, focusing on career exposure and job readiness. The project also aims to engage students with the Xello platform, an online program for career development, by working with lead agencies within the GDYT program and holding workshops. Expected outcomes include protocols for GDYT youth to complete state career development requirements, talking points and examples for utilizing the Xello platform, and workshop evaluations for future use of best practices.

By Privilege and By Force: Studying Movement and Place-keeping in the West Village

  • Project leads: Damani Partridge, professor of anthropology, professor of Afro-American and African studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Malika Stuerznickel, graduate student research assistant, graduate student instructor, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Faith Bailey, graduate student, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Community partners: Ajara Alghali, Temate Institute for Black Dance and Culture 
  • Description: The project is dedicated to studying the changes happening in the West Village neighborhood of Detroit. The focus is on how economic investment and demographic shifts are affecting long-time residents, particularly the predominantly Black community. It intends to record the community’s history and experiences through public installations, an oral history archive, and an analysis of movement patterns. The project raises concerns about how changes in the neighborhood might impact residents, such as prioritizing dog-related amenities over community well-being and how young people are perceived as outsiders. By gathering stories and analyzing movements, the project aims to gain insight into the neighborhood’s past and present from the perspectives of various generations of residents.

Papa Was Project: Exploring Fatherhood in Detroit

  • Project leads: Richard M. Tolman, professor of social work, School of Social Work; Sonia Harb, Detroit engagement strategist, School of Social Work; Feodies Shipp III, associate director, UM Detroit Center
  • Community partners: Sam Donald, Detroit Musix; Marcus Hille, Parent Think Thank; Willie Bell, Famly Assistance for Renaissance Men; John Miles, Children’s Center; Bomani Gray, Metro Detroit Father Policy Group
  • Description: The project aims to conduct interactive workshops in Detroit that are geared toward fathers. Through the use of arts, entertainment, and popular culture, the project hopes to promote positive paternal involvement and spark discussions on the role of fathers in Detroit families. This project builds on their previous collaboration, where they gathered stories from Detroit fathers about their experiences and challenges in parenting. The workshops will include a documentary preview, a conversation on the impact of TV dads, an exploration of how advertising portrays fatherhood, and a stand-up comedy showcase featuring Detroit comedians who will incorporate their fatherhood experiences.

Detroit River Education

  • Project leads:  David Porter, professor of English and Comparative Literature, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Kim Lijana, director, Center for Educational Outreach (CEO); Ebony Thomas, co-chair of the Joint Program in English and Education (JPEE), associate professor, College of Marsal Family School of Education
  • Community partners: Detroit Historical Society, the Wright Museum, the DNR’s Outdoor Adventure Center, Michigan Underground Railroad Exploratory Collective, the Green Door Initiative, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and the Belle Isle Conservancy
  • Description: The project aims to utilize the Detroit River for experiential learning, strengthening partnerships, and expanding narrative-based river education. Currently, the Detroit River Skiff & Schooner Program has provided hands-on learning experiences for over 600 students. The program includes sailing on tall ships, building wooden skiffs, studying river life, and exploring historical narratives. The project seeks funding to organize three gatherings that will learn from other water-based experiential learning programs, advance long-term planning, and provide experiential learning opportunities for adult partners.

Detroit Land Lab

  • Project leads: Lisa DuRussel, associate professor of practice, School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS); Melanie Manos, lecturer IV in art and design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design; Nana Temple, graduate student, School for Environment and Sustainability
  • Community partners: Tanya Stephens, Detroit Vacant Land, Community Development Corporation
  • Description: The Detroit Land Lab initiative strives to assist residents in tackling the difficulties they encounter when dealing with government programs to acquire vacant land in Detroit. Its objective is to equip locals with resources and guidance on how to obtain and convert vacant land using established procedures by the Detroit Land Bank. This involves aiding with design methods, plot plan development, and brainstorming innovative land use projects. The ultimate aim is to empower community members, promote lasting transformation, and restore land ownership to Detroit residents through cooperative initiatives and community empowerment

Getting Investment Ready: Financial Coaching for Detroit Small Businesses

  • Project leads: Cathy Shakespeare, associate dean for Teaching and Learning, Arthur Andersen professor of accounting, associate professor of accounting, College of Stephen M. Ross School of Business; Christie Baer, assistant executive director, Center on Finance, Law & Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; Paul Steih, senior Global Client Service Partner (GCSP), College of Stephen M. Ross School of Business
  • Community partners: Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., TechTown, Jefferson East, Inc., Eastdie Community Network
  • Description: The Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project (DNEP) is teaming up with the Ross School of Business, U-M alumni, and Detroit-based business service organizations to create two 2-hour workshops for small businesses in Detroit. These workshops are designed to help improve financial management skills and increase access to capital. Key learning objectives will include understanding financial statements, budgeting, bookkeeping, making hiring decisions, and utilizing break-even and start-up cost analyses for funding pitches. The workshops will be held at different organizations throughout Detroit, with additional support from local partners. After the workshops, business owners will have the opportunity to receive individual consultations with student accounting consultants to provide further assistance

Taking it to the Street – Art, Agency, and Community 

  • Project leads: Anna Muller, associate professor of history, Department of Social Sciences, UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; Paul Draus, professor of sociology and anthropology, Department of Behavioral Sciences, UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; Kristin Palm, assistant director of communications, UM-Dearborn Office of Communications
  • Community partners: InsideOut Literary Arts, Youth Justice Fund
  • Description: The “Art & Agency from the Inside Out” workshop series will be expanded to community venues in Detroit during the Fall and Winter of 2023/2024. The workshops are an extension of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, bringing together UM-Dearborn students, staff, faculty, previously incarcerated individuals, and community members. Led by practicing artists, these workshops use various art forms to encourage introspection, discussion, sharing, and collaboration. The aim is to establish a deeper presence in Detroit, broaden the audience, and increase the workshops’ impact by partnering with Inside-Out Literary Arts and Youth Justice Fund. Engage Detroit and matching funds will facilitate eight artist-led workshops in community spaces, targeting Detroit residents, including those previously incarcerated, youth, policymakers, law enforcement, and advocates.

The Best Classroom Project

  • Project leads: Dara Hill, professor of education operations, UM-Dearborn College of Education, Health, and Human Services; LaShorage Shaffer, associate professor of education, UM-Dearborn College of Education, Health, and Human Services; DeLean Tolbert Smith, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, UM-Dearborn College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Community partners: Best Classroom Project, Detroit Parent Network
  • Description: This project seeks to assist families in Detroit in making informed school choices for their children and to provide support to local youth with college admissions. The program is designed to target specific populations and will offer a series of workshops and lectures covering various aspects of school choice in Detroit, including application processes, different grade levels, and college admissions. The aim of the series is to raise awareness about the quality of education in Detroit, increase enrollment in local schools, and establish the University of Michigan’s role in supporting school choice decisions and encouraging underrepresented Detroit youth to apply to the university’s programs.

Visualizing Migration – Translating Detroit 

  • Project leads: Kristin Dickinson, associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Yopie Prins, professor of English language and literature, professor of comparative literature, Irene H Butter Collegiate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Michael Pifer, professor of Armenian language and literature, assistant professor of middle east studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Community partners: Arab American National Museum
  • Description: This project intends to enhance the mission of Translating Michigan website by concentrating on two particular areas in Detroit. The first area focuses on creating a project page named “The Middle East in Metro Detroit” that will record the histories of Middle Eastern migrant communities and develop an interactive story map on the website. The project requires funding to conduct workshops, facilitate student research at community archives, and host a launch event at the Arab American National Museum. The second area involves working with muralist Elton Monroy Durán in Southwest Detroit to curate a virtual tour of his murals, with the inclusion of archival materials and community interviews. These audiovisual materials will be presented on the website with teaching resources and inaugurated with a public event at Wayne State University.

Activating Alleys, Lots, and Hubs: Local Lessons in Grassroots Innovation

  • Project leads: Paul Draus, professor of sociology, and Jacob Napieralski, professor of geology, UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, and Christopher Pannier, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, UM-Dearborn College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Community partner(s): Alkebu-lan Village, Birwood House, Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corporation, Rescue MI Nature Now, Mama Akua House
  • Description: This series of locally hosted, participatory problem-solving workshops will bring grassroots community leaders together with UM faculty and students engaged in projects related to alley activation; repurposing of once-vacant lots; and connecting community hubs with self-determination in mind. Participants will experience walking-talking tours of case study sites in each host community, as well as structured table discussions of critical questions, research opportunities and development strategies.
  • Workshop Dates: August 5, 2022; August 11, 2022; and October 27th, 2022

Bringing Together Women of Color in Detroit’s Environmental Justice Movement & Building Leaders for Action

  • Project leads: Carmel Price, associate professor of sociology, UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, Natalie Sampson, associate professor of public health, UM-Dearborn College of Education, Health, and Human Services, Amani Abuelenain, undergraduate student, UM-Dearborn, and Zeina Reda, undergraduate student, UM-Ann Arbor
  • Community partner(s): Laprisha Berry Daniels, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Theresa Landrum, Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit, Samra’a Luqman, Southend Dearborn resident and activist, and Hana Masri, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services
  • Description: We plan to hold a one-day event on the theme of environmental justice, with a focus on the leadership of youth and women of color, particularly those from Black, Arab, and Latina communities. The day will include panels, workshops, performances, and a screening of the short film “Pollution Has No Boundaries,” depicting toxic tours and the disproportionate environmental impacts of industry on communities of color in Detroit.
  • Workshop Date: July 23, 2023

Building a Sustainable Water Future for Detroit: Infrastructure, Climate, Resilience, Restoration, and Social Equity

  • Project leads: Bill Currie, professor and associate dean for Research and Engagement, School for Environment and Sustainability, Virginia Wilkinson, Deputy Director and Program Manager, School for Environment and Sustainability, Barbara Israel, professor and director, Urban Research Center
  • Community partner(s): Jefferson East, Inc., Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
  • Description: This is a one-day workshop in Detroit focused on water infrastructure, climate change-induced flooding and climate resilience, river restoration, and access to healthy water, with a strong theme of water equity and environmental justice. The workshop participants will develop a consensus statement of water infrastructure, restoration, and equity issues together with a list of action strategies that U-M faculty and community organizations can consider pursuing together.
  • Workshop Dates: May 12, 2023

Detroit Reuse Collective: A Workshop Bridging Material Reuse and Housing in Detroit

  • Project leads: Cyrus Penarroyo, assistant professor of architecture, De Peter Yi, lecturer and 2018-2019 Walter B. Sanders Research Fellow, and Laura Peterson, lecturer, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Community partner(s): James and Grace Lee Boggs Center/Council, Peace Tree Parks, Recycle Here!, and Adaptive Construction
  • Description: The Detroit Reuse Collective is a proposed workshop that highlights and supports the small-scale efforts of Detroit residents in renovating properties obtained from the Detroit Land Bank Authority into future homes and community gathering spaces. Inspired by the tradition of barn-raising as both a celebration and an act of building together, the workshop will facilitate dialogue and sharing of ideas and resources through collective making.
  • Workshop Dates: February 4, 2023

Greenprint Detroit: Advancing Ecological Literacy through the Lens of Legacy Soils

  • Project leads: Lisa Du Russel, assistant professor of practice, landscape architecture, and Nana Temple, graduate student, School for Environment & Sustainability
  • Community partner(s): Amanda Paige and Katrina Watkins, Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corporation
  • Description: This project aims to advance ecological literacy of the community members of the McDougall-Hunt Neighborhood (bounded by Gratiot, Vernor, and Mt. Elliot) on Detroit’s east side. This engagement project will consist of two workshops in Summer 2022, focused on the history and existing condition of neighborhood soils as a theme for education, exploration, and action. The major outcome of this work will be a change in attitudes towards science/research/ecology through participation in citizen science. The intention is that the materials used and created for this effort will generate transferable knowledge to other Detroit communities.
  • Workshop Dates: July 12, 2022; July 16, 2022; August 28, 2022; October 8, 2022;
    October 10, 2022; and March 25, 2023

Making Change through Making Art

  • Project leads: Victoria Shaw, Detroit School Partnerships Lead, Katrin Robertson, lecturer in teacher education, School of Education, and James Leija, deputy director for public experience and learning, U-M Museum of Art
  • Community partner(s): Yvette Rock, Live Coal Gallery, Chandrika Williams, The School at Marygrove
  • Description: Making Change through Making Art will bring together Detroit-based visual artists with students from Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) in a series of art-making workshops and a Community Conversation to explore how engaging with visual arts can promote social justice activism. The workshop series will culminate with a Community Conversation featuring Detroit students, teachers, and artists in conversation with staff from UM Museum of Art (UMMA) and UM School of Education (SOE) about how art practice can accelerate social change. This project will strengthen links among the Detroit arts, DPSCD, and UM communities by deliberately centering the expertise, learning, and talents of Detroit youth, artists, and teachers. This disrupts usual patterns of university scholars speaking for or reporting on partners and instead centers Detroit voices as expert and significant.
  • Workshop Dates: May 17, 2023

Trauma-Informed Programs and Practices in Schools (TIPPS) for Early Childhood (TIPPS-EC)

  • Project leads: Todd Herrenkohl, Marion Elizabeth Blue professor of children and families, Daicia Price, clinical assistant professor of social work, School of Social Work, and Alison Miller, professor of health behavior and health education, School of Public Health
  • Community partner(s): Development Centers
  • Description: Early childhood (EC) settings play a vital role in shaping the health and well-being of young children, and EC professionals are essential partners in mitigating the negative impacts of exposure(s) to chronic stress and trauma on early childhood development. Yet, EC centers and professionals are overburdened and lack trauma-informed professional development opportunities. We propose to build on our extant work on systemic approaches to trauma-informed schools (TIPPS) to develop and deliver at least 2 workshops in partnership with Detroit-based EC community partners who have requested such training, to focus on using systemic approaches to mitigate the impacts of trauma exposure for young children.
  • Workshop Dates: August 22, 2022; September 23, 2022; October 28, 2022; and
    November 18, 2022

*Access the full report by clicking on the image associated with each topic.


Making Change through Making Art – Final Report

“Twenty Detroit Public Schools high school students at The School at Marygrove participated in a semester-long elective course focused on creating social-justice focused art with seven Detroit-based artists and featuring over 50 hours of hands-on art practice, as well as learning about artists, art theory, and social justice issues and frameworks with their classroom teacher.”


Detroit Reuse Collective – Final Report

“In designing the workshop, we sought to mirror the way we see architecture as a means to build relationships. Build a Chair = Reframe a House allowed us to bring in community partners who provided resources for reuse in Detroit to support participants.”


Greenprint Detroit:
Advancing Ecological Literacy through the Lens of Legacy Soils
Final Report

“Using the framework of this project, we leveraged the opportunity to explore and advance ecological literacy as an effective tool and intervention for climate change resiliency, and as a strategy for envisioning neighborhood vacant land as vibrant spheres of public life within the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood on Detroit’s east side – all through the lens of legacy soils.”


Trauma-Informed Programs & Practices for Early Childhood ContextsFinal Report

“We partnered with Detroit Centers Head Start to hold workshops highlighting the impact of trauma in early childhood, focusing on early childhood educator perspectives and resilience. We adapted TIPPS training materials for educational settings serving children ages 0-5 years and their families, drawing on developmental, social work, and educational expertise.”


Activating Alleys, Lots, & Hubs: Local Lessons in Grassroots Innovation Final Report

“The “Alleys, Lots and Hubs” workshops considered alleys, vacant lots, and community houses or hubs as spaces with the potential to transform the social environment while enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services and offsetting gentrification and displacement.”

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