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Detroit wins Bloomberg Philanthropies grant, to compete for $5 million

The city of Detroit is launching a new career mentorship program at five of its high schools after winning $100,000 from the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge and earning a spot as one of 35 “champion cities” competing for up to $5 million in grants.

The program is part of Grow Detroit’s Young Talent and was selected from a competitive pool of 320-plus applicants, according to the nonprofit group, which encompasses all charitable giving from businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Launched in 2015 as an initiative to place students on a successful career path, Grow Detroit’s Young Talent pitched the nonprofit a new idea: pair students with career specialists embedded in high schools.

“Funding was the last piece of the puzzle,” said Ryan Friedrichs, the city’s director of development and grants who wrote the proposal to Bloomberg.

The city is using the grant money to place a total of five career specialists at Osbourne, Cody, Randolph, Western International and Benjamin Carson high schools. Those specialists are in the process of recruiting 400 students for the program, which will offer more focused support and access to employer-sponsored co-ops and internships.

Friedrichs said the city’s mentorship model is based off the Boston Private Industry Council, which is a nonprofit that connects Boston’s youth to its workforce. It will also be studied by University of Michigan researchers to determine program outcomes.

“We are tremendously excited,” Friedrichs said. “We believe this is one of the better-run youth development programs in the country.”

Last summer, Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program enrolled 8,127 young adults for summer work with local employers. More than 30 local businesses and organizations raised $10 million for the program, including $1 million pledged by the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation and $500,000 by the Dresner Foundation.

Program selections by Bloomberg were based on four criteria: vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities.

Detroit will be joining the other cities in a six-month testing phase of their individual programs. In October, four of the 35 “champion cities” will be selected for $1 million awards, and one will win $5 million.

Bloomberg Philanthropies operates in 120 countries and distributed $600 million in 2016. It focuses on creating change in five areas: arts, education, environment, government innovation and public health.

Source: Crain’s Detroit Business

Photo Courtesy: Bloomberg Philanthropies