Look Where Kresge Just Committed $1.5 Million for Parks & Neighborhoods

The $3.5 billion Kresge Foundation has been working to improve neighborhoods in cities across America, but it has a soft spot for the city of Detroit, where it's made some historic commitments in recent years.

Parks are a big part of Kresge’s plan to revitalize Detroit’s neighborhoods, and this type of support dominated the last grant cycle.

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Kresge just committed $1.5 million to neighborhood projects in Detroit, and this second round of funding will be going to city-based nonprofits. Recently, the foundation has supported the installation of exercise “pocket parks” in central Detroit and developing the park and sculpture installation in North Corktown-Briggs.

But Kresge’s commitment to Detroit’s parks and neighborhoods is nothing new. The funder is in the midst of a $5 million, three-year initiative to strengthen local nonprofits in a post-bankruptcy environment.

This $1.5 million commitment will be split up into $50,000 and $150,000 grants for projects to begin in early 2016 and wrap up by mid-2017. Nonprofits that aren’t quite ready to break ground can also secure $25,000 planning grants for promising projects that catch Kresge’s attention. Kresge’s managing director of the foundation’s Detroit Program, Laura Trudeau, told Detroit News that it's actually looking for more planning projects in this next round so that implementations can begin in the third grantmaking round.

“The first round of this grant program proved that Detroit is filled with neighborhood leaders who have the commitment and imagination to plan and execute projects that will have a profound impact on the quality of life,” Trudeau said.

Although Kresge has a national community development effort, the primary concern is Detroit. This is typically an invitation-only affair that has supported several nonprofits in New York City, Boston, and lately, Philadelphia.

Like many cities, Detroit could make better use of vacant land and blighted buildings. Land use is a big part of Kresge’s parks and neighborhoods plan to drive density and rebuild a healthier community. As the foundation points out, Detroit covers 133.8 square miles of land, making it geographically larger than Boston, San Francisco, and Manhattan combined.

Other cities, such as Philadelphia, are pushing bike-sharing programs to get people to the parks, which have economy-boosting potential by making undeveloped neighborhoods more accessible and attractive. Perhaps something like this could have an impact in Detroit, too.

Related: Getting People to the Parks is One Reason This Foundation is Backing Bike Sharing

Interested local grantseekers should check out the Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit – Round 2 Application Guide document for detailed instructions. Kresge’s Detroit program page is a great place to start, too. Kresge is accepting applications for this program, which are due on November 24. We’re expecting to see a grants announcement for this next round in March 2016.