A behind-the-scenes look into thirty years of unlikely partnerships, unique collaborations, varied financial tools, and bold bets led by The Kresge Foundation to catalyze a sustainable and equitable recovery for Detroit and all of its residents.

Book 1

Available April 2024

  • “…the story of one major American foundation finding its way in the modern landscape of foundations and of how, with many partners, it could 'promote human progress' in its home of Detroit.”

    Lee Bollinger, President Emeritus and Seth Low Professor, Columbia University & Former Kresge Foundation Trustee
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Chapter 1

A shared community vision

For close to fifty years, Detroit has held a peculiar fascination for American philanthropy. The prospect of reversing a steep and accelerating decline, a cause at once tantalizing and forbidding, has drawn a number of foundations into repeated, often unsatisfying, efforts at novel civic[1] philanthropic initiatives there. Like Kafka’s castle, the city’s unique history of triumphs and crises has loomed on the philanthropic horizon as alluring yet stubbornly impenetrable.

Millions of charitable dollars have been ventured to various ends in Detroit, including education reform, the arts, regional cooperation, nutrition and health, neighborhood redevelopment, economic revitalization, juvenile justice, and many others. Some of these contributed to improvements here and there, though for most of this history only a very few led to any fundamental shift in conditions that average Detroiters would experience. Several efforts flared and sputtered without leaving much of a trace.

Perennially wary of political entanglements and public controversy, funders not rooted in the city tended for decades to focus their projects narrowly, concentrating on just one or two aspects of urban life, such as health or urban planning or after-school programs…

Book 4

Available April 2024