The Kresge Foundation awarded $63.6 million in grants at its fourth-quarter board meeting in December, making the quarter, together with the $181 million in grants for 2008 as a whole, the most generous in the foundation's 85-year history.
"If ever there was a time for Kresge to put its resources on the line to help nonprofit organizations serving the poor and disadvantaged," says Elaine D. Rosen, chair of the board, "it is now. The magnitude of the economic contraction demands we be both creative and aggressive in our grantmaking."
The foundation made 19 grants to advance the five strategic objectives of Kresge's community development work in metropolitan Detroit, its home town: strengthening the downtown, revitalizing city neighborhoods, re-tooling the regional economy, supporting arts and culture, and enhancing the environment.
A $4 million grant to the College for Creative Studies is emblematic of the kind of investment the foundation believes will be central to re-invigorating the region's economic health. The grant will help complete a $145 million renovation and repurposing of the historic Argonaut Building in Detroit to house a new master's of fine arts program, undergraduate and graduate student housing, and a new charter middle school and high school focused on art and design that will serve the city's youth.
With the opening of the Argonaut Building, the College for Creative Studies, a fully-accredited, degree-granting institution, expects to create 200 new knowledge-economy jobs and expand its enrollment by 250 students with its new MFA program.
"The College for Creative Studies' restoration of the Argonaut is an extraordinary example of a project that ripples in multiple ways beyond the immediate needs of the educational institution," says Rip Rapson, president of the foundation. "It will contribute momentum to the Woodward Corridor's increasingly dynamic creative economy. It will signal the importance of directing investment to the Corridor's historic physical infrastructure. And it will provide a vital updraft for young people aspiring to enter careers in the design professions. We are tremendously excited at its promise on all fronts."
Kresge's Health Program is working to improve the environmental conditions that disproportionately contribute to chronic health problems among low-income populations. It also supports efforts to both increase access to health care and improve the quality of care for the poor and disadvantaged.
Lead abatement is one such effort. Building upon a previous grant in September 2008 to the Get the Lead Out Initiative, the board awarded multi-year grants to Alameda County Community Development Agency in Oakland, California ($225,000); the Department of Family and Child Well-Being in Newark, New Jersey ($1.5 million); and the Detroit offices of the Michigan Department of Community Health ($55,000) and the Southeastern Michigan Health Association (two grants totaling $900,000), in support of efforts to decrease and eventually eliminate lead poisoning in children.
To complement the lead abatement work, a multi-year award of $180,000 was made to Greensboro Housing Coalition in Greensboro, North Carolina, in support of its nationally recognized program to improve health by improving overall housing conditions.
"Healthy housing should be a given for families and individuals at all income levels," Rapson adds. "Greensboro is quite innovative in its approach, using nurses and social workers to identify potential health risks, contractors that employ healthy work practices while making repairs, and evaluation methods to measure the changes in housing and health conditions."
Climate change is the over-arching priority of the Environment Program. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment, accelerate the adoption of renewable energy technologies, and assist in the development of adaptation strategies.
A $5 million grant to the Energy Foundation of San Francisco expands its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings - the cause of approximately 40 percent of carbon emissions in the United States. The multi-year grant enables the Energy Foundation to advance national and state building codes and appliance standards. It also assists in advancing the twin objectives of increasing utility investments in energy efficiency and spurring the adoption of renewable energy policy, particularly in the Midwest and Southern states.
"The Kresge Foundation has been an early and ardent proponent and funder of environmentally sustainable construction and renovation projects in the nonprofit sector," explains Rapson. "We understand the built environment. Through the work of the Energy Foundation, we are able to extend our reach and influence to address the fundamental issues necessary to propel a shift to energy efficiency and sustainability within our nation's building infrastructure."
Advancing adaptation strategies is the focus of multi-year grants made to the Conservation Biology Institute ($1,020,000) in Corvallis, Oregon, and the Center for Resource Economics-Island Press ($600,000) in Washington, D.C. In collaboration with other partners, the Conservation Biology Institute will create an open-access Web database - the Data Basin Climate Center - that will standardize the format and centralize the climate-change related data submitted and used by researchers, policymakers, practitioners and others interested in the field.
Island Press, the nonprofit publishing house for the Center for Resource Economics, is partnering with EcoAdapt, a nonprofit organization dedicated to climate change adaptation issues, to build a Web-based Climate Adaptation Knowledge Environment that will gather, synthesize and disseminate knowledge and informational tools on adaptation to climate change for practitioners as well as create an online environment for users to share information. The Data Basin Climate Center (mentioned above) will be one of the resources available to users.
Awards also were made to arts and culture organizations, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and a broad array of human service organizations.
Fans are encouraged to attend to watch our guest grillers cook up your meals on a 2,000-pound, 600-degree grill.
LAKELAND, Fla. - Chuck Helppie is the Ironman of Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camps. While most come to the team's spring training home and live the dream of playing with their heroes for one week, Helppie is a 25-year veteran.
He keeps coming back for more memories, laughs and cutoff throws from outfielders.
More than 4,000 lovers of the Olde English D have attended the camps since the first one in 1984. Seven have been to 20 camps, but only Helppie has celebrated a silver anniversary.
The financial services company president from Pinckney is the Cal Ripken Jr. of baseball wannabes. It's getting harder to snag grounders in the hole and take an extra base, but the camaraderie gets better and better.
Associated PressChuck Helppie of Pinckney is celebrating his 25th year of Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camp.
"The hook for me is the guys," said Helppie, who recently turned 57. "I keep coming back here for a week every winter to play ball with my buddies, to put on the uniform and swap stories.
"It's like a baseball frat party with some of my best friends in life. It's bonding, baseball and a chance to get out of Michigan in the winter."
He said 50 of his fellow campers have become friends he stays in touch with, and he has come to know many of those Tigers who won it all in 1968, when he was attending Ypsilanti High, as well as the 1984 Tigers who took the World Series.
But nothing tops that sunny day at Joker Marchant Stadium in 1987, long before he sported a neatly trimmed white beard and when he still had some giddy-up in his tank.
"The real Tiger team was short one guy," Helppie said. "Al Kaline came up to me and said, 'Helppie, go out and play center field for us in the fourth inning.'"
That coming from his lifelong hero ... even priceless seems too trivial a descriptor.
"Al Kaline is next to me in right field and I look the other way and Willie Horton is in left," Helppie recalled. "It's just like you dream."I was so unbelievably excited. That's the root of your fantasy right there. Marchant Stadium had 5,000 fans in it. My only fear was to not muff anything. I got a couple easy flies and caught up to a liner Jim Price hit that just took off. I did just fine."
Helppie wears No. 24 for Mickey Stanley because Kaline's No. 6 is retired, and for part of one game got to play the part of Stanley in the outfield.
Helppie, president of Echelon Wealth Management in Ann Arbor, had an arm injury and never got past junior varsity baseball in high school. But he shells out $2,000 to $3,000 every year and gets to play the game he loves with guys he cherishes and major leaguers who call him by name.
Norm Kubitskey, Glenn Smith, John Adams and Tim Allard keep coming back most years with him. The four suburban Detroit campers and Helppie pull on the genuine home and road Tigers uniforms and caps along with Dick Tracewski, Mickey Lolich, Jon Warden, Horton and Price.
Five of the 1968 Tigers from that first camp attended this latest camp, which is more populated by 1984 Tigers Doug Bair, Juan Berenguer, Tom Brookens, Barbaro Garbey, John Grubb, Guillermo Hernandez, Larry Herndon, Dan Petry and Bill Scherrer. Sprinkled in from other Tigers teams are Rick Leach and Mike Heath.
Heath chuckles at a pitcher struggling to throw strikes and uses a line aimed at Nuke LaLoosh in the movie "Bull Durham," "Breathe through your eyelids, kid!"
Everybody laughs, and the tendonitis and bad knees don't seem so bad for the moment.
"Go right after him!" Helppie shouts to his pitcher before getting into the fielding crouch and glancing at the batter. "C'mon, Gus, hit it to me, buddy."
The only year he missed was 1985, and Jerry Kruso of Southgate is the only camper with more appearances (27). But nobody has been here more years. Kruso passed him by going to two camps a year once they began doubling up.
Helppie played every position in one game in 2002, but usually plays first or third base, sometimes second.
They sing "Happy Birthday" to Helppie here each year, and his wife of 37 years, Vali, a Pinckney Community High School language arts teacher, told him it's OK for him to be alone on that day.
She understands, noting he isn't as cranky when he returns. He came home this year with a Detroit Tigers leather jacket with his name and 25-year achievement embroidered on it.
Helppie has played with the two Detroit World Series championship teams of his lifetime and will team with Todd Jones and perhaps Kenny Rogers and Sean Casey next January when 2006 World Series members are integrated into the fantasy camps.
"I hope to play with more of the '06 players," Helppie said. "I've been here from age 32 to 57. And if I stay healthy, I hope to be here when I'm in my 70s and 80s."
He taps his bat on the ground and smiles.
Who knew that the fountain of youth was right here in Polk County?
The Detroit News is seeking the top high school seniors in the state.
The newspaper is teaming up with CATCH, former Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson's charity for children, to honor the selected students this spring as a part of the 24th annual Detroit News Outstanding High School Graduate program.
Scholarships are expected to be awarded.
"The Detroit News is honored to recognize the best and brightest Michigan high school seniors," said Editor and Publisher Jonathan Wolman. "The rigorous criteria for being named an outstanding graduate assure that this group of students will be among their generation's leaders and highest achievers."
Teachers and school officials can nominate qualifying students by getting an application from http://detnews.com/schools/catch.
Applications must be submitted by March 13. Schools are limited to submitting 11 entries and one student per category.
The criteria for the honors were developed with academic specialists at the Michigan Department of Education. Judges will weigh grades, test scores, honors and community involvement.
But the most important criteria will be students' demonstrated ability in the award categories: athletics, health, journalism, language arts, performing arts, mathematics, science, visual arts, and vocational-technical and world studies. There is also the "against all odds" category, which spotlights students who have overcome challenges and adversity.
Honorees have included blind students as well as a student who overcame substance abuse problems and struggled with cancer.
The top two students in each category will be profiled in The News this spring and honored at an awards dinner. Four students in each category will be selected as runners-up and have their names published in The News. All nominees are expected to receive certificates.
"It's an honor to be recognized nationally as an outstanding place for nurses to work," says Val Gokenbach, R.N., vice president and chief nursing officer at Beaumont, Royal Oak.
In early 2008, Nursing Professionals sent a survey to 25,000 randomly selected hospital nurses throughout the country measuring their job satisfaction. Questions focused on the following topics: training and development; family-friendly employer; equality and diversity; and flexible working arrangements.
"Greater awareness of the crucial role of nurses and the expanded opportunities they have today in patient care, research and training will be very helpful in encouraging more people to enter this profession, " says Donna Anderson, a senior vice president of marketing with
Nursing Professionals magazine serves as a tool for hospitals, the military and corporations to recruit nurse graduates.
Beaumont Hospitals employs 6,544 nurses, nursing assistants and nurse technicians. The three-hospital system is consistently recognized as having the best nurses by the National Research Corporation and as among the most preferred places to work.
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Metro Detroit home sales continued in positive territory for January.
Home sales rose 25.7% last month to 4,301 from 3,421 in January 2008 for Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties and parts of St. Clair County, according to Realcomp, a multiple listing service in Farmington Hills.
Realcomp figures come from sales that closed in January as reported by its Realtor members.Karen S. Kage, CEO of Realcomp, said she was heartened that the inventory of homes on the market dropped by 21% compared to 2008. The number of homes on the market in January fell 21% to 53,815 from 68,174 in January '08.
Brown, who had worked in housing for 25 years, launched his own real estate business in 2003, and started to buy up midsize apartment buildings in Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb. He was reading a lot about marketing and social media, and one day in 2005 he announced plans to open a company page on MySpace.
Problems, he noticed, turned into discussions—and opportunities to improve things. "The more I saw this," he says, "the more I became a believer."
Brown now tries all kinds of things. Some of them work. He enticed six residents of his apartments to keep up a blog. It's not about the apartments, but instead about the life, food, and culture around Royal Oak. It's a lively blog, and he says that some of its cultural aura has rubbed off on his apartment brand.
Solo Apartment Hunting
One benefit of social media is that Brown can understand the problems his tenants (and potential tenants) face—and what drives them crazy. Case in point: For people juggling jobs and family, "looking for an apartment is a pain in the neck," Brown says. The last thing they want is to stand outside an apartment unit and make an appointment to see it later. So Brown fixed up a cell-phone service powered by text messages. When apartment hunters want to see a unit, they text a number. The floor plan of the unit pops up on their phone. And if they want to look around, they get the lockbox code on their phone. Perhaps the best part? They can do it alone. "A lot of times the salesperson just gets in the way," he says.
A few of his social media experiments have flopped. He wanted photos of the apartments with people in them. So he asked residents to take pictures of themselves and upload them to Flickr, Yahoo's (YHOO) popular photo site. The results, he says, were bad. "You never know how things are going to work out." So just before Christmas he tweaked it. On Twitter and Facebook, he offered residents a rent discount if they agreed to pose in Urbane units. By New Year's he had a dozen models ready to pose for a professional photographer. The bonus: Some of them started posting their promotional photos on social networks and e-mailing them to friends.
Despite his energetic outreach, Brown doesn't subscribe to all the traditional lines about customer management. "I don't think the customer's always right," he says. "But most of them are reasonable, so you can come to some kind of compromise."
There's Jon Glaser, a son of Southfield, whose new live-action Adult Swim show "Delocated" debuts Thursday.
Glaser is an alumnus of the University of Michigan, NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central.
Never one to be overlooked, Detroit native Roz Ryan is the voice of Bubbie the whale on "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack."
If Ryan's name sounds familiar, you are either a Broadway fan who saw her in a number of musicals, including "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Dreamgirls," or you watched the 1980s sitcom "Amen" on NBC. Ryan played Amelia, one half of the meddlesome-but-loving Hetebrink sister duo.
Read on to learn more about Ryan and Glaser before the big day.
The part of Bubbie was written for a man originally. But that all changed when one of the producers of "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" heard Roz Ryan audition.
"Something about my voice made him feel all warm and fuzzy," says Ryan, 57, with a giggle. During a recent phone interview, Ryan peppers the conversation with terms of endearment such as "baby," making the interaction feel like a chat with an aunt instead of a one-on-one to promote her show. That's the Detroit in her. Her friendly nature makes her seem like family to a lot of people.
Ryan is doing the interview from Denver on her way to Bangkok. It is there that she'll be co-starring in the traveling production of "Chicago" for two weeks.
"They work with me," says the Mackenzie High School grad of her producers. "I'm in the studio doing voice work for Bubbie for a few hours when I'm in L.A. and then I go and do some work and come back and work in the studio again."
The actress, born Rosalyn Bowen, is best known for the five seasons she played Amelia on NBC's funny church sitcom "Amen." She got her start locally singing in nightclubs such as Watts Mozambique at the tender age of 16. It was a 13-year singing career that eventually led to Broadway.
Detroit radio legend Jay Butler remembers Ryan in those days. The two are still friends, and when Ryan visits family in Detroit about fours times a year, they often hang out.
"Roz is so very talented," says Butler, who can now be heard hosting "Jay's Place," a blues show that broadcasts on WDET-FM (101.9) on Saturday nights. Butler is also the host of "FaithTalk Afternoons" on the Christian station WLQV-AM (1500).
"I wish more people could hear her sing," Butler says. "She has such a wonderful voice, but she's found something special in acting, and now she's doing more of that. If she could get an album deal, it would be over. People would want her to sing everything."
As for Ryan's humble beginnings in Detroit, Butler couldn't be more proud.
"Back in the day, she did a lot of singing with rock bands," Butler says. "Now look at her. That's talent."
Ryan continues to make her mark. In addition to the voice work she does for "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack," she'll be appearing in two films, including the Ricky Gervais comedy "Invention of Lying," which is due in theaters later this year.
"Ricky is a hoot. I can't say enough about him," says Ryan of Gervais, who wrote and directed the flick.
But for now, Ryan, a mother and grandmother, is all about Bubbie, the maternal whale who raises a little boy named Flapjack.
"I love doing voice work," she says. "The freedom it gives me is wonderful, and I have two granddaughters, 8 and 5, two mini-mes, who love the show. Who can resist that?"
Not so coincidentally, the live-action comedy follows a guy named Jon, who after testifying against the Russian Mafia, is relocated by the government along with his wife and child. Instead of enjoying life in anonymity, Jon decides to subject his family to a reality show in which they live in a posh New York loft and hide their identities with ski masks.
"I've been thinking about this character for a long time," says the Southfield-Lathrup High School alumnus in a phone chat from New York last week. He and his wife and kids all live in the Big Apple.
"I did a similar character on 'Conan,' except that guy was an impersonator who was in the witness protection program, and no matter who he impersonated, they all sounded digitally disguised."
Glaser, whose parents and siblings still live in Metro Detroit, has an equally funny explanation about sharing the name Jon with his character.
"It's an homage to Tony Danza, who often plays characters named Tony," Glaser, 40, half-jokingly says. "I wanted this character to be a total jerk, so I did everything I could to make him that way.
"Like for me, it's too late to go back to Jonathan even though I want to, because people would think I'm a jerk. But this guy, he would go back to being called Jonathan in a heartbeat."
Families move to Grosse Pointe for many reasons and sometimes they move from one Pointe to another, as the Williams family did recently. They moved from the Park to the Farms so Liam, 12, could walk to St. Paul Catholic School.
"Mortgage money was difficult to come by for awhile," she said. "Government regulations went from being too lax to being too strict. But those regulations have become far more sensible, making more money available. And right now the rates are historically low."
It seems when one Detroit coffee shop closes, another opens.
The exodus of three Starbucks stores from downtown Detroit last fall has not left caffeine fiends yawning for long. Newly opened independent and franchise operations are empowering Detroiters with more choices than ever before and helping stimulate the local economy.
"Things are moving in the right direction," said Olga Savic Stella, vice president of business development for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a private nonprofit that helps create new investment and job opportunities in the city.
Biggby Coffee in Midtown and the independently owned Mercury Coffee Bar in Corktown are also new additions to the scene.
The new shops are a "positive sign" that entrepreneurs are heeding Detroiters' "pent up demand for retail and restaurants," Stella said, noting that coffee shops brighten any community as places to congregate and share ideas.
By staying open later and on weekends, many of the shops are showing that the city has a viable market beyond the office crowd, Stella said. Greater Detroit, which includes downtown, Midtown, Corktown, the riverfront and Eastern Market, has more than 86,000 residents, according to a recent DEGC report.
But it's doubtful that coffee shops alone can revitalize downtown Detroit, said Robin Boyle, a Wayne State University professor of urban planning.
"The notion that a coffee shop can be a catalyst for economic development is far-fetched," Boyle said.
Nonetheless, for downtowners who loathe lines or live more than a short walk from their favorite fix, more coffee is on the way.
Jose Cayo, co-owner of a Biggby Coffee set to open at the Studio One Apartments complex on Woodward in Midtown on Tuesday, leased the space a year ago.
Cayo hired 25 Wayne State students and said that the university community is excited about a new coffeehouse and the store's free Wi-Fi.
Challenges: space, money
The main challenges franchises and independent shops face in choosing where to locate are finding the right space and amassing enough start-up capital, Stella said. Once open, it's important to establish an optimal schedule and offer products appropriate to the market, she said.
Despite the onslaught of new options, differentiation will keep Detroit's shops from putting each other out of business, said Walter Bender, co-owner of the Tim Hortons store that opened in December in Starbucks' former Millender Center space.
Apparently Bill Mechanic doesn’t mind putting a bit of himself in the movies he produces.
Just check out “Coraline,” the inventive animated 3-D film the Detroit native and Michigan State grad produced that debuted theaters on Friday.
Based on a book by British writer Neil Gaiman, “Coraline” was destined for some Americanization.
So suddenly the lead character, a little girl who has just moved to Oregon, was from Pontiac. And her favorite place in the whole world was the Detroit Zoo. And her father was wearing a college sweatshirt with the word Michigan on it.
I am glad to see something with the word Detroit, and the Detroit Zoo being used in good light!
For Showtimes, Click Here
I've been meaning to post this for the last couple of weeks, but just could never find the right time. But with things currently quiet in on the baseball front (and I imagine they will be until pitchers and catchers report next week), here's my chance.
The Detroit Tigers held their annual Winter Caravan across the state two weeks ago, leading up to TigerFest at Comerica Park. One of their stops was at the University of Michigan's Mott Children's Hospital, a place that not only holds a special meaning for one of their players, Brandon Inge, but happens to employ my mother as a nurse.
Word gets around the hospital that some Tigers are there to meet with the kids, so my mother goes down to check things out before her shift ends. (Knowing that her son spends way too much time on his Tigers blog, I'm sure she also wanted to throw some names at me later on.) As she approaches the clerk's desk, she notices a small crowd gathered around.
"What's going on?" she asked.
"One of the Tigers is over there," her co-worker said. "I'm not sure which one."
My mother waits until the people scatter away, then goes over to say hello. "He was shorter than I expected," she told me later. (Mom thinks all professional athletes are supposed to be the size of Wilt Chamberlain.) "Kind of small for a baseball player. Is he any good?"
The baseball player notices my mother staring, smiles and says hello. "You play for the Tigers?" she asks. He nods, still smiling. According to her, this is what she said next:
"My son is a huge fan of the Tigers! He's a grown man, but he loves you guys. He watches you every night and cheers you on. Talks about you all the time! Oh, could you sign something for him? He'd be so happy! Let me find something for you to sign..."
My mother then reaches into her pocket and pulls out an index card. The player smiles, asks to whom he should make it out, and signs the card. The two of them exchange thanks and carry on with their respective days.
"He was very nice," Mom said. "Very humble, too. He seemed kind of shy. Who's number 15? Is he the one who donated all the money?"
One of the questions that came to mind, of course, was, "Ma, you couldn't have mentioned the blog? Maybe say your son would've loved to do an interview?" But I didn't want to seem ungrateful, and I wasn't. Besides, that wasn't really the time or place for such a thing. And what Mom did was pretty cool.
Here's the card my mother handed to me a few hours later:
So does this mean Brandon Inge is my Tiger this year?