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  CONTACT: Terry Gallagher
PHONE: (313) 593-5518
DATE: Nov. 14, 2002

$400,000 federal grant to UM-Dearborn will support community outreach programs in southwest Detroit

DEARBORN---The University of Michigan-Dearborn has received a three-year federal grant of $399,814 to support a Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC) in southwest Detroit.

Paul Wong, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and professor of sociology at UM-Dearborn, will serve as executive director of the project, which is funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The center will work on community issues including environmental concerns, safety and security, educational enrichment, diversity and fairness issues, and access to technology.

UM-Dearborn faculty members who will be working on projects at the center include Barry Bogin, professor of behavioral sciences; Kent Murray, associate professor of natural sciences; Emily Spinelli, professor of humanities; and Diane Archer, lecturer in behavioral sciences. Archer also will serve as the project evaluator.

Profs. Larry Gant and Lorraine Gutierrez from the U-M School of Social Work on the Ann Arbor campus and Kevin West from Madonna University also will be involved in the project. Gutierrez will serve as co-director.

The target neighborhoods for the center are the Springwells Village area (bounded by Woodmere, Dix, Waterman, and Fort streets) as well as the community bounded by Waterman, Toledo, Clark, and Fisher streets in southwest Detroit. The center will be located at Trinity-St. Mark's United Church of Christ, 9315 W. Fort St. in Detroit.

"The Community Outreach Partnership Center will provide opportunities for UM-Dearborn, U-M Ann Arbor, Madonna University, and organizations in southwest Detroit to work together on a number of projects that are vital to the community," Wong said. "In meetings and consultations with partner organizations in the Springwells Village Collaborative and the Alliance to Revitalize the Community around Harms Elementary School (ARCH), five areas of need have been identified."

Among other plans, the center will conduct environmental studies in the area and develop recommendations for remediation activities, in addition to workshops, enrichment programs, and clean-up activities.

"To improve the sense of safety and security in the neighborhoods, workshops on community organizing, the formation of block watch groups, and conflict resolution will be offered," Wong said. Educational enhancement activities will include college mentoring for middle school students, and exploring possibilities for vocational training.

"The center also will increase the accessibility to the Internet in the community through computer classes at various sites, along with asset mapping and development of a community database," Wong said.

"Although the last area of need identified in the community, concerning inclusiveness and fairness, may affect any member of the community, it is a particular need in the Latino community, which includes some who do not speak English and some who may be undocumented residents," according to Wong. "We will conduct citizen education workshops, assist with naturalization, provide translators in a variety of locations, and conduct workshops concerning rights and responsibilities of tenants and property owners."

Community organizations that will be involved in the program include Bridging Communities; All Saints Neighborhood Center; LASED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development); Springwells Community Housing and Development; Communities in Schools (Harms Elementary); Southwest Subzone Community Policing; Global Village Literacy Mission; Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision; and Trinity-St. Mark's United Church of Christ.

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