Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Unlocking Citizen Philanthropy in Detroit

Feb. 1, 2012, 11:06 a.m., Posted by Rishi Jaitly

When I first starting falling for Michigan years ago (a courtship that eventually led to starting Michigan Corps in 2010), my affection for this place was always rooted in people.

I had never been somewhere where everyone was so self-aware of place and eager to participate in place. I had to join in and wondered, What if we could use technology - and more - to make it easy for everyone to share in this place’s renaissance and work with one another on consensus change?

Citizen Effect’s launch of Detroit4Detroit last week showcases the best of that aspiration.

That's why Knight Foundation supports the project, which is helping 150 Detroiters partner with local organizations to lead 150 social-change projects across the city. This Free Press article offers a sense for the kind of work Detroiters will be leading across issues like education, health and food security.

What excites me most about Detroit4Detroit isn’t just that this approach advances Knight's local focus, which supports initiatives in which all Detroiters are able to lead and champion the success of the city’s young and creative communities.

It’s that Detroit4Detroit blends today with tomorrow.

While Detroiters connect with their projects on the Internet, Citizen Effect staff also personally coach each “Citizen Philanthropist” on his or her leadership. While partner organizations continue to fundraise and hire for additional initiatives, the network of citizens they’ve partnered with offers a complementary, modern approach to harnessing the natural energy among Detroiters.

I’ve already learned a lot from Detroit4Detroit and I hope you’ll join us all in the journey!

By Rishi Jaitly, Program Director/Detroit at Knight Foundation