Knight Blog

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

Detroit’s BME Leadership Award Winners address community issues with Michigan governor

May 7, 2012, 8:22 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Shaka Senghor, a BME Leadership Award Winner

Detroit's BME Leadership Award winners met recently with Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder to talk about the most pressing issues facing both the state and the city.

The small, invite-only group discussion, which included the city’s Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis and other business and civic leaders, focused specifically on how to identify and help solve some of residents’, biggest challenges. BME is an effort to recognize, connect and invest in black males from all walks of life who engage others in making communities stronger.

All 10 BME Leadership Award Winners from Detroit were invited. Those able to attend included Emu Michael KumaneMiguel PopeBrook Ellis and Shaka Senghor. Reflecting on the forum, Senghor, who with support from BME will coach young people on how to fully express life stories across media, says he considered it an honor to participate. Senhor also says that he was impressed there was a good mixture of people from diverse backgrounds who participated in the meeting:

“Going in I didn't know what to expect, so I was very open to exchanging ideas about Detroit's future with those who are working hard to make a difference. Mary Kramer did a good job introducing the topic of how to turn Detroit around. [Gov. Snyder] sounded like he is really committed to seeing a better Detroit although we'll have to wait and see if his actions line up with his words...I took an opportunity to engage him in a brief discussion and told him about the work we are doing in the community and he appeared to be impressed by what I shared.  One of the things I pointed out was the importance of resources being allocated in underserved communities outside of Midtown and Downtown. When Gov. Snyder was finished speaking, each table was asked to identify the things they felt were important when it came to moving Detroit forward.”

Akron area YMCA: "a giant, diverse melting pot"

May 4, 2012, 10:20 a.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas



The new University Park YMCA in Akron has exceeded membership expectations by 46 percent.

By the end of February 2012, the $11 million University Park facility, funded in part with a $3 million grant from Knight Foundation, had sold 3,510 memberships, which represents more than 7,000 adults and children. 

The YMCA had anticipated to sell about 2,400 by the end of 2011.  Douglas Kohl, the Akron Area YMCA president and CEO calls the facility "a giant, diverse melting pot," engaging residents of all ages in activities.

The Akron Beacon Journal noted the recent boom in membership in a recent article, highlighting several new programming opportunities including a teen night, swimming instructions for kids and silver sneakers, an exercise and social activities program for seniors. 

Young At Arts Children's Museum gets kids to create, not just observe

May 4, 2012, 9:33 a.m., Posted by Robertson Adams


The Stomp percussion exhibit at the Young at Art Children's Museum.

The ambitious and extraordinary Young At Art Children's Museum is about to be a hot summer ticket for South Florida families with kids. The cavernous and bright building is a riot of bright color and art at every turn, yet clearly organized with space for quiet time too. Art is organized into themed areas for everything from surrealism (René Magritte) to street art (Keith Haring). 

Young At Art will be offering day camps as well as summer camps that include ceramics, painting and other diversions for kids. Based on my own price-shopping of summer camps in the area, their summer camp weekly rate is quite affordable. 

I visited Young At Art with my daughter - who's five, attends kindergarten and has taken some art classes. She was most interested in the Stomp percussion room, the Hokusai wave climbing sculpture, and the Edouard Duval Carrie interactive art exhibit.  Carrie's installation was funded by a 2011 Knight grant and the museum itself was a Knight Arts Challenge first-year winner