| Matt Hampel

Help us build a picture of philanthropy in Detroit

Update: we’re live at – but we still need your help.

Help us build the Detroit Grants and Loans Database — a picture of philanthropy in Detroit. We’re keeping track of grants and loans given to organizations in the city of Detroit, focusing on non-profits and civic projects that receive money from foundations, and need your help to get to the next level.

Donate now

There’s a lot of talk about the reach and impact of nonprofits and foundations in Detroit. We find ourselves curious about how much money comes into the city and how it is used. We see many amazing non-profit organizations doing great work and want to show how they put resources to good use.

For all of the good work that organizations are doing in Detroit, much of it happens sight unseen. It’s difficult for nonprofits, residents, and scholars to see the bigger picture of the funding system they inhabit. Some funders do a great job of listing their grants online, but many don’t. Some non-profit organizations post annual reports online, but the digital divide can make this task difficult and expensive.

We’ve built a spreadsheet that lists close to 300 grants made in Detroit in the last year or so. It’s been a valuable resource, but it’s time to take the next step.

This summer, we’d like to expand this data and make it easy for everyone to access. As technologists in Detroit, we will build an awesome website to showcase grants and funders. But to get a comprehensive dataset, we need someone dedicated to getting the information. That’s why we’re sponsoring an internship this summer.

We need to raise $2,500: a respectful internship stipend is $1,500 a month, and we’d like to bring someone on board for 3 months. $2,000 of that $4,500 total has already been pledged. If you’re interested in getting a better understanding of the nonprofit and grant landscape in Detroit, please donate today — or email us for more details:

Donate now

Textures of Detroit

Textures of Detroit

Textures of Miami

Textures of Miami

Eighty Grocery Stores Mapped on DetroitWiki

Thanks to a KML file from Alex B. Hill, I’ve been able to import the names and locations of more than 80 Detroit grocery stores to DetroitWiki. These are full grocery stores inside the city limits — not just corner stores.

However, the information on these stores still is pretty thin. You can help: check out the map, visit a grocery store, and then edit the page to add photos and your impression. Editing is easy — there’s a big “Edit” button on every page, and you don’t even need to create an account to make a change. 

Grants and Loans to Detroit Organizations →

This spreadsheet lists close to $90 million in grants and loans to Detroit-area organizations. The grantees are primarily nonprofits, but the totals also include some development loans. I’ve compiled this list over a couple weeks and invited a editors to join. Please let me know by emailing if you’re interested in contributing or editing the doc. 

Lofty Goals

I realized this evening that there are a fair number of Detroit-focused programs that have optimistic (and in some cases unrealistic) goals:

  • The 15×15 Initiative, a project from the Hudson-Webber foundation (and many others) that aims to bring 15,000 new households to Detroit’s “Greater Downtown” by 2015.
  • The Skillman Foundation’s 10-year, $100M Good Neighborhoods plan hopes to create “good schools and good neighborhoods so that young people can be safe, healthy, educated and prepared for adulthood.”
  • The Thompson Foundation is working to create schools that have both a 90 percent graduation rate and 90 percent of graduates attending college. According to several articles from 2005 (one sample), this goal was supposed to have been met by 2007. Schools that did not meet it were to be closed. I have not yet researched the program outcomes.  
  • The new Educational Achievement Authority run by Roy Roberts aims to have “100 percent college- and career-ready graduates, 100 percent of third graders reading at grade level, [and] as much as 95 percent of resources going directly to the schools.” If I recall correctly, Roberts has claimed similar goals for the Detroit Public Schools, but I don’t have a reference immediately available. 
  • The goal of the HOPE Village Initiative is that ”100 percent of those in the HOPE Village Initiative neighborhood will be educationally well-prepared, economically self-sufficient, and living in a safe and supportive environment by the year 2031.” 

The Dynamics of Crowdfunding: Determinants of Success and Failure (Research Paper about Kickstarter) →

Detroit’s Largest Charities

I wondered this morning what Detroit’s largest nonprofits are. Funding isn’t necessarily an indicator of the impact and reach of an organization, but in the absence of other standard data, it might good starting point for understanding the organizational landscape. 

GuideStar lists 1,141 organizations in Detroit with an annual budget of over $100,000. Of those, most (46%) fell in the $100 - $500k range.

There are some obvious leaders: hospitals, nursing homes, pension funds, universities, and foundations. I’m not including those huge institutions in this list because I’m more interested in local service organizations nonprofits. The list below also leaves out large organizations that do significant work in the city but aren’t headquartered here. That’s a deficiency I’ll address another time. 

I’ve taken a look at the total revenue (field 12) on the most current Form 990 available for the largest organizations. When I say that an organization had “a total revenue of ($) in 2010”, I am referring to the IRS form 990 dated 2010. The actual date ranges for filing vary by organization; many have significant overlap with the previous or next year. 

The list:

  1. Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, with total revenues of $88,663,954 in 2010. The bulk of their work centers around operating homes for the elderly and disabled across the state. Much of their revenue comes from resident fees. They operate in several other sectors, including refugee services, which qualified them for this list. 
  2. Gleaners Community Food Bank of Michigan, the food bank with locations around Southeast Michigan, had total revenues of $66,270,358 in 2010, including the value of donated food.
  3. United Way for Southeastern Michigan, with total revenues of $64,486,113 in 2010. 
  4. The Michigan Basic Property Insurance Association, an organization that provides basic property insurance at a standard rate regardless of the property location, had  total revenues of $39,253,084 in 2010. Michigan Basic operates a statewide insurance pool. I’ll try to give a thorough explanation after I understand their work better.
  5. Wolverine Human Services, which supports adolescents facing serious life programs, had annual revenues of $35,555,916 in 2009. That’s down about 13% ($-5,496,346) from 2008, a change that merits more investigation. 
  6. The YMCA of Metro Detroit, which focuses on healthy living and community development, had $32,614,042 in total revenues in 2010. 
  7. Focus: HOPE (“FOCUS HOPE” on their 990), had a 2009 revenue of $28,008,770 (or  total 2011 revenues of $36,253,000, as listed by their Annual Report). There probably is an interesting story in that significant increase.
  8. The Detroit Area Agency on Aging, which operates Meals on Wheels and operates or supports many other local programs, had revenues of $20,734,292 in 2010. 
  9. Neighborhood Service Organization, with revenues of $24,307,088 in 2010, provides supportive housing, addiction treatment, youth and elderly services, among many general social service programs.
  10. Black Family Development, Inc. supports youth and family development. Their 2010 revenues were $22,167,562.

Several other large organizations were close in the rankings:

  • Detroit Symphony Hall
  • World Medical Relief, Inc.
  • New Urban Learning
  • Legal Aid and Defender Association Inc. 

Some things I’ve worked on


The DetroitWiki Project is a volunteer-driven effort to collect information about Detroit that anybody can freely edit. This is a place to make a page for something that wouldn’t otherwise be online. We’re creating pages about historical places, current topics, meeting plans, biographies, and more.

The Journal of City Council for Detroit, 2000-2009

I collected PDF copies of the City of Detroit’s Journal of City Council for the years 2000-2009. These searchable PDFs contain the records of agenda items discussed and all votes taken by the council in that time period. Each is about 3,000 to 3,500 pages. Previously, these files were only available for inspection and duplication in paper format from the City Clerk. I am working to digest the files into a more usable format, but the original files are available for download here:

Public Access TV (PEG Stations)

In 2008, I wrote a report on Ann Arbor’s Community Television Network (PDF). I think the conclusions are still generally applicable to most PEG (public, educational, government) stations.