UM's Ginsberg Center, Taubman College honored by Southwest Detroit Business Association for AmeriCorps, Urban Planning Service

Staff and faculty of the University of Michigan’s Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning and the Urban and Regional Planning Program in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning received The Clark Street Award for Public Investment from the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA) at their annual Community Investment Breakfast June 17, 2010, in Detroit. The SDBA presented the award to UM for outstanding service and partnership provided by the Ginsberg Center’s Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership program and Taubman College’s Urban and Regional Planning Program.

Dewar, Dueweke, Dean Ponce de Leon, and Urban Planning Chair, Dick Norton, at SDBA Community Investment Breakfast

The relationship between SDBA and the Urban and Regional Planning Program was initiated in 1989 and further solidified as UM placed AmeriCorps members with their organization in Detroit starting in 1995. In the past 15 years, 23 UM AmeriCorps volunteers and scores of students with other sources of internship funding have served Detroit through working with the SDBA. The AmeriCorps relationship has been managed since 2003 under the leadership of Addell Austin Anderson, formerly the director of the Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership at the Ginsberg Center, recently named UM’s Detroit Center director.

Aiding in the placement of students with the SDBA is Taubman College community partnerships manager, Eric Dueweke. Dueweke works on behalf of Taubman College to create partnerships with Detroit not-for-profit organizations and faculty and students for the purpose of collaborative projects that will benefit their organizations and educate students. This year, two of the eleven Taubman College urban planning master students serving as Detroit AmeriCorps volunteers were placed with the SDBA.

Taubman College urban planning faculty members, including Margi Dewar, Larissa Larsen, and Eric Dueweke, managed urban planning students’ final planning projects on behalf of the SDBA that have helped Southwest Detroit businesses, not-for-profits and residents create better communities. Most recently, nine urban planning students developed a plan for ways that SDBA and others can assure that residents of Southwest Detroit benefit from the jobs that a new bridge to Canada and the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal will produce.

Immigrants have contributed to the city’s neighborhood revitalization, especially in southwest Detroit. Southwest Detroit has experienced a thriving economy in recent years, as evidenced by new housing, increased business openings and the recently opened Mexicantown International Welcome Center. The entrance to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects the U.S. and Canada, is also located there, making the area an international trucking hub.

“The research by UM’s AmeriCorps volunteers and the urban planning students have helped us realize what is possible in our community,” said SDBA president Kathy Wendler. “With their input, we could explore new options that we may have wondered about, but didn’t have the resources to pursue. They helped us envision what could be, so we can make it happen.”

Research on ways to reduce vehicle pollution through the use of increased vegetation; perspectives on ways to increase benefits from new international crossings over the Detroit River to Canada; and ways to design neighborhoods to increase residents’ satisfaction have been conducted by UM faculty and students on behalf of the SDBA.

“The possibilities to affect change in Detroit are endless,” said Dewar, an urban planning professor and former Ginsberg Center faculty director, who helped maintain the relationship with the SDBA. “There is need and with research, hard work, and partnership, change to reinforce better communities is possible.”

Upon receipt of the award, Anderson agreed. “We should be honoring the SDBA for their leadership in the city. They make the community better.”

For more on some of the reports created by Taubman College urban planning leadership:
Paving the Way: Linking Southwest Detroit to Infrastructure Jobs, January 2010

Breathing Easier in Southwest Detroit: Mitigating Fugitive Dust with Vegetation, April 2008
A Local Response to the Detroit River International Crossing, May 2007

About UM’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan seeks to improve the human condition through thoughtful design and planning for the built environment. Its academic programs prepare graduates for positions of responsibility within a wide spectrum of professions, organizations, and institutions that shape the built environment at scales ranging from local to global. Taubman College conducts innovative design and policy research and serves the community, the state, the nation, and the world through outreach and partnerships.

About UM’s Ginsberg Center
The Ginsberg Center enriches student learning, advances community priorities and inspires a lifelong commitment to citizenship through service, community partnerships and social justice education. The Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership places students, recent graduates and community members in paid service positions with Southeast Michigan community organizations. Learn more at

About the Southwest Detroit Business Association
Established in 1957, the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA) fosters innovation, drive, and commitment. They work with investors, entrepreneurs, customers, and neighbors to capitalize on Southwest Detroit’s competitive advantage. They support the community’s vision for a healthy, vibrant neighborhood. The association is a coalition of businesses and community interests committed to facilitating the continuation and enhancement of a stable, economically healthy Southwest Detroit.