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Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium: "Institutionalizing Equity: Radically Restructuring Opportunity in Detroit"

Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium: "Institutionalizing Equity: Radically Restructuring Opportunity in Detroit"

“And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  Planning Meeting for the Poor People’s Conference

Boldly responding to Dr. King’s call for systemic change, a network of public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders in Detroit is seeking to radically restructure pathways to opportunity in the city’s neighborhoods. Through a first-of-its-kind initiative, a collective of the Kresge Foundation, the Detroit Public Schools Community District, and the University of Michigan will establish a “Cradle-to-Career” campus at Marygrove College on Detroit's Northwest Side. The campus will integrate pre-kindergarten through graduate level programs in an effort to establish a pedagogy of rigor, equity, and social justice at the intersection of public education and neighborhood revitalization in Detroit.  

As Detroit’s resurgence pushes beyond the boundaries of greater Downtown, a daunting question remains: what about the schools? In conjunction with concentrated public and private investments in the city’s Fitzgerald neighborhood, the Cradle-to-Career initiative signifies the importance of comprehensive community development that acknowledges the place-based nature of residential segregation and systemic disinvestment. With the Kresge Foundation’s $50 million commitment—the largest investment in any single neighborhood in the nation— this partnership seeks to transform access to upward mobility, emphasizing the importance of beginning with Detroit’s youth in an effort to institutionalize equity from the ground up.

Opening Remarks: Jonathan Massey, Dean of Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Michelle Bolofer, Executive Director at Century Forward
Michelle Bolofer is a native Detroiter and former educator who grew up just north of the city's Fitzgerald neighborhood. She began her career in education, teaching high school on the south side of Chicago and then returning to the Metro Detroit area as a learning specialist and diversity and inclusion advocate. Prior to starting at Century Forward, Michelle worked as a consultant for a financial and business advisory firm. At Century Forward, Michelle is dedicated to working with a wide range of stakeholders to strengthen the existing environmental, economic and social infrastructure in the community. Michelle holds bachelor's degrees in English and Psychology from the University of Michigan and a a master’s degree in mathematics from Wayne State University.

Ja’Net Defell, Lead Developer at IFF
Ms. Defell is Lead Developer for IFF’s Michigan office. Reporting directly to the President of IFF’s Social Impact Accelerator group, Ms. Defell is responsible for managing all major IFF-driven real estate development initiatives in the Michigan market. Prior to her current role, Ms. Defell launched IFF’s real estate services group in Michigan and was a Senior Project Manager in IFF’s Chicago office. As Director of Real Estate Services, she managed a team of real estate professionals providing comprehensive consulting and development services to nonprofits in the Detroit metro area. Ms. Defell also managed several foundation-funded initiatives related to quality early childhood education (ECE) facilities and schools in Detroit. Specifically, Ms. Defell actively engaged in the development of the city-wide ECE initiative Hope Starts Here, a 10-year framework to reshape the ECE landscape in Detroit. Ms. Defell holds a Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Michigan.  She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and LEED Green Associate.

Elizabeth Moje, Dean, George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture, University of Michigan School of Education
Elizabeth Birr Moje is dean, George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture in the School of Education. Moje teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in secondary and adolescent literacy, cultural theory, and research methods and was awarded the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize with colleague, Bob Bain, in 2010. A former high school history and biology teacher, Moje’s research examines young people’s navigations of culture, identity, and literacy learning in and out of school in Detroit, Michigan. Moje has published 5 books and numerous articles, and her research projects have been or are currently funded by the National Institutes of Health/NICHD, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, National Science Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, Spencer Foundation, International Reading Association, and the National Academy of Education. Together with several partners, including the Detroit Public Schools Community District and the Kresge Foundation, Moje just announced the School of Education’s participation in the development of a cradle-to-career education system in the Live6 neighborhood of Detroit, on the Marygrove College campus.

Denise Powell, Assistant Professor, Marygrove College
Dr. Powell is the Assistant Professor of  Early Childhood Education at Marygrove College, and has over 40 years of experience in public education. She has taught several courses, including "Professional Partnerships in Early Childhood Education - Child, Family, School, and Community" and "Designing and Managing Effective Learning Environments" that address the impact of community context on children's early learning and lifetime success. Dr. Powell holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary and Special Education from Michigan State University, a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Marygrove College, and a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from Oakland University. She also holds State of Michigan endorsements in the areas of Learning Disabilities and Early Childhood Special Education. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences.

Moderator: Harley Etienne, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Taubman College and author of Pushing Back the Gates: Neighborhood Perspectives on University-Driven Revitalization in West Philadelphia. 

Sponsored by the U-M Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives