Community Connections is a resident-centered grant program working to strengthen civic engagement and grassroots leadership in six Detroit neighborhoods: Brightmoor, Chadsey Condon, Cody Rouge, North End, Osborn, and Southwest. It awards grants of $500 to $5,000 to local projects that mobilize residents’ energies to improve opportunities and conditions for youth. Community Connections was launched by the Skillman Foundation in 2006 as part of the Foundation’s Good Neighborhoods initiative, and is operated by Prevention Network, a statewide organization experienced in running resident-focused small grants programs. Since 2012 it has also received major support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
Rooted in the conviction that local groups and leaders are essential if neighborhoods are to create safe environments where children and youth can grow up successfully, the program is guided by a four-fold impact framework. At its heart is a commitment to expand residents’ civic engagement. Through its project support and related learning opportunities, Community Connections helps strengthen community leadership in these neighborhoods. Projects offer positive youth development opportunities to children and teens in these neighborhoods. And some projects contribute to systems change by connecting with kids in ways that larger institutional systems currently miss, by helping to create alternatives to those established institutional systems, and by engaging in neighborhood planning, policy advocacy and other efforts to reform those systems.