WSU receives $1.3M grant for new initiative

 The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded a $1.3 million grant to Wayne State University to launch the Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL), a groundbreaking new initiative through which nonprofit organizations working in the areas of racial equity, health care, education, food security, safety and housing will address issues of structural racism in Detroit. Housed within the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law, the new initiative will be led by the center’s director, Peter Hammer. The project will begin in the summer of 2014 and is funded for three years.

“There is great need for a resource of this nature in our city,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “The Keith Center is committed to promoting equality and justice. Local nonprofit organizations can be key drivers in the discussion and mitigation of civil rights challenges, and we are fortunate to have found an ally in this project with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.”

Sixty nonprofit leaders will participate in DEAL. Participants will learn how to build capacity for their organizations to work in racial equity workshops led by national subject matter experts. Through trainings and discussions, they will identify long-standing structural racism and create action plans to promote change. DEAL participants will create policy recommendations and improve awareness about racial equity issues in the community.

“We believe that DEAL will add a new structure to support and align community ideas to help Detroit better address issues of structural racism and healing,” said Sharnita C. Johnson of the Kellogg Foundation.

The Keith Center was founded in 2011 to celebrate and perpetuate the work of the Honorable Damon J. Keith, who has long championed the cause of civil rights. The center aims to promote civil rights educational opportunities and provide resources for research and community outreach related to modern challenges of racial justice.

“We are ready to create change-oriented projects that impact our community and our city, and we hope to inspire progress throughout the country as well,” said Jocelyn Benson, dean of Wayne State University Law School. “The Keith Center is thrilled to have the opportunity to begin this work and continue the rich legacy of Judge Keith.”