The Detroit Partnership began in 1999 as one large scale day of service through Circle K. The day of service was named DP Day and took place on April 8, 2000. The Detroit Partnership has grown significantly from a simple idea developed in the summer of 1999 to one of the largest organizations on campus, with over 1,500 volunteers participating each year in service projects throughout the year.
The initial idea for The Detroit Partnership is credited to Katie Foley, who was at the time a junior at the University of Michigan and the President of Circle K, an organization on campus dedicated to service, friendship and leadership. From her experiences in Circle K, Katie saw a lack of opportunity for UM students to participate in community service projects with the nearby Detroit community. Along with Sara Rowe, a fellow UM student, Katie brainstormed lists of volunteer opportunities in Detroit. Meetings with numerous Detroit community organizations gave the pair a better sense of the types of projects that would be most beneficial to the community, and to UM students. With the help of other students, Katie and Sara began creating plans for their new idea. Along with logistical details such as a timeline, a budget, and an organizational personnel chart, the group of students worked on publicizing their idea on campus and recruiting interested students to help out.
By mid-December, an almost-complete planning team of forty members was hard at work creating a webpage for the newly christened Detroit Project in addition to recruiting volunteers through mass emails, blitzes and word of mouth. After extensive research and meetings with community organizations and leaders, the group decided to focus their work in the Brightmoor neighborhood in northwest Detroit, an area with a median income of $16,010 and 44% of its residents living below poverty level.
Even a blizzard could not stop the first Detroit Project Day from occurring. Held on April 8, 2000, over 400 UM volunteers worked at 32 different sites in Brightmoor planting trees and grass seed, cleaning parks, and demolishing homes, among other projects. It was apparent that The Detroit Partnership was on its way to creating a strong and meaningful relationship between Detroit and UM students.
Since the initial DP Day, The Detroit Partnership has expanded tremendously to become a year-round service organization. Now working in two communities of Detroit, Brightmoor and Southwest, the opportunities are endless. Members are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of programs Monday-Saturday. The Detroit Partnership has also dedicated itself to the idea of service-learning, incorporating a strong education component to the organization.
Every year The Detroit Partnership continues to expand, and strengthen its programs in order to unite UM students and the City of Detroit through meaningful service learning!