EVO Detroit

EVO DETROIT, D2N’s new initiative in Detroit, stands for Empowerment, Vestment, and Ownership. It also stands for “Evolution Detroit. This initiative embraces lessons learned from D2N’s work in Nepal. EVO DETROIT recognizes the challenges to communities in Nepal mirror the challenges that face under-served communities in Detroit. Success in our Nepalese projects has been directly attributed to our ability to form trusting and respectful relationships with the local communities, and the fact that D2N does not impose our views or values on them.

EVO Detroit’s goal is to establish working relationships with Detroit neighborhoods by allowing them to identify their priorities and advocate for themselves. This process of empowerment encourages vestment and gives ownership of the project to the community. Consideration is given to those projects which benefit the community as a whole, with the goal of making the neighborhood more desirable for locals to continue to live there.

In an effort to strengthen our current community-based programs - Avalon Village, Building Better Men, Buckets of Rain, S.A.Y. Detroit Family Clinic and WNUC- we are facilitating the sharing of ideas and resources between them.

Project No Stand Zone - Cody Rouge Youth Council Members with two completed benches

Avalon Village

Avalon Village is a self-sustaining eco village in Highland Park. This unique community-building project is restoring hope, inspiration, and much-needed city services to a forgotten, underserved neighborhood.

The village encompasses an entire city block between Woodward Avenue and Second Street and currently owns 29 plots of land and five houses, including the Homework House, with plans to acquire and revitalize additional properties and structures.

The Homework House is an afterschool program for neighborhood children that will provide tutoring and academic programs, healthy meals, and recreational activities. EVO Detroit has provided funds to finish the roof, install drywall and insulation and buy general building materials. Homework House will open in fall 2018.

Summer brings camps to Avalon village. EVO Detroit is providing support for both Music and Hood Camps. Music is a discipline that has been removed from public schools. Music Camp offers hand-on learning instruction in Music Theory and Composition, Instrumentation, Music History and DJing 101 and ends with a community recital to showcase newly-acquired skills. See Music Camp flyer.

During Hood Camp Avalon Village is transformed into a camp ground where the children of the neighborhood interact with nature. Upon completion of Hood Camp participants are able to identify edible and medicinal herbs in their yards and communities; grow their own food; display conflict management skills; know what to do in case of emergencies; recycle and save and purify water.

Music Camp next to the Homework House
Fire safety at Hood Camp

Music Camp

Hood Camp

Buckets of Rain

Buckets of Rain is a nonprofit that assists communities where access to fresh food is limited. Their main goal is provide fresh food, but they also reduce urban blight through their gardens. During the summer of 2018 Buckets of Rain distributed 90,200 free servings of vegetables grown at their Detroit urban farms to homeless shelters, neighbors and their ‘Clinic to Farm to Table’ participants.

The Clinic to Farm to Table program at the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic enables doctors to write “prescriptions” for patients with diet-related health issues such as diabetes, obesity or hypertension. These patients can then visit Bucket of Rain’s one-acre urban garden (rows of raised beds sitting upon pavement) across from the clinic for a week’s worth of the recommended vegetables at no cost.

When the fresh food prescription is out of refills, the woman can return to the clinic for a visit and receive additional refills of the prescription for her vegetables. The doctors can then monitor the participants and look for positive changes in their health based on an improved diet.

Click here for a short news story on the program.

Raised beds at Bucket of Rain's garden across from the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Clinic

Building Better Men

The Building Better Men Program was started in 1991 by Odis Bellinger and founded on the principle that young men can be successful despite challenges associated with absent fathers. Their goal is to enable young men to become productive members of society.

This goal is accomplished with small reading groups, interactive group workshops, individual counseling, relevant participant role-play, male encouragement conferences, educational collegiate tours, and recreational field trips. These components of the program teach social and personal responsibility, decision-making, leadership skills, critical thinking and literacy skills. EVO Detroit has provided support for field trips, food and fun.

In June 2018 Odis moved his base of operations to the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center. EVO Detroit is sponsoring the six-month transition to the new home as well as the development of a sustainable business model for the program.

They are #1!

WNUC 96.7 FM

D2N helped complete Detroit’s only community radio station, WNUC 96.7 FM. Initiated by North End Woodward Community Coalition, NEWCC, the station has a reach of 5-7mile radius with a potential audience, once established, of 300,000. The station reaches a diversity of communities including: Highland Park, Hamtramck, a section of Southwest Detroit, North End, Midtown and downtown Detroit.

The station benefits the community by providing free access to an independent media voice and, in an area with relatively low access to the internet, a vital source of information. It will also:

  • provide training and developmental resources for youth and older individuals that will strengthen broadcast journalism skills.
  • be a central location for imparting information relevant to the community in their own voice. this includes being a source of emergency readiness.
  • be an organizing tool for partnering with other communities around the city.

NEWCC has operated within the community for the past 10 years. WNUC went on the air in May 2017. An article in The Progressive, Birth of a Station: Low Power Radio Brings Real Power to Detroit Neighborhood, detailed the journey to WNUC going live.

With the goal of health education, WNUC is broadcasting a biweekly (every other Monday at 6 pm) health segment: Drs Making a House Call. Sponsored by EVO Detroit, Dr. Debbie Charfoos interviews a guest physician to address a pertinent health issue such as nutrition, exercise, diabetes and hypertension. Not only does the show educate, but also brings awareness that the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic, a free medical clinic for uninsured women, is down the street from WNUC. Dr. Charfoos also volunteers at the clinic. An interview with Dr. Charfoos on Fox 2 Detroit News describes her efforts at both places.

Reverend Joan C. Ross, host of 'My Block, My Hood, My City'

S.A.Y Detroit Family Health Clinic/S.A.Y. Detroit Play

S.A.Y. Detroit Charities was founded by Mitch Albom and is aimed at improving the lives of the neediest citizens, through shelter, food, medical care, volunteer efforts and education. It serves as the umbrella for ongoing major projects including S.A.Y Detroit Family Health Clinic and S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center. Operated in partnership with Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, the clinic primarily serves homeless and/or uninsured women and to a lesser extent, uninsured children.

D2N has created specialty clinics including cardiology, pulmonary, dermatology, ear nose and throat, naturopathic medicine, podiatry, and gynecology. Clinics in ophthalmology and acupuncture are in the planning stages. Reliable pathways for women to be able to enter the hospital system for procedures and surgery have also been developed. An interview with Dr. Charfoos, the physician who staffs the gynecology clinic, on Fox 2 Detroit News, describes her work.

S.A.Y Clinic and Buckets of Rain, across from the clinic, have a unique partnership in their "Prescription for Vegetables" program. The program provides free vegetables for clinic patients.

S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center is a training center for young people to improve their community, starting with themselves. Their mission is to develop great readers and great people. Building Better Men is currently housed at S.A.Y. Detroit Play.

Dr. Debbie Charfoos (pictured in the middle) volunteers at the clinic and promotes the clinic during her WNUC healthcare-focused radio show.
Odis Bellinger at Building Better Men Open House at S.A.Y. Play

Piety Hill Pocket Parks

In 2016 62 neighbors attending the Piety Hill neighborhood quarterly meeting requested a grant to repair and restore two pocket parks, located at 740 Hazelwood and 801 West Philadelphia, so they could be used safely and to their full potential by the community. The grant funded new fencing and new signs at both parks. Additionally, grass seeding and improved horse shoe pit backboards were istalled at the Philadelphia park.

In addition to the new fencing and sign at the park on Hazelwood, flowers were planted in the butterfly garden section and child-safe wood chips were spread in the play area. The park was named in memory of a young girl, Malena Marks, from the neighborhood who was killed in a car accident. Her family attended the dedication of the park.

The community took ownership of the project and supplied all the necessary labor. The Central Detroit Christian Organization (a longstanding nonprofit located in the neighborhood, staffed by the neighbors) provided a project manager at no cost.

Malena Mark's siblings at the dedication of the park on Hazelwood.

Project No Stand Zone

The Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance Youth Council is composed of high school-aged students who either live, attend school, work or worship in the Cody Rouge neighborhood. In addition to contributing youth voice to community improvement initiatives and participating in leadership training, the Youth Council is actively involved in planning and implementing projects and events that benefit all residents of Cody Rouge. The 2016 Cody Rouge Project Resident Survey indicated that 91% percent of Cody Rouge residents who use the bus system reported that they do not feel there are enough shelters or places to sit at community bus stops. To address the lack of bus seating in the Cody Rouge community, the Youth Council proposed building benches for seven neighborhood bus stops.

Project No Stand Zone is a partnership among the Cody Rouge Youth Council, the six high schools located in Cody Rouge and the “Sit on it Detroit” organization. “Sit on it Detroit” utilizes reclaimed wood from deconstructed houses to build bus stop benches. These benches are unique because they beautify the landscape using recycled materials, and also feature a small library in the bottom half of the bench. “Sit on it Detroit” provided prepped wooden benches to be finished and creatively decorated. The completed benches were placed at six local bus stops along West Chicago and Evergreen in the Cody Rouge neighborhood during a community event held in May 2017. Garbage cans will be added to the bus stops.

The Cody Rouge Youth Council was recently honored with a 2017 Governor's Service Award as Education Service Leaders. Project No Stand Zone was highlighted as one of their most notable initiatives, and continues to draw attention to their work and the investments our young people are making in their community.

Celebrating the benches at the Halloween Party
Bus stop

How To Apply For A Grant

  1. Clearly describe the project proposed. Please explain how it will be accomplished in detail and how it would benefit your community.
  2. Explain how this project was identified by your local community and why/how it was prioritized.
  3. Show how your local community will be vested in this process. Be specific. We require that all unskilled labor, and as much skilled labor, be provided by your local community. Any materials or equipment accessible to your neighborhood should be provided by you.  D2N will provide funds for materials and equipment as well as any skilled labor which is not available within your community. Our goal is to “fill the gap”.
  4. Provide a DETAILED budget. We will fund projects up to $10,000 which can be completed within six months.
  5. You are encouraged to include narratives of other community-based projects in your neighborhood. Demonstrating past successes that were dependent on significant vestment of the community will help support your grant request.
  6. Any other information you can submit that would strengthen your application is encouraged.

Send your grant request and/or questions to: