Detroit Regional Chamber Receives $765K Grant to Expand Strategy to Fill Talent Gap From Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation

DETROIT, Oct. 17, 2019 – The Detroit Regional Chamber announced an expanded strategy to help fill the talent pipeline for employers and a grant of $765,000 from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to fund this work for the next 24 months. The Chamber’s effort is targeting the region’s population who have some college experience but haven’t earned a postsecondary degree or credential. The work removes barriers for these individuals to pursue their degree or credential and offers a pathway to a sustainable career.

With a portion of the funding, the Chamber is in the process of hiring two positions – one will focus on program and employers’ partnerships and the other will focus directly on adult college completion efforts.

The expanded strategy will contribute to increasing postsecondary degree attainment in Michigan to 60% by 2030, a goal established by the Chamber in 2016 and was adopted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this year. There are nearly 700,000 people in the Detroit region that qualify as “adult learners” – the population aged 25 years or older with varying levels of prior college experience. In addition to growing the number of qualified workers for employers, the Chamber’s work will also help increase the per capita income for these individuals and contribute to cutting the region’s equity gap in half.

“Over the past year, the Chamber’s strategies to fill the talent gap have gained national attention. The grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation will build upon that work by targeting Detroiters who are unemployed or underemployed and connect them with a pathway to earn a sustainable living wage by aligning their skills with the needs of regional businesses,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber.

The Chamber is now poised to:

  1. Help employers establish an environment to upskill existing employees
  2. Work with regional community colleges to align programs with business needs and become more adult-friendly
  3. Reach adults from the past 15 years who “stopped out” before earning a degree and help them restart their education
  4. Help adult learners navigate their return to education by connecting them with support services to ensure their success

“With this funding, the Chamber seeks to activate employers and supports community colleges to assist adults in obtaining additional postsecondary training and new skills that prepare them for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow in Southeast Michigan.  These goals are closely aligned with the Foundation’s priorities in the Young Adults and Working Families focus area, and we are proud to support the Chamber in leading this collaborative regional effort,” said Lavea Brachman, vice president of programs for Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

The Chamber is targeting adults and engaging businesses in the following counties – Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne. To execute the full strategy, the Chamber estimates this work will require an additional $1.5 million in funding.

The body of work funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is the result of the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees regional collective impact effort which engages stakeholders from business, government, and education who share the goal to increase regional degree attainment. The work concepts were developed by reviewing national best practices and with critical input from this group. The Detroit Drives Degrees partners will continue to engage in the execution of the work and contribute to its success.

To learn more visit or contact Melanie D’Evelyn at


About Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out through creating a business-friendly climate and value for members, leading a robust economic development strategy, and convening Michigan’s most influential audience at the nationally unique Mackinac Policy Conference.

About Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit

Detroit Regional Chamber, General Motors Announce NeighborHUB Grant Winners

• Five grants up to $30,000 awarded to Detroit neighborhood nonprofit organizations.
• Yearlong project work to begin this month.

DETROIT, Mich., Oct. 16 2019 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber and General Motors announced the second cohort of awardees for the NeighborHUB grant program. Five neighborhood nonprofit organizations will receive a grant and in-kind business support for innovative and collaborative solutions to problems their community faces. The NeighborHUB program is a collaborative effort between the Chamber and General Motors that is designed to empower residents in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park to affect change in their neighborhoods through physical presence and innovative programming.

The grant awardees include:

  • Bridging Communities, Inc.
  • Miracles to Inspire Change and Healing After Experiencing Loss
  • Northend Christian Community Development Corporation (CDC)
  • The Avalon Village
  • 360 Detroit, Inc.

“In its first year, the NeighborHUB program was an unqualified success, helping organizations engage Detroiters to drive change throughout the city,” said Terry Rhadigan, executive director of Corporate Giving at General Motors. “As we award the second cohort of nonprofits the opportunity to make a positive impact in their neighborhoods, we are proud and eager to see the continued momentum fostered by this program.”

The NeighborHUB program was announced last year at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference and the first cohort of t grant awardees are set to finish their projects this month. This year’s application period launched in July and was open through August. Through a collaborative process, an advisory selection committee composed of representatives from the Chamber, General Motors and a representative from local organizations including the Department of Neighborhoods for the City of Detroit, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, and Michigan Community Resources, reviewed and voted on the proposals.

“We are confident that the committee has selected organizations that will use the grant to provide their neighborhood with viable and innovative resources,” said Tammy Carnrike, chief operating officers for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “It is our hope that this program will continue to serve as a roadmap for creating change in other communities across Detroit and the region.”

More than 50 grant applications were submitted, and the selection process was very competitive. Project work will begin this month and continue until October 2020. Learn more about the projects at

NeighborHUB Grant Program Awardees:

  1. Bridging Communities, Inc.
    Project: Community Kitchen
    Scope: This project proposes the construction of a community kitchen in Southwest Detroit to expand opportunities for intergenerational exchange, commerce, learning, and healthy meals created in the community by the community.
    Grant Award: $30,000“Wow we are truly honored to receive this prestigious award. As a nonprofit, I understand the competition that our application was a part of. We look forward to the celebration and the announcement,” said Phyllis Edwards, the executive director of Bridging Communities, Inc.
  1. Miracles to Inspire Change and Healing After Experiencing Loss
    Project: Kids’ Grief Relief
    Scope: Providing a safe and supportive Hub where children of trauma can begin to heal properly through education, healthy expression of grief, social interaction, and physical activity.
    Grant Award: $30,000“We are overwhelmed with gratitude and cannot overstate how honored we are for being selected as a recipient of this year’s NeighborHUB Grant.  Your support will ignite an astounding level of success that we would not have been able to achieve without you!” said Tacara Woods, founder of Miracles to Inspire Change and Healing After Experiencing Loss.
  1. Northend Christian Community Development Corporation (CDC)
    Project: Reactivation of the Historic Red’s Jazz Shoeshine
    Scope: We’re restoring the historic Red’s Jazz Shoeshine Parlor, bringing home a family-owned business spanning three generations to its original location and activating a vacant storefront with culturally resonant programming.
    Grant Award: $30,000″Thank you so much! We are thrilled to be supported for our work in the North End. We cannot wait to showcase our project upon completion,” said Jerry Ann Hebron, executive director for the Northend Christian Community Development Corporation.
  2. The Avalon Village
    Project: The Homework House
    Scope: Homework House is a big red brick house where under-served Highland Park children come for a kaleidoscope of creative educational activities, meals, laundry and shower facilities – a beautiful, enriching space.
    Grant Award: $30,000″We are truly grateful to the Detroit Regional Chamber for this NeighborHUB grant. It will make a life-changing difference for the children of Highland Park and for all of us at Avalon Village,” said Shamayim ‘Mama Shu’ Harris, founder and CEO of Avalon Village. “This funding will give us the final push we need to complete The Homework House, an after-school safe haven in our self-sustaining eco village. The house was slated to be demolished, but we have been lovingly restoring it for several years with a geothermal heating and cooling system, a solar roof and so much more. We can’t wait to open our doors to local students! Special thanks to the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency for their partnership and support.”
  1. 360 Detroit, Inc.
    Project: Community House
    Scope: Create a community art house and gathering space to host art classes, cooking classes, and reading and financial literacy training.
    Grant Award: $30,000“Positive action, not just talk is the key ingredient for a healthy community,” said George Adams, president and founder of 360 Detroit, Inc.


About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out through creating a business-friendly climate and value for members, leading a robust economic development strategy, and convening Michigan’s most influential audience at the nationally unique Mackinac Policy Conference.

About General Motors

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) has leadership positions in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at

Detroit Regional Chamber Statement on Grand Hotel Sale

The below statement on the sale of Grand Hotel from Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber:

“For more than eight decades the Musser family has served as tremendous stewards of Grand Hotel, one of Michigan’s most unique and valuable landmarks. Led today by Dan Musser III, the Grand Hotel team continues to polish this historic jewel to provide guests from around the globe a best-in-class experience.


“For 39 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber and Michigan’s business and government leaders have enjoyed the privilege of calling Grand Hotel home for one week each spring during the annual Mackinac Policy Conference. I expect this tradition to continue for many years.


“The Grand Hotel and its incredible, dedicated staff are our extended family. Both the venue and the Grand’s team are key factors in making the Mackinac Policy Conference unique and special. Our team is comforted to know the Grand’s executive leadership team, including Dan Musser III, will remain in place. We look forward to working with the Grand Hotel under its new ownership in planning the 2020 Mackinac Policy Conference and beyond.”


Read the press release on Grand Hotel’s website.

Chamber’s Research Team Shares Regional Data Insights at National Conference

Representing the Detroit region, the Chamber’s research team attend the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The national conference, which took place June 3 to June 7, convened more than 315 community and economic researchers.

Christyn Lucas, manager of business research for the Chamber, participated in a session titled Integrating Multiple Economies Within One Region exploring how individual communities must look beyond their borders and include nearby areas within a larger region when marketing themselves. Doing so can better help regional economists target meaningful and actionable data. Panelists discussed how regions such as Charlotte, North Carolina, Detroit, and other metropolitan areas share a labor shed — an area from which an employment center draws its commuting workers — with counties that have seen major economic transformation over the past two decades. They also explored how researchers can uncover the multiple economies within their regions and link “new economy” opportunities to “old economy” areas.

Lucas presented on Detroit’s automotive industry transformation and expansion into the mobility space along with Workforce Intelligence Network’s Michelle Wein and representatives from the Charlotte region.

“The transformation of the Detroit region — from automotive to mobility — over the past decade resonated with attendees from across the country, who also have experienced changes to their industry footprints and economies,” Lucas said. “Sharing best practices at this conference, focused on data and research, proves to be a valuable way to connect and improve the economies of all regions.”

Angela Ladetto, director of business research for the Chamber, participated in The Data-ing Game, a session reminiscent of the popular game show, The Dating Game. Guest contestants were asked several questions by a St. Louis-based site selection consultant. Contestants shared stories and best practices regarding how they use data to create compelling business propositions that resulted in a corporate investment win. At the end of the session, the site consultant crowned one lucky contestant winner.

“Getting together every year with 300-plus research professionals at the annual C2ER conference is a great way to stay abreast of research best practices, to learn more about other regions’ ongoing research, and discover new tools,” Ladetto said.

Detroit Regional Chamber’s Core Principles on Auto Insurance Reform

With auto insurance debates heating up in Lansing, the Detroit Regional Chamber is highly involved in the discussions working with bipartisan legislators and the governor’s office. The Chamber membership and Board are united in the recognition that the high cost of auto insurance is a critical issue that impacts our state’s economic development, talent attraction, and citizen well-being, and must be addressed.

The Chamber is eager to support legislation that meets the following criteria:

  • Result in a statewide and quantifiable reduction in auto insurance rates.
  • Recognize that rate reduction must be even greater in urban areas. Even a 20% reduction in urban areas leaves auto insurance unaffordable for low-income residents.
  • Reduce the number of uninsured drivers through rate reduction and increased mobility options for low-income residents.
  • Maintain Michigan’s high-quality health care delivery system.
  • Reduce insurance related fraud.

Detroit Regional Chamber Reform Vision

Auto insurance is a statewide issue that demands to be addressed. While our membership does not have a consensus view regarding detailed solutions, the Chamber supports the following core principles.

  • Reform should provide additional oversight of attendant care, particularly when delivered by relatives of the injured.
  • Michigan should pursue insurance fraud at all levels through a strong fraud authority or another enforcement mechanism.
  • Any proposed regulation of reimbursement rates should consider:

– The impact on motorists requiring catastrophic care, particularly care in trauma centers.

– The ability of health care providers to provide quality care.

– The need to lower rates for drivers across geographic, socioeconomic, and other demographic factors.

– Michigan’s insurance rates are high across the state, however, drivers in urban areas are disproportionately impacted. Reviewing the factors that cause high rates should be a special focus of policymakers.

  • Uninsured drivers in high-cost areas, like the city of Detroit, are left with few alternatives to driving illegally because of the region’s lack of effective and efficient public transportation. The number of uninsured drivers is a key component of insurance costs and the region’s consistent failure to provide mobility options has exacerbated the problem.

The Chamber Board endorsed these principles in 2017. The Chamber’s Government Relations team urges that all impacted parties must be at the table and compromise equally – there is no one single aspect of this challenge that can solve this problem – or can escape reform.

Opinion: Skills gap proposals earn broad support

May 8, 2019

The Detroit News 

Sandy Baruah and David Hecker 

As presidents of the Detroit Regional Chamber and the American Federation of Teachers Michigan respectively, we don’t always agree on public policy.

However, we do strongly agree that Michigan needs to increase the number of residents with good-paying jobs, and to close the skills gap that is threatening the future growth of our businesses.

Legislation that would do just that is now in front of the Legislature. Remarkably, in this era of partisan deadlock these proposals were developed — and have gained support — in a bipartisan manner, and were welcomed by major business organizations, labor unions, and a wide range of education and community groups across Michigan.

The reason for this broad support in an era of divided government is that these two proposals from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — MI Opportunity and Reconnect — are investments in Michigan’s talent base. They are aimed at advancing a goal shared by the chamber, the AFT, and the governor to increase our postsecondary attainment rate from 45% to 60% by 2030. More than a half-million jobs are expected to be available over the next half decade in Michigan that require more than a high school diploma — and employers have indicated their biggest concern is that we won’t have the talent to fill them.

View the full article here

Detroit Promise Path Boosts Full-Time Enrollment, Persistence, and Credit Accumulation by Detroit Community College Students

The first-year effects are among the largest seen in higher ed evaluation research
(Detroit, April 24, 2019) — A study conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research firm, shows that the Detroit Promise Path increases the likelihood that students will enroll full time, persist in school, attend summer sessions, and earn more credits. The Detroit Promise Path is a program put in place by the Detroit Regional Chamber in partnership with MDRC that adds evidence-based college support services to the promise scholarship model. The study was released at the Michigan College Promise Symposium, a gathering of business, education and government leaders.

The Detroit Promise Path provides students with campus coaches and financial stipends to help them both successfully enroll in college and persist beyond the first semester. Results from MDRC’s rigorous random assignment evaluation show that Detroit Promise Path has particularly strong effects in the first year. For example:

  • Student participants were 8.1 percentage points more likely to enroll in their second semester than students who received the scholarship but did not participate in the Path program (62.7% vs. 54.6%) — and 10.3 percentage points more likely to enroll full time (32.9% vs. 22.6%).
  •  Student participants were nearly three times more likely to enroll in the summer session their first year (20.5% vs. 7.0%). Research has shown that students who enroll in summer courses are more likely to persist and graduate.
  • Perhaps most notably, students were nearly twice as likely to complete 24 or more credits their first year (10.8% vs. 5.6%), an important marker of being on a successful path to completion.
  • Students reported positive experiences in the program, especially in their relationships with their coaches.

“The effects of the Detroit Promise Path on persistence and full-time enrollment in the second semester are among the largest we’ve seen in rigorous tests of higher education interventions,” said Alexander Mayer, deputy director of postsecondary education at MDRC, who presented the results at the Michigan College Promise Symposium. “It’s good news for the larger College Promise field, and we look forward to learning whether these results persist and eventually translate into higher graduation rates for Detroit Promise Path students overall.”

Although it is too early to reach a conclusion about the effects in the second year of the study, the early findings are encouraging. Based on data from the first group of enrollees in Detroit Promise Path, second-year findings are positive, but not all are statistically significant and the effect on credits earned is smaller.

“Providing Detroit high schools students access to college is one part of a solution to ensuring student success. It is equally important to understand and address the barriers students in order to help them persist in college,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “The MDRC results on the program are promising, and we look forward to continuing to remove barriers to education for Detroiters.”

“We at the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF) are thrilled at the results of the evaluation of the Detroit Promise Program. Our goal from the beginning is to ensure that every student has the opportunity for a postsecondary education and for the support needed for success. Working with our partner funders like the Kellogg Foundation and others, we’re pleased their investment has yielded this kind of success and that the program has quickly become a national model,” said Peter Remington, president of Michigan Education Excellence Foundation.

“We know that access to quality higher education is a critical pathway for economic mobility. The Detroit Promise Path program demonstrates that an evidence-based approach can lead to improved student outcomes, and open more opportunities for more Americans,” said Michele Jolin, CEO, and co-founder of Results for America, a national nonprofit that helps decision-makers at all levels of government harness the power of evidence and data to solve problems.

The study was unveiled and discussed during the National College Promise Symposium at the Detroit Regional Chamber in partnership with the College Promise Campaign, The Kresge Foundation and United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

“Michigan is a leader in college promise programs, and it again has provided valuable insights. Our national partners will be examining this research to better understand how we can all create more support that can bolster student persistence and completion. Closing the guidance gap is key to creating a college-going culture,” says Martha Kanter, executive director, College Promise Campaign. The nonprofit, nonpartisan campaign reports that supporters have started over 300 college promise programs in 44 states, with over 20 states having statewide promise programs.

“MDRC’s analysis of the Detroit Promise Path provides critical proof points demonstrating that well-targeted student supports alongside reduced financial barriers are at the heart of improving student outcomes,” said Bill Moses, managing director of The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. “Student success is central to our mission at Kresge and we are proud to support research that illuminates effective methods of helping more students from low-income households and students of color succeed in college.”

“A postsecondary degree can be a game changer for young people and their families,” said Dr. Darienne Driver Hudson, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “It is critical that our high-school-focused investments in College and Career Pathways serve as a bridge to postsecondary opportunities. As this report demonstrates, access to wraparound supports are integral to ensuring children are equipped to compete in today’s global economy.”

The new report, A Path from Access to Success: Interim Findings from the Detroit Promise Path Evaluation, is available on MDRC’s website. MDRC also released a report from its College Promise Success Initiative describing ways in which promise programs have designed and implemented similar student support components to boost student success. The report points to several tools on MDRC’s website that promise programs around the nation can use to improve their own offerings to students.

The Detroit Promise Path program and evaluation are primarily funded by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, with additional support from W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Ford Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and The Kresge Foundation. The Detroit Promise Path evaluation is affiliated with MDRC’s College Promise Success Initiative, which is funded by Ascendium Education Group.

View or download the full study.

• John Hutchins, MDRC, 212-340-8604,
• Kelly Weatherwax, Detroit Regional Chamber, 313-596-0360,

Detroit Regional Chamber Launches Online Data Portal

Kelly Weatherwax


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE was Created as a Resource for the 11-county Detroit Region

April 2, 2019, Detroit, MI – The Detroit Regional Chamber has launched a new online data dashboard resource at to provide the 11-county Detroit region with extensive workforce and industry statistics to make data-driven business, philanthropic, policy, and career decisions. The Detroit Regional Data Center, created by Headlight Data of Austin, Texas, provides a one-stop, interactive, online portal for all economic, workforce, education, demographic, and social data on the Detroit region, the company’s Headlight Dashboard with the largest regional footprint.

“As the keeper of the region’s data, we see the Detroit Regional Data Center as an investment into the Detroit Region,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber. “I encourage businesses, nonprofits, and economic developers, and others to use this best-in-class resource to make data-driven decisions to advance their missions, promote the region, and continue moving the economy forward.”

The Data Center is a complimentary resource to access continuously updated data and reports to stay up-to-date on economic trends, opportunities in target industries, and demographic and social trends in the local economy.

–          Local businesses and employers can access data about county and regional demographics, wage information, and workforce by occupation and industry.

–          Economic developers can use the data as a tool for developing client proposals including, workforce by occupation and industry.

–          Grant seekers can use demographic and economic data to write more compelling proposals.

–          Students and job seekers can review data to discover what occupations and industries are available and growing in the region.

–          Site selectors can find vast amounts of data that relate to their research when looking at the Detroit Region for economic development opportunities.

–          Media can utilize the data to tell a compelling story of the region.

The Data Center will advance the Chamber’s mission of fueling economic growth, promoting collaboration between businesses and other community organizations, and providing stakeholders with resources to utilize while tackling and solving critical regional issues.

Data provided is five export formats for the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn MSA, Genesee County/Flint MSA, Lapeer County, Lenawee County, Livingston County, Macomb County, Monroe County/Monroe MSA, Oakland County, St. Clair County, Shiawassee County, Washtenaw County/Ann Arbor MSA, Wayne County. In addition, state of Michigan and city of Detroit data is available for specific data sets.

The Data Center is being funding by the Chamber with a portion of the cost being offset by the Detroit Regional Partnership.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out through creating a business-friendly climate and value for members, leading a robust economic development strategy, and convening Michigan’s most influential audience at the nationally unique Mackinac Policy Conference.

About Headlight Data

Headlight Data is an award-winning online data system that enables economic and workforce development organizations to produce data-intensive websites on their community’s economy and workforce, allowing them to better serve prospects, site selectors, and their residents.