Winter 2022 Newsletter
The Detroit URC wishes you a happy and healthy new year! This issue includes information about ongoing environmental racism in Detroit, grant funding and partnership with Focus: HOPE, highlights from presentations at APHA, welcoming new staff and students to the Detroit URC, exciting updates on our Partnership Academy, and accomplishments from our affiliated partnerships and organizations. Learn more about how community-based participatory research (CBPR) is at work in Detroit and beyond!
Detroit URC Holiday Gathering
We were fortunate to gather together this year to connect and celebrate the accomplishments of 2022.
Detroit URC Board Member Update:
Farewell and Welcome
The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing has been a strong presence on the Detroit URC Board for the past 27 years. For the past 8 years, Dr. Barb Brush, Professor, Associate Director, National Clinician Scholars Program (IHPI); Professor, School of Public Health; Department of Systems, Populations and Leadership has been the representative for the school, has been an invaluable member on the Board contributing to many activities and programs, such as the CBPR Partnership Academy, and has worked in long-standing CBPR partnerships to address housing instability and homelessness in Detroit. She has also headed up Measurement Approaches to Partnership Success (MAPS), a NIH-funded project of the Detroit URC which has developed a tool to measure and validate success in long-standing CBPR partnerships. This year Dr. Brush has stepped down, and she will be greatly missed. Joining the Board in her place is Dr. Jade Burns, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Dr. Burn’s research interests are centered on innovative approaches using community-engaged research and technology to improve healthcare and sexual health outcomes among adolescents at community health care centers. We are so excited to have her join our team. Welcome Dr. Burns!
Dr. Barb Brush
University of Michigan School of Nursing
Professor, Associate Director, National Clinician Scholars Program (IHPI); Professor, School of Public Health; Department of Systems, Populations and Leadership
Dr. Jade Burns
University of Michigan School of Nursing
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences
Environmental Racism in Detroit
How the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge contributes to the ongoing environmental issues that disproportionately affect residents in southwest Detroit.

On a warm fall morning this October, a group of University of Michigan students and faculty members made their way to Detroit to the Community Health and Social Services Center, Inc. (CHASS). Several organizations, including Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC), Community Health and Social Services (CHASS), the M-LEEaD Center, the Center for Occupational Health and Safety, and Community Action to Promote Healthy Environments (CAPHE) came together to host a tour of the southwest Detroit area to give interested parties the opportunity to see, in-person, the environmental racism happening in the city. CAPHE is a long-time affiliated partnershipship with the Detroit URC. They are a community-based participatory research partnership that includes community-based organizations, the health practice community, environmental organizations, and academic researchers. CAPHE’s goal has been to work together to develop and implement a public health action plan to improve air quality and health in Detroit.The goal of this tour was to highlight the frequently unseen impacts of construction on predominantly residents of color whose voices are often unheard when major construction decisions are made. In addition, DHDC and CHASS are founding and current members of the Detroit URC Board.

Once we arrived in Detroit, our group was given a brief background about the new Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB) project and its effect on the surrounding population. After learning more from both community experts and University of Michigan faculty, we boarded a bus to tour the Southwest area being affected. Simone Sagovac, program director of Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, and expert on the area, and Cindy Gamboa, from Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, facilitated this tour. 

The tour started in Delray, a neighborhood in the heart of the bridge construction. Many residents of Delray have left their homes and relocated, some as a result of the community benefits obtained through the organizing efforts of community residents. Other residents, living adjacent to the GHIB footprint, were not bought out by the GHIB and will remain in this highly polluted area, which will experience heightened mobile sources of pollutants as bridge related traffic increases. Out the bus windows we could not only see how the population is currently affected by the heavy concentration of industry in the area, but actually smell it and hear it as well. Smells of sulfur and chemicals and the sounds of heavy machinery and large trucks were prominent throughout the tour. 

The need for a public bridge between Detroit and Windsor has been discussed for many years. Yet, the decision to place this bridge in the same community as the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge, increasing the air pollution, noise, and unhealthy release of chemicals, is a large injustice for which community benefits can never adequately compensate. “Empathy has been a key plank of ours” said Sagovac at the end of the group reflection. “This affects everyone.”
William T. Grant Foundation Award
William T. Grant Foundation awards $650,000 to University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and Detroit-based community organization, Focus: HOPE. 
Last Spring, a $650,000 Institutional Challenge Grant from the William T. Grant Foundation was awarded to a project focused on workforce-development for Black and Hispanic youth in Detroit. The project will be co-led by the Detroit URC’s Associate Director, Dr. Enrique Neblett in collaboration with Mr. Jasahn Larsosa, Director of Advocacy, Equity & Community Empowerment of Focus: HOPE, a Detroit-based civil rights and human services organization. The long term goal of this project is to “build, test and increase understanding of workforce development programs offered by Focus: HOPE to reduce inequality in the employment, economic, and mental health outcomes of African American and Hispanic American young people.”
In 2015, Dr. Neblett was in the inaugural cohort of the Detroit URC’s CBPR Partnership Academy. As he stated, “If I had not participated in the program, I would not have been able to write a grant that has CBPR at the heart and core of the approach.” Since joining the Center, he has met many wonderful people who have inspired him with their own research and programs that use CBPR. 

“I am excited about this partnership. I have expertise in mental health and Focus: HOPE has a number of programs that they are trying to provide to residents and enhance outcomes. We are putting our areas of expertise together to promote successful completion of workforce development programs as well as the mental health and economic success of youth who participate.”
Detroit URC Projects
CBPR Partnership Academy

We were in person once again: Launching the 5th cohort of the CBPR Partnership Academy!

This past July, the Detroit URC welcomed 24 new participants from 12 different states to the Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Partnership Academy family. Cohort 5 has brought a whole new array of experiences and expertise including work on health equity in the Latino communities in Las Vegas and Connecticut, food policy in Florida, safety and sustainability of drinking water for American Indians in Robeson County, North Carolina, and many more issues across the nation. The Academy added teams from three more unique states- Louisiana, Nevada, and New Jersey and an additional tribal area.   

During the weeklong course in July, the participants got the chance to learn from Detroit Community Partners and Academics about different aspects of community-based participatory research. This year’s program included a day in Detroit where participants saw how community-based organizations (CBOs) like Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation and Eastside Community Network positively impact their communities and attended their sessions in these CBO spaces.. We look forward to continuing working with this cohort, as they establish their partnership development projects/CBPR project work in their home communities.  

Look for news of their work and accomplishments in future newsletters.

Update of Cohort 4: We would also like to congratulate Cohort 4 on their completion of the academy. This cohort has worked hard over the past year. We applaud the work and connections they have made with each other being entirely virtual this last year. We look forward to continuing to hear about their ongoing work together. This includes work to improve perinatal health for undersevered pregnant people in Alabama, investigating alternative solutions for safe and healthy playing surfaces in New York, increasing access to medical services and community resources for those living with disabilities in Texas, and many other incredible projects in Indiana, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee, and Washington D.C.
American Public Health Association National Conference
The Detroit URC was well-represented at the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) held in Boston in November. Zachary Rowe, Executive Director, Friends of Parkside, and Chris Coombe, Associate Research Scientist at U-M School of Public Health gave three presentations to enthusiastic audiences of about 150 each. They were thrilled to share this important work as well as learn from fellow presenters and colleagues. Highlights of each presentation are shared below:
Zachary and Chris gave two presentations, by invitation, on the APHA Science Board Scientific Panel Session titled “Uncertain, Unknown, and Uneven: Communicating evolving science during emergent public health crises.” Focusing on experiences and lessons learned from the Detroit URC and MICEAL (Michigan Communities Conquering COVID-19), they identified key challenges and current best practices in communicating information during periods of rapid information change, mistrust, and intense public health pressures. Using CBPR, they urged scientists to redefine “communicating science” as bi-directional – “communicating by and with the community” - informing science/scientists especially during crises. Zachary highlighted the importance of language, for example the use of the term clinical trials: “Look, I know it's supposed to be better than asking people if they want to be part of an experiment, but what community person wants to volunteer to be part of a "trial?" Examples were presented of innovative tools and approaches that MICEAL partners have developed to communicate by and with communities, and were received with vigorous audience applause. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky attended the standing-room only session. 
Additionally, Zachary and Chris presented at a session on Developing, Funding, and Strengthening the Capacity of Community-Based Participatory Research Projects. Their presentation, “Building a strong foundation for equity: CBPR grant programs to seed development of community-academic research partnerships,” described two grant programs that promote new partnerships through seed funding combined with capacity building workshops/support from community and academic instructors/mentors experienced in CBPR. From 2011-2021, fifty partnerships received grants ranging from $2,500 to $30,000, totaling $605,000. Zachary and Chris shared keys to success, such as funding for teams not individuals; grantee workshops to develop skills, processes, and relationships; and expert guidance from community-academic instructors. Results showed that a small amount of seed funding paired with capacity building assistance can provide essential time and resources needed to develop diverse, equity-focused CBPR partnerships. Zachary and Chris urged funders to enhance impact and sustainability by building such support into their initiatives to advance health and equity.
New Faces at the Detroit URC
Welcome Delaney Ryan and Noelle Kellogg, Detroit URC Research Assistants
Delaney Ryan is a second year Masters of Public Health in the Health Behavior Health Education department. Her research interests are workforce development, education, community-based participatory research, and the social determinants of health. Her favorite dessert is chocolate covered strawberries!
Noelle Kellogg is a second-year Masters of Public Health Student in the Health Behavior and Health Education department. Her research interests include social epidemiology, stigma prevention and mitigation, sexual and reproductive health, and community-based participatory research. Her favorite dessert is ice cream!
Welcome Kori Jones, Detroit URC Administrative Assistant
This past spring the Detroit URC welcomed Kori Jones to the team as the new administrative assistant. Kori plays a key role in supporting the team and community partners in any way possible. Prior to the Detroit URC, Kori has worked at Michigan Medicine in the Patient and Family Centered Care program. She is passionate about supporting work that furthers engagement and participation. When asked what she likes most about her work with the Detroit URC, Kori stated “it is amazing to learn from the community partners and academics who are so open and willing to share in order to enhance and improve the quality of life for their community members. This work is not easy and their drive and passion is inspiring.” Outside of her work with the Detroit URC, Kori spends time camping and hiking with her husband Bill and their three children Mason (15), Maddi (13), and Ava (11).
Michigan Health Endowment Fund
The proposal cycle for 2023 has been released with concept papers accepted end of January, April, and July, and full proposals one month later. A webinar will be held on January 11.

The Community Health Impact Initiative supports health-focused, community-based organizations with bold ideas that empower communities to solve their most pressing health issues and successfully implement health-focused, community driven interventions. These grants are intended to support stronger, healthier communities around the state by being responsive to community needs. Grassroots organizations, neighborhood groups, small and medium size nonprofits are encouraged to apply.

Priority will be given to proposals that clearly demonstrate intentional partnership with community members. Funds are available of up to $150,000 and can be 1 or 2 years in duration. Applicants are required to work with community members in the planning, design, and/or implementation of the program.

Please click the link here for more information.
Partners & Partnership Accomplishments
New Partnership between
Neighbohood Services Organization and
Community Health and Social Services (CHASS)
NSO and CHASS have received a $625,000 grant from Health Resources Services Administration to expand access to community-based care in Detroit. These funds will be used to provide primary care physicians and nurse practitioners and to help integrate primary care, dental care, and behavioral health concerns. The new center also provides pharmacy services.

This is part of a new 22,000 sq ft emergency center that will also provide 17 additional medical respite beds to provide continuing care post-hospitalization for homeless people. “The model that we’re providing with the city to have permanent supportive housing right across the parking lot from an emergency shelter. . .and then have continuing care for people (discharged from the hospital) who are in a housing crisis, on the same campus, is remarkable” said NSO’s CEO Linda Little.

Dr. Felix Valbuena, Executive Director of CHASS commented, “We are eager and excited to join NSO to bring our expertise and long-standing service and dedication to our communities for the benefit of our patients and those that currently do not have an established relationship with a primary care provider.”

The power of partnership in action! Congratulations to URC Board Members and longstanding partners.
Visit us online |