Research on Strategies to Prevent and Alleviate Poverty in Michigan
Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and the Detroit URC provide a joint funding opportunity for collaborations between academic researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, and community-based partners throughout the State of Michigan. The grants support research projects focused on evaluating and strengthening interventions, programs, and policies that seek to prevent and alleviate poverty in the State of Michigan. Funding is available to undertake research that is collaboratively developed by community and academic partners. A faculty member from any U-M campus must serve as a Principal Investigator. Partnerships with faculty across multiple campuses are encouraged.
Poverty Solutions and the Detroit URC are working in partnership to support collaborative research in the state of Michigan that:
Projects support activities designed to prevent and alleviate poverty such as:
Click on the headings below to view more information about past grantees, funding opportunities, and publications.
Round 1 Grantee Team Descriptions: 2017
Barrier Busting in the HOPE Village Neighborhood Network
Sometimes small barriers, solvable with relatively minor amounts of funding, present major obstacles for those living in poverty. For many Detroit residents, these barriers prevent them from making progress toward their goals of economic self-sufficiency.
Through a partnership between the Ross School of Business and Focus: HOPE, a nonprofit civil and human rights organization based in Detroit, this project team will introduce and evaluate a “Barrier Buster” pilot program that provides small grants to address these challenges. This new barrier buster approach is intended to promote economic self-sufficiency among low-income Detroit residents, and has the potential to inform future programming in the region and across the country.
Michael Gordon, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Business Administration
Noel Tichy, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management.
Debbie Fisher, Director, Focus: HOPE
Stephanie Moore, Youth Education Program Director, Focus: HOPE
Julie Phenis, Operations Manager, Focus: HOPE
Helping a House Remain a Home
Each year, non-payment of property taxes causes thousands of Detroit residents to lose their homes to tax foreclosure. Detroit’s exceptionally high tax rate disproportionately burdens low-income residents, threatening their ability to maintain homeownership and attain long-term financial stability. Michigan law (MCL 211.7u) requires local governing bodies to make a Poverty Tax Exemption (PTE) available for homeowners in poverty who own and occupy their property. By reducing or eliminating property taxes for low-income homeowners, this policy works to alleviate poverty by decreasing household tax burden and preventing the devastating financial consequences of property tax foreclosure.
While approximately 12,000 homeowners living in poverty qualify for the PTE, the policy remains underutilized by residents in need. In partnership with the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC), the Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP), a long-standing community-based participatory research partnership, and the U-M School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE), this project will evaluate the effectiveness of the policy and study potential factors that may hinder or facilitate its access. Findings will inform best practices across local governing bodies to strengthen this policy’s ability to alleviate poverty in Detroit and statewide.
Roshanak Mehdipanah, Assistant Professor, HBHE, U-M Public Health
Alexa Eisenberg, Doctoral Candidate, HBHE, U-M Public Health
Ted Phillips, Director, UCHC
Michele Oberholtzer, Tax Foreclosure Prevention Project Coordinator, UCHC
Improving Health and Strengthening Communities
Health and poverty are inextricably linked. Health problems interfere with work and education, and poverty exacerbates health problems, producing a cycle of negative influence that maintains both poverty and ill-health. An effective approach to improve health is through community health workers (CHWs), recruited from and working in their home neighborhoods. Such positions also provide jobs within those same neighborhoods, lower costs for health care and insurance providers, improve health outcomes for community members, and increase economic attainment along multiple dimensions, in a positive cycle that works against poverty.
This project will develop a new model for employing community health workers to serve the Detroit Cody-Rouge neighborhood. It will involve a unique partnership between investigators from U-M’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI), the Detroit Health Department, Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation, Inc., and five Detroit Medicaid health plans. This unique model has the potential to be the largest infusion of CHWs into a community from an allied network of health care providers and to significantly improve the physical and economic well-being of residents in Detroit.
Michele Heisler, U-M IHPI
David J. Law, Executive Director of Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation, Inc. (JSCDC)
Abdul El-Sayed, Executive Director and Health Officer, Detroit Health Department
Preserving Low-Income Housing in Detroit
The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program is the nation's largest source of financing for building or rehabilitating affordable housing. The sale of the credits provides equity to help finance the production of decent affordable housing for low-income renters who are in or near poverty, many of whom are elderly or disabled or have experienced chronic homelessness. But once projects reach 15 years of operation, investors sell their ownership, often leaving affordable housing projects in need of new sources of capital to provide much needed maintenance. In Detroit, more than 5,300 units will reach 15 years between now and 2020, so finding solutions to restructuring financing and management is an urgent need.
For more than a year, U-M researchers have teamed with a Detroit LIHTC task force to analyze the financing and ownership to preserve decent affordable housing after this critical timeframe. Through this partnership, researchers will determine strategies that can help address the looming crisis. Analysis of solutions is integrated into all parts of the research, and the work will produce recommendations with partners who can implement these through their roles in the affordable housing industry.
Margaret Dewar, Professor, U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Lan Deng, Associate Professor, U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Sarida Scott, Executive Director, Community Development Advocates of Detroit
LaToya Morgan, Policy Director, Community Development Advocates of Detroit
Julie Schneider, Detroit Department of Housing and Revitalization
Tahirih Ziegler, Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Victor Alba, Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Dennis Quinn, Cinnaire
Yulonda Byrd, Cinnaire
Tim Thorland, Southwest Housing Solutions
Kirby Burkholder, IFF
Round 2 Grantee Team Descriptions: 2018
Overcoming the chilling effect: Identifying strategies for improving immigrant families’ acceptability and accessibility to health and social services that alleviate poverty
Clinicians have worried about the “chilling effect” the recent immigration enforcement and anti-immigrant rhetoric might have on undocumented patients seeking health care. As a federally qualified health Center (FQHC) in Southwest Detroit, Community Health and Social Service Center (CHASS) and other FQHCs nationwide play an important role for undocumented immigrants because they are required to offer primary care services at a sliding-scale fee to uninsured and underinsured patients. Additionally, FQHCs such as CHASS provide on-site connections to other social services such as Women, Infants & Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), mental health counselors, and social workers, making them a critical community asset.
The leadership team at CHASS is seeking ways to ensure local undocumented immigrants and their families can feel safe and welcomed to receiving and accessing health and social services at their clinic. In partnership with the Department of Health Behavior & Health Education at the University of Michigan (UM) School of Public Health, this research team will explore the effects of increased immigration enforcement on health care, and identify promising strategies for how Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) might modify their services or outreach efforts to overcome barriers to care for undocumented immigrants and their families.
Paul J. Fleming, Dept. of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health
William D. Lopez, Dept. of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, National Center for Institutional Development
Richard Bryce, Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS)
Partnership for Economic Independence
How can digital tools facilitate mentorship for an inclusive population? The Eastside Community Network and the University of Michigan School of Information will answer this question through an evaluation of the Lower Eastside Economic Mobility (LEEM) program’s impact on low-income participants’ psychosocial wellbeing and the perceived effectiveness of the program toward increasing employment and economic self-sufficiency.
This project will assign mentors to participants from three Detroit ZIP codes; assess the impact of the program on participating community members’ hope, self-efficacy, self-sufficiency, social support, and perceptions of their economic and psychosocial development; and explore opportunities for digital tools to support these programs in the future. Broadly, the results of this project will lead to a more refined approach to mentorship programs that support economic mobility.
Tawanna Dillahunt, University of Michigan School of Information
Donna Givens, Eastside Community Network
Angela Brown Wilson, Eastside Community Network
Earnest Wheeler, University of Michigan School of Information
Breaking the Cycle: Refining the Trauma-Informed Clinical Ethnographic Narrative Intervention (CENITF)
In 2016, over 9,700 family households across Michigan, accounting for 24,766 people, entered an emergency shelter due to homelessness. The majority of these households were headed by a single female with one or two children under eleven years of age. Prior research has demonstrated that more than 90% of mothers who become homeless have significant histories of childhood trauma, as well as episodes of domestic violence and victimization that recur throughout their adult years.
A new project will expand upon an existing evidence-based intervention developed by a team from the University of Michigan School of Nursing and the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Detroit, which has been used with women to facilitate their disclosure and meaning-making of traumatic life experiences, and support help seeking activities.
This research team has worked closely with the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Detroit, an agency that provides emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing services to families, to better understand the life events and needs of their clients. This project will refine and adapt existing interventions for use with homeless women. The team will also partner with Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) and SOS Community Services to develop an on-site integrative care model that streamlines and sustains access to acceptable and affordable/covered trauma-informed health services for women from shelter to rehousing.
Laura E. Gultekin, University of Michigan School of Nursing
Barbara L. Brush, University of Michigan School of Nursing
Denise Saint Arnault, University of Michigan School of Nursing
Delphia Simmons, Coalition on Temporary Shelter
Richard Bryce, Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS)
Sharon Lapides, SOS Community Services
Kathleen Durkin, University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry
Assessing the impact of intergenerational asset building programming on the self‐efficacy, academic achievement and college going culture of low‐income Black and Latino girls
The partnership is committed to serving these girls on a long‐term basis, and aims that each participant will save $1,000 to $4,000 toward her education by high school completion. Each girl will graduate from high school and enter a post‐secondary education/training program, and will complete a post‐secondary training program, or at least the first two years of college.
Melody Moore, Alternatives for Girls
Round 3 Grantee Team Descriptions: 2019
Engaging low-income and minority communities in prioritizing community health benefits
There are a variety of competing health needs in communities, particularly in minority and low-income communities, which often have worse health outcomes than other communities. This project, a collaboration between the University of Michigan Medical School and Friends of Parkside, a non-profit on Detroit’s eastside, proposes a new approach to address health disparities by meaningfully engaging communities in decision-making to prioritize community health needs.
The literature shows that community engagement, improved health, and poverty reduction are all interconnected. This project will evaluate the use of a simulation exercise, CHAT (CHoosing All Together), to engage underserved, minority community members in setting priorities for community health benefit (CHB). Using CHAT, participants prioritize competing needs for limited resources. Specifically, this project will:
Although the US health system is evolving to focus more on community health and social determinants of health, there is little incentive for healthcare organizations (HCOs) to have ongoing collaborations with communities in order to prioritize and address community needs or to improve health equity. Engaging underserved and minority communities in setting health priorities could influence decisions made by HCOs and other entities, encourage HCOs to prioritize work on community identified needs, and encourage HCOs to be more inclusive and transparent in their decision-making and required investments in their communities.
Susan Dorr Goold, U-M Medical School
Zachary Rowe, Friends of Parkside
Karen Calhoun, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR)
Jen Skillicorn, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine (CBSSM)
Maryn Lewallen, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine (CBSSM)
Identifying the recipe for success: can a new cooking class program in a community health center increase participation in existing center programs and build core skills to decrease food insecurity among low-income patients?
Many area households do not have enough access to healthy, affordable food. This food insecurity is associated with poverty and numerous health problems in both children and adults. Evidence suggests that teaching cooking skills can help people better manage food insecurity by teaching them how to better reduce food waste, budget and plan meals, and cook healthy meals with inexpensive ingredients.
In this new research partnership between Community Health and Social Services Center, Inc. (CHASS), the University of Michigan Medical School and the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, team members will collaboratively develop and pilot a new cooking skills intervention. The project aims to:
Julia A. Wolfson, Dept. of Health Management and Policy, U-M School of Public Health
Caroline Richardson, Dept. of Family Medicine, U-M Medical School
Richard Bryce, Community Health and Social Services Center, Inc. (CHASS)
Denise Pike, Community Health and Social Services Center, Inc. (CHASS)
Michigan evictions: assessing data sources and exploring determinants
Each year, tens of thousands of Michigan households lose their homes as a result of court-ordered evictions, and Michigan cities have some of the highest eviction rates in the nation. The goal of this project is to analyze available data to better understand the prevalence, patterns, and causes of evictions in Michigan, and inform decisions by social services, legal services, and policymakers to address the problem, while also contributing to the growing national research literature on the topic.
This is a partnership between the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan and the Michigan Advocacy Program. The project has three primary aims:
Robert Goodspeed, U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Margaret Dewar, U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan
Elizabeth Benton, Michigan Advocacy Program
Providing opportunity, not punishment: implementing a pilot functional sentencing program in southeast Michigan
This project is grounded in the perspective that the criminal justice system is broken. Over-criminalization and reliance on retributive punishment have resulted in a system of oppression that entrenches poverty and harms those on the margins. By shifting the focus to healing, rather than punishment, the criminal justice system can simultaneously address the root causes of offending behavior and improve lives while enhancing public safety.
Street Democracy, a non-profit organization located in Detroit, Michigan, will implement a pilot Functional Sentencing program in Southeast Michigan. Street Democracy, founded in 2006, is comprised of a small group of attorneys and legal researchers whose mission is to reform the systems that create and perpetuate poverty in Detroit. In contrast to traditional sentencing, where the focus is on punitive mechanisms such as fines and fees, the Functional Sentencing program proposed by Street Democracy attempts to “help an individual permanently exit the criminal justice system by replacing fines and costs with targeted interventions (e.g. job placement and medical services) that address the root causes of an individual’s offense” (Street Democracy, 2018). In 2017, Street Democracy successfully launched an initial pilot of a similar Functional Sentencing program in the 31st District Court in Hamtramck, Michigan.
This new collaboration with University of Michigan-Dearborn will research and implement a more permanent, larger-scale version of this program in order to lay the foundation for expanding the availability of Functional Sentencing throughout Michigan, as well as improve methods of collecting data on clients who have gone through the process.
More broadly, this research project will contribute to understanding about problem-solving courts, identifying the factors that may be most effective in reducing recidivism, as well as help illustrate the ways in which alternative sentencing structures may contribute to improving trust in the judicial system.
Francine Banner, Sociology, UM-Dearborn, Sociology
Jayesh Patel, Street Democracy
Lara Rusch, Political Science, UM-Dearborn
Jessica Camp, Social Work, UM-Dearborn
Rachel Buzzeo, Behavioral Sciences, UM-Dearborn
Funding Opportunity Information
Terms of Funding and Eligibility Criteria for 2019
Selection Criteria for 2019
Applications are evaluated by academic and community partners affiliated with the Detroit URC and Poverty Solutions who have expertise in collaborative research and poverty prevention and alleviation. The selection criteria used to review the proposals include:
Timeline of Important Dates
Deadline for Receipt of Proposals
November 12, 2018
Notification of Award
December 10, 2018
Project Start Date
January 1, 2019
First Grantees Meeting
January 31, 2019
Second Grantees Meeting
Mid-Way Progress Report Due
July 15, 2019
Project End Date
December 31, 2019
Final Report Due
January 31, 2020
Third Grantees Meeting
In the fall of 2015, with modest funding primarily from individual donors, Alternatives for Girls successfully piloted a new "Asset Building" model to encourage middle school girls and their families to academically prepare for high school, career and college, and to save for future post‐secondary education and training expenses.Building on this existing work, the next phase of work will support up to 60 middle and high school girls and their families to prepare for success in school, career and college, and to save for future education costs by providing matching funds to all monies saved by families for college costs.Moving forward, Alternatives For Girls is focusing on enhancing program robustness, further engaging parents, and strengthening linkages to other college access resources in Detroit. Dr. Trina Shanks, of the University of Michigan School of Social Work, will assist AFG in identifying and implementing interventions that can strengthen the existing program to achieve more asset building and poverty alleviation results.
Trina Shanks, University of Michigan School of Social Work
While not a requirement, preference is given to applications that meet the above criteria and one or two additional criteria: