Research Strategies to Prevent and Alleviate Poverty in Michigan

Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and the Detroit URC provided 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 supported research projects focused on evaluating and strengthening interventions, programs, and policies that sought to prevent and alleviate poverty in the State of Michigan. Funding was available to undertake research that was collaboratively developed by community and academic partners. A faculty member from any U-M campus had to serve as a Principal Investigator. Partnerships with faculty across multiple campuses were encouraged. 


Poverty Solutions and the Detroit URC worked in partnership to support collaborative research in the state of Michigan that:

  • enhanced knowledge of the efficacy of interventions, programs and policies for preventing and alleviating poverty;
  • equitably involved community and academic partners in all aspects of the research process;
  • recognized the strengths that each brought to the partnership;
  • promoted co-learning and capacity building of all partners; and
  • benefits community and academic partners.

Projects supported activities designed to prevent and alleviate poverty such as:

  • an evaluation of an existing intervention, program or policy;
  • an analysis of new or existing data to better understand the effectiveness of, or to strengthen, strategies (e.g., interventions, programs and policies);
  • the development, implementation and preliminary evaluation of a new pilot program or an adaptation of an existing program; and
  • an assessment of community needs, strengths, and resources that leads to the identification of new strategies.

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

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.

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.

Trina Shanks, University of Michigan School of Social Work
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:

  • build on and strengthen existing academic-community partnerships with non-profit healthcare organizations (HCO) and community leaders in three geographic areas in Michigan; 
  • with partners, engage community members in determining CHB priorities; and
  • assess the impact of community engagement on participants, on HCO decision-making, and on motivating community entities to improve community health.


CHAT has been used in multiple other research projects, including the largest one in scope called Deliberative Engagement of Communities in Decisions about Resources (DECIDERS). Through this project, a longstanding Steering Committee was established including public health and community leaders representing minority and underserved communities throughout the state of Michigan. This committee is committed to providing ongoing guidance, advice, and support for this new project focused on community health benefit.

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)

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

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:

  • evaluate the quality of data obtained from the Eviction Lab and state and local court records by comparing them in three illustrative counties;
  • conduct an exploratory analysis of determinants of eviction statewide using Eviction Lab Data at the census block group level; and
  • provide recommendations for the further development of policies and programs to reduce evictions in Michigan, as well as recommendations for improved data collection and analysis.

This project is a step in reducing the number of evictions in Michigan because it will help improve the quality of existing eviction data, help explain patterns of evictions, and identify local policies and practices associated with lower rates of eviction.

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

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:

  • understand financial barriers, skill deficits, and preferences associated with cooking meals at home among CHASS patients living in poverty;
  • develop a new cooking skills intervention to address food insecurity; and
  • implement and evaluate the pilot cooking skills intervention.

The findings of this study will help guide future CHASS programs and research, and the project itself may help pave the way for future collaborations with the University of Michigan in this important area of research.

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)

Round 4 Grantee Team Descriptions: 2020

The AfricanFuturist Greenhouse

This proposal will combine the African traditions of generative economy with contemporary technology design to create an AfricanFuturist greenhouse. The greenhouse exterior will be designed by local artists from the African American community to provide aesthetic fit to the museum surroundings. The interior will be designed and prototyped by University of Michigan students, such that it can grow the plant materials for bead creation. It will also supply fresh vegetables and, from an aquaponics tank, fresh fish. By using photoelectric and thermal solar energy, as well as a rain catchment system, the team will create a small scale model for what could become a broader set of self-sufficient, sustainable urban practices that restore the links between living, making and growing which is so important to Indigenous traditions.

Of central importance, these Indigenous traditions of generative economy include reciprocal relations between human and nonhuman value generation. This project will update that using contemporary techniques to grow the feedstock that becomes the beadwork and other adornment sold in the bead museum. Add the technology of solar power, rain catchment, agricultural robotics and AI soil monitoring, and we have a platform for bringing together Detroit economic and resource needs with U-M innovation and experimentation.

Ron Eglash, University of Michigan School of Information
Audrey Bennett, University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design
Olayami Dabls, MBAD/ABA African Bead Museum

Special Delivery: A Community Academic Partnership to Improve the Health of Low-Income Young Mothers and their Children

The goal of this project is to assess the feasibility of using grocery delivery to strengthen WIC services by improving access to and use of food benefits during pregnancy. Grocery delivery, a well-established and inexpensive service, removes logistical barriers to obtaining healthy foods but is underused by low-income populations. The objective of this work is to evaluate whether young pregnant women want and are able to order WIC-covered foods online (feasibility/acceptability) and whether doing so impacts their diet and weight gain during pregnancy. The researchers hypothesize that online ordering of WIC-covered foods will be convenient and will increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. These findings will provide critical evidence to the USDA and State WIC agencies on the impact of expanding online ordering of groceries to include WIC beneficiaries as it currently only allows for some SNAP (food stamp) beneficiaries.

The aims of this project are two-fold. Firstly, researchers will examine the feasibility and acceptability of online ordering of WIC-covered foods measured by both: 1) the number of young pregnant women who are successfully able to independently order online, and by 2) interviews to assess their satisfaction with the process. Secondly, using text message surveys and automated home scales, researchers will assess the impact of food delivery on diet quality and weight gain during pregnancy among young pregnant women age 14-24 years of age, living in three Michigan counties: Genesee, Wayne, and Washtenaw.

Gayathri Akella, Washtenaw County Health Department WIC
Tammy Chang, University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine
Marika Waselewski, University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine

Poverty Alleviation through Entrepreneurship and Urban Microenterprise Development

Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of microenterprise development and neighborhood entrepreneurship training programs in Detroit. The impetus of these programs is to stimulate urban economic development and neighborhood revitalization in the city's underserved communities.

The aim of this study is to evaluate these programs collectively with respect to outcomes of new venture growth, wealth creation, and upward economic mobility in these communities. Specifically, this study seeks to understand and explore the impact of these programs on low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs in these communities and discover best practices in urban entrepreneurial development and wealth creation. Since the primary thrust of entrepreneurship is value creation, the goal of this study is to examine how entrepreneurship can catalyze upward economic mobility among low- to moderate-income individuals in an urban environment.

Marcus D. Harris, University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business
Michael Gordon, Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan
Nicole Farmer, Grand Innovation
April Boyle, Build Institute
Jacquise Purifoy, Build Institute
Crystal J. Scott, University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business
Jeffrey Robinson, Rutgers Business School

Round 5 Grantee Team Descriptions: 2021

The "Community Tech Workers": A Community-Driven Model to Support Economic Mobility by Bridging the Digital Divide

The aim of this project is to pilot and assess the feasibility of a “community tech workers model”—a community-driven, “train the trainer” model that trains local community members to provide digital support to community members experiencing digital poverty. Inspired by the transformative community health workers model, the proposed pilot aims to address the research question, In what ways could community tech workers support the digital needs of low-income Detroit seniors (adults ages 60+) experiencing digital poverty? Participation in the program includes training for workers. Training completion could lead to occupations that do not require advanced degrees, provide a good salary, and are predicted to grow over the next decade as technology becomes more pervasive. We, researchers from the University of Michigan’s School of Information and partners at Friends of Parkside, will follow a community-based participatory research approach. This approach consists of training and a short-term pilot deployment of the first cohort of Community Tech Workers, baseline assessments of digital proficiency, and interviews with tech workers and Parkside seniors who received digital support to address our research questions.

The outcomes of this research will include (1) the pilot and evaluation of a community-based employment model to bridge the digital divide by enabling paid community members to provide digital support within their own communities. Such support might be needed for community members’ employment, learning, and wellbeing. Through this process, we will also (2) identify opportunities for preparing members of the broader Parkside community for employment in technology-based jobs and (3) inform equitable and sustainable business models for novice entrepreneurs who seek self-employment to build their technical capacity. Intellectually, the outcomes of this research will advance the literature in disciplines engaged in human-computer interaction, digital inclusion, ethics, and social entrepreneurship research. 


Tawanna Dillahunt, University of Michigan School of Information
Julie Hui, University of Michigan School of Information
Zachary Rowe, Friends of Parkside

Detroit Housing Counseling: Discovery and Community Data

The specific aims of the Detroit Housing Counseling and Best Practices project are 1) to better understand the state of first time homebuyer housing finance in Detroit, specifically for those receiving HUD certified education, and 2) to convene an assembly of funders, public institutions, and the 16 HUD certified housing counseling agencies in Detroit to identify best practices that make housing counseling and finance available to those who need it, so that actionable and scalable solutions can be implemented to solve for a crisis in available affordable housing. 

The research team will make use of three data sources. First, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has been made of HUD to obtain 5 years of reports for each of the 16 Detroit agencies, from 2014-2019. This data includes the number of people who participated in counseling services, the types of services provided, their demographic characteristics, and more. Second, the research team will use Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data of Wayne County from 2007 to 2017 to catalog all mortgage applications in that time, and corroborate records from the HUD certified counseling agencies. Finally, the research team will make use of data from the National Survey of Mortgage Originations to determine how Detroit compares with national trends. 

Using this data, the research team will deliver a report on the state of homeownership and housing counseling in Detroit in order to convene an assembly of funders, public institutions, and all 16 HUD certified housing counseling agencies. The purpose of this assembly will be to identify best practices in housing counseling that agencies can scale, institutions can support, and funders can get behind. 

The partnership established through this project can serve as a collaborative model between community organizations, real estate professionals, and the university, for addressing the homebuying process, including identifying education gaps and potential wraparound services that anticipate challenges for first-time homebuyers.

Hector Hernandez, Southwest Economic Solutions of Detroit
David Palmer, David Palmer, LLC
Trina Shanks, University of Michigan School of Social Work

Funding Opportunity


Poverty Solutions is an inter-disciplinary initiative at the University of Michigan (U-M) that seeks to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty in Michigan, the nation and the world. The Detroit URC is a community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership aimed at understanding and addressing the social and physical environmental factors that contribute to health inequities. Detroit URC equitably includes academic researchers at the University of Michigan and community-based organizations and health services agencies in Detroit. Poverty Solutions and the Detroit URC are working in partnership to support collaborative research in the State of Michigan that:

  • enhances knowledge of the efficacy of interventions, programs, and policies for preventing and alleviating poverty;
  • equitably involves community and academic partners in all aspects of the research process;
  • recognizes the strengths that each brings to the partnership;
  • promotes co-earning and capacity building of all partners; and
  • benefits community and academic partners.

Projects can support activities designed to prevent and alleviate poverty such as:

  • an evaluation of an existing intervention, program or policy;
  • an analysis of new or existing data to better understand the effectiveness of, or to strengthen, strategies (e.g., interventions, programs and policies);
  • the development, implementation and preliminary evaluation of a new pilot program or an adaptation of an existing program; and
  • an assessment of community needs, strengths, and resources that leads to the identification of new strategies.

Selection Criteria

Applications were 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 included:

  • the degree to which the study builds knowledge that informs the understanding of interventions, programs, or policies that seek to prevent or alleviate poverty;
  • the quality of the research design, including appropriate research methodologies;
  • the feasibility of the proposed study to be completed during the funding period;
  • relevance of the project to the local community; and
  • extent and feasibility of community and academic partner involvement.

Additional Criteria:

While not a requirement, preference was given to applications that met the above criteria and one or two additional criteria:

  • incorporation of U-M students into the project; and/or
  • inclusion of multi-campus research teams.

This funding opportunity is now closed. Please contact for questions.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please send an email to Detroit URC Center Manager, Mary Beth Damm at Sign up for the Detroit URC newsletter for updates.

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