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University Prep Schools Partners with Detroit Yacht Club to Launch First-ever Sailing Program

University Prep Schools, one of Detroit’s longest-standing charter school systems, today announced an all-new sailing program in partnership with the Detroit Yacht Club. Continuing its commitment to access, opportunity and experience, U Prep Schools will offer the four-week class to 25 of its University Prep Science & Math (UPSM) middle and high school students this summer. Given its STEAM curriculum, the school system will pilot the program within the UPSM district, as an extracurricular supplement to the students’ science and engineering coursework. The program, which was made possible by an initial anonymous donation of $100,000, is slated to run from July 7 to August 1.
“We are really looking to change the game when it comes to urban education in Detroit; not only in the classroom, but beyond,” said Mark Ornstein, CEO of University Prep Schools, which oversees operations at UPSM and its sister district, University Prep Academy. “University Prep Schools’ students deserve every advantage and opportunity afforded students with significantly more resources. With the help of the community and that of the Detroit Yacht Club, we’re leveling the playing field with this program.”
The first partnership of its kind, University Prep Schools and the Detroit Yacht Club will launch the program in conjunction with the club’s prestigious Junior Sailing Program. UPSM students will learn the basics of the sport from some of the club’s most noted instructors and returning sailing program alumni. Students were required to apply to participate in UPSM’s inaugural sailing club and were selected based on both academic performance and essay compilation. University Prep Schools received more than 30 applications from across its STEAM district and culled the applications down to the allotted 25 seats.
“We could not be more thrilled to be able to offer this program in partnership with University Prep Schools,” said Commodore Frederick Carr of the Detroit Yacht Club. “As one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious boating clubs, we have always offered our members a robust sailing program. To be able to share that opportunity with students who have a demonstrated interest in the sport and help further their learning in a meaningful way, is truly awesome.” Carr, once an educator himself, went on to note the importance of the science behind sailing and how he believes the sport can add practical, real-life value to learning beyond the classroom. 
The collaboration with Detroit Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing Program will afford UPSM students the opportunity to participate for at least the next five summers. While the anonymous donation will help to fund the startup costs associated with the program, the school system is still in need of donations to not only cover the costs associated with equipment, life jackets and materials for the students, but to ensure the longevity of the partnership.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to the Detroit Yacht Club and our generous donor for making this program a reality,” said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, Chief External Relations Officer at University Prep Schools. “When people realize the importance of education and how much the little things can change a child’s life, everyone benefits. Sailing is a fun way to infuse rigorous STEM content into an extracurricular activity and demonstrate a practical application of math and science. Such real world connections make learning more powerful, improve retention and stimulate a student's desire to learn more."
University Prep Schools has long been working to build its athletic offering for UPSM students. Its liberal arts-focused district, University Prep Academy (UPA) has established more competitive traditional sports teams for both male and female students. While UPSM has seen successes with its high school football team, the district is actively building more non-traditional sports programs. The sailing program is just one of the “college prep” sports that school leadership will add to its roster in the next academic year. Prior to building out the inaugural sailing club, University Prep Schools facilitated an exploratory stage to gauge parent support. UPSM parents were surveyed over the course of a month, and were largely supportive of the initiative. Results of the survey, however, indicated a few barriers to participating in the program including the ability to swim and transportation to and from the island. As a result, the school has engaged key community partners such as Safeway, which will provide transportation to and from the sailing class for participating UPSM students for the duration of the program. The Boll Family YMCA has also agreed to provide swim classes at minimal to no cost for the students accepted into the program. University Prep Schools and the Detroit Yacht Club will continue to seek support from the community to ensure the program’s continued growth.
To make a donation to the University Prep Schools sailing program, please visit the school’s recently launched Indiegogo page. For additional information about how to support the program, visit uprepschools.com/get-involved.
About University Prep Schools

Known as one of Detroit's longest-standing charter school systems,University Prep Schools (U Prep Schools) launched in 2000, with the opening of its first tuition-free public charter, University Prep Academy High School. Today, the University Prep Schools network is comprised of two districts, University Prep Academy (UPA) and University Prep Science & Math (UPSM), and seven campuses. Serving more than 3,000 students, the University Prep Schools system prepares students for the world around them through a unique combination of individualized and expeditionary learning models that extends education beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. The schools foster a holistic approach to learning that is rooted in providing its students access, opportunity and success. Follow University Prep Schools on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UniversityPrepSchools and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UPrepSchools. For more information about University Prep schools, visit www.uprepschools.com.
About Detroit Yacht Club (DYC)
The Historic Detroit Yacht Club, founded in 1868, is one of the oldest private boating and social clubs in North America.  Dedicated to providing a variety of outstanding dining, social, recreational, and boating programs for members, families and guests, the DYC offers a wide range of elegant and casual dining options, full catering and event services, and various leisure, health and fitness and social amenities.  The club’s harbor facilities and service have been voted the ‘Best in Detroit’ and rank among the finest on the Great Lakes.  
Designed by noted architect George Mason and completed in 1922, the DYC clubhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and stands as one of the Midwest’s finest examples of Mediterranean Revival architecture. The clubhouse ranks as the largest yacht club structure in the United States and, presiding over the Detroit River just off of Belle Isle, is one of Detroit’s most distinguished buildings. 
For more information about the DYC, please call 313-824-1200 or visit www.dyc.com

Sandbox Party Joins with Michigan's Children and Focuses on Making Children's Issues Top Priorities

With a critical Michigan election season upon us, the Michigan Sandbox Party has joined forces with Michigan’s Children to raise awareness and make children and family issues top priorities in state political campaigns.
Michigan’s Children is the only statewide, multi-issue advocacy organization focused solely on public policy in the best interest of children, from cradle to career, and their families.  
Founded in 2010 as the action arm of Michigan’s early childhood community, the Sandbox Party – which will now become a project of Michigan’s Children – has expanded its advocacy to children of all ages with early childhood issues remaining an important focus.  The Sandbox Party has also redesigned its outreach and website at www.michigansandboxparty.org to an election-year focus in order to help generate excitement around children’s concerns and drive turnout in the upcoming primaries.
“Together, we are creating a powerful network to mobilize greater numbers of  constituents around the 2014 races and help educate voters about what’s at stake for children and families,” said Matt Gillard, President & CEO of Michigan’s Children.  This election year holds races for top jobs in Lansing and Washington D.C., including the Governor’s office, every House and Senate district in Michigan, U.S. Congressional and a pivotal U.S. Senate seat.
“Our goal is to engage more Michiganians, encourage them to learn about the candidates in their communities, get involved in the election process, and speak up for children’s issues, Gillard said.
“The Sandbox Party will add strength to Michigan’s Children’s already existing network of localized partners connected to programs that serve the state’s most challenged children and families – the same children and families impacted by the policy decisions made in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.,” he said.  “This expanded network of advocates throughout the state can fight for the best interests of children and hold candidates accountable for campaign promises made long after November. And that’s something we all believe is needed now more than ever.”
With its new election-focus, the Sandbox Party will first promote awareness around the August 5 primary.  Gillard said voting in primaries is notoriously low, often as low as 10 percent of registered voters, though in many districts primary elections will determine who is ultimately elected into public office.  To counter that, Gillard said it is important that voters understand where these primary candidates stand on issues that matter most to children and families. 
The new website will be an easy-to-use tool for individuals to understand the issues at play, the candidates, and how to get involved. Besides offering profiles of candidates and races, visitors to the redesigned michigansandboxparty.org website will be able to look up candidates running for office in their communities, a calendar of appearances by statewide and local candidates in their area, and a variety of other election-related news and information.
After the elections, the Sandbox Party website will transition to an outreach and engagement tool for Michigan’s Children’s networks to stay involved in public policy work by holding their elected officials accountable.

Reducing infant mortality goal of city initiative


A three-year project to reduce infant mortality launched Wednesday in Detroit, where more babies die before their first birthday than in any of the nation’s largest cities.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided funding for creation of the Detroit Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes. The initiative is led by CityMatCH, a national organization of urban maternal/child health leaders. Local health and community leaders will form the Detroit Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes with guidance from CityMatCH.

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$1.3M to help metro Detroit families with employment, debt


Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corp. and United Way for Southeastern Michigan announced that they have funded $1.3 million to eight sites within the Greater Detroit Centers for Working Families network that provide services to families facing unemployment or low incomes.

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YOUTH VOICE members leave Harriet Tubman Center after 80-mile walk for education to start YouthVoice

The youth members who were involved with the program YOUTH VOICE, a project of the Harriet Tubman Center, have started a new organization. Over 30 youth, with the support of adults, created YouthVoice AdultAllies (YVAA), an organization for young people fighting for educational justice and supported by adult allies. The organization will be a first of its kind with an infrastructure where only youth are paid staff in the organization.

“Now that we have our own organization,” said Trevon Stapleton, junior at Cody High School, recent President of YOUTH VOICE and a founder of YVAA. “we have 100% control over what we do and the ability to partner with all organizations we want. I think we are at our greatest potential because we decide how we address the School to Prison Pipeline and luckily we have adults supporting us.”

The founding members of YouthVoice AdultAllies recently organized and participated in an 80-mile walk from Detroit to Lansing to advocate for a modification of zero tolerance policies and alternatives to suspensions. Members in YVAA received national attention and through a partnership with the Director for the Department of Human Services Maura Corrigan and the Michigan Board of Education, YVAA leadership believes legislation will be introduced to modify zero tolerance and stop suspensions for minor offenses like truancy in the upcoming months.

Kyle Guerrant from The Michigan Department of Education says an over-reliance to suspend and expel students for non-violent behavior creates significant barriers to learning, and increases the likelihood of academic failure, and students dropping out of the educational system all together.

“The youth in YVAA have support from many community allies and we know legislation will be introduced soon so our plan is to continue working with Michigan leaders to ensure we reserve the 180-day expulsion for only the most serious offenses, support schools to create alternatives to suspensions like restorative practices, and stop suspensions for truancy and uniform violations,” says Kayla Mason, YVAA adult member.

To learn about upcoming meetings and how you can get involved, visit Facebook.com/YVxAA.

YouthVoice AdultAllies is an organization for young people fighting for educational justice and supported by adult allies. Visit www.YouthVoiceAdultAllies.org for more information. 

GreatSchoolsDetroit.org serves as a resource to help Detroit parents make school choices

Navigating the education landscape in Detroit is a complex endeavor as parents and caregivers have hundreds of school options to consider in trying to find the best fit for their child’s education needs. GreatSchoolsDetroit.org, produced by Excellent Schools Detroit in partnership with GreatSchools, gives Detroit families the tools they need to make a quality school choice.
GreatSchools is the leading national source of school performance information for parents, reaching 52 million unique visitors and 50 percent of American families with children.
“The GreatSchoolsDetroit.org website is a collaboration of Excellent Schools Detroit’s localized Scorecard data and GreatSchools national ratings,” said Dan Varner, chief executive officer, Excellent Schools Detroit. “Not only will parents have the apples-to-apples comparison across a multitude of measures in our Scorecard, but they’ll also see how the local schools rate on a national scale through GreatSchools’ score.”
When visiting GreatSchoolsDetroit.org, users can view in-depth school profiles, read and write reviews of schools, compare schools across a multitude of measures and criteria and find schools near their community. The innovative site contains data from hundreds of Detroit schools, ranging from early childhood learning centers to public, charter, and private elementary and high schools.
“Excellent Schools Detroit’s in-depth knowledge of and data on Detroit education environments and their deep connections with schools, community groups and parent organizations provides the localized insights that parents need,” said Bill Jackson, chief executive officer, GreatSchools. “Excellent Schools Detroit is the ideal partner for GreatSchools, because both organizations are committed to bringing parents the robust information they need to make great school choices.”
GreatSchoolsDetroit.org is designed as a mobile-friendly site, for easy access from smartphones and tablets as well as computers.
Excellent Schools Detroit re-launched its Scorecard in August 2013 with in-depth, side-by-side comparison of Detroit schools along a multitude of measures, including academic performance, academic progress and school climate. The organization recommends parents and students select schools graded C+ or better because these schools will generally prepare students for success in college, career and community.
In 2013, GreatSchools began building partnerships with local community organizations and city groups to bring the best school information and tools to families. These partnerships combine the local knowledge and relationships of community partners with the national media and technology platform of GreatSchools. GreatSchools Detroit is the first new partnership to launch. 
About Excellent Schools Detroit
Excellent Schools Detroit was formed in 2010 by a coalition of philanthropic, education, community and civic leaders with an important mission: an excellent education for every Detroit child, from cradle to career, by 2020. To that end, Excellent Schools Detroit produces an annual Scorecard, which grades schools across a multitude of excellence measures, to help Detroit parents and community make an informed school choice. The organization convenes individuals and organizations across multiple sectors as the Detroit community collectively works to achieve excellence in education.
About GreatSchools
Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonpartisan nonprofit that helps millions of parents find great schools, support great learning, and guide their kids to great futures. The Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, is the nation’s leading guide to preK-12 schools, with profiles of about 200,000 public, public charter, and private schools and more than one million ratings and reviews by parents, teachers, and students. In addition, GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos, and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Last year, GreatSchools had 52 million unique visitors, including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools has local programs and offices in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Washington, DC.

Infant mortality rate in Detroit rivals areas of Third World


Prematurity, whose deadly side effects include brain hemorrhages, collapsed lungs and failing organs, is the leading killer of Detroit’s babies. It’s the major component of infant mortality — a catch-all term comprising all conditions that claim children before their first birthday.

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The Boggs School in Sounds and Pictures


Christopher Gaston is usually the first kid to arrive at school every morning.  And he’s almost always the last one to leave at night. 

In fact, “It’s tough to get Christopher to leave the building everyday,” says Marisol Teachworth, the Boggs School’s program director and co-founder.

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'A clean, well-lighted place' for Detroit kids to go after school


I don't know about you, but when I was in school, hearing the school bell ring at the end of the day meant one thing: freedom! Time to go home, get a snack, and hang out with friends.

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40-year shadow cast by Detroit's failed busing plan


Next week marks the 40th anniversary of the day the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about busing and segregation in Detroit’s schools. The case eventually became Milliken v. Bradley, a seminal civil rights case that nevertheless few people outside legal circles remember.

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Youth Seeking Safe Places Can Get Support Through New Website

Runaway and street-active youth looking for safe places for food, shelter and support are now able to find this information in one place: www.rhyregionalalliance.org. The new website is sponsored by the Runaway & Homeless Youth Regional Alliance (RHY) and highlights services offered by four agencies in southeast Michigan, including Alternatives for Girls, Common Ground, Ruth Ellis Center and Starfish Family Services.
The statistics surrounding runaway and homeless youth are staggering. Nationally, between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year. In 2012, 25 percent of children in Michigan lived below the federal poverty level. In Detroit alone, it is estimated that up to 1,000 homeless LGBTQ youth are on the streets each night.
“The RHY Regional Alliance was formed so we are better able to assist youth who feel they have no where else to turn. The website details where they can go for help whether in a crisis situation or not,” said Michele Legleitner, program director, RHY Regional Alliance and executive director, Alternatives for Girls. “Our ultimate goal is to eliminate homelessness among those 18 and under.”
“This new website is designed to be mobile-friendly and works on a smartphone the same way it does on a desktop, because we know mobile is the primary way youth will access it,” Legleitner said.
Launched November 1 in conjunction with National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, the website details services offered by each of the four agencies along with maps and contact information. The agencies assist youth with a variety of services, including short- and long-term housing, counseling, peer groups, educational assistance, job training and more.
For more information, visit www.rhyregionalalliance.org or email [email protected]
About the Runaway & Homeless Youth Regional Alliance
Runaway & Homeless Youth Regional Alliance is a collaborative effort of four non-profit agencies in southeast Michigan:  Alternatives for Girls, Common Ground, Ruth Ellis Center and Starfish Family Services. The RHY Regional Alliance is dedicated to providing safe places where youth can get food, shelter and short- and long-term support to help them become self-sufficient and live independently. The Alliance is funded by United Way of Southeast Michigan. For more information, visit www.rhyregionalalliance.org.

Reviving Detroit: 4 Arenas Where Nonprofits Can Act to Design a New Future


The classic action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop was showing on TV this past week. In it, Eddie Murphy plays a Detroit police detective who follows a murder suspect to the West Coast. The opening 10 or 15 minutes includes a chase scene through Detroit. The city is full of vacant buildings and land—and the 1984 film showed a better-looking Detroit than you’ll find today. Axel Foley’s Detroit declared bankruptcy late last week—the largest city ever to do so—ending a fall decades in the making.

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How Are The Children? A Dialogue for Families

There are more than 487,000 children under the age of 18 currently living in Wayne County. More than half of these children live in families with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level. This is one of many startling statistics that Great Start Collaborative shared with the public in their April 2013 children’s wellbeing report titled, “How Are the Children.”

The reality is clear, that children living within Wayne county and the entire state of Michigan, need the support of community organizations, their own families, educational & political systems, and advocacy organizations and community members alike, if they are to overcome the challenges that accompany poverty.

To this end, The Children’s Center, Wayne County Great Start Collaborative, Michigan’s Children, and the Michigan League for Public Policy are coming together to facilitate a community discussion entitled, “How are the Children:” A Dialogue for Families. In addition to hearing from four Child Policy experts, participants will be encouraged to voice their concerns regarding collaborative solutions to addressing the many issues that accompany poverty, children experiencing trauma and behavioral health challenges, disparities in healthcare, education, and other concerns.

“How Are the Children:” A Dialogue for Families will be held at the Children’s Center Head Start Academy at 19900 Evergreen Rd. in Detroit on October 17th, from 6-7:30 PM. The dialogue will feature the following presenters:
  • Dr. Carolynn Rowland; City of Detroit -- Dept. of Health and Wellness Promotion
  • Renell Weathers; Michigan League for Public Policy -- State Budget Priorities & Children’s Issues
  • Mina Hong; Michigan’s Children -- Engaging in the Elections Process
  • Nicole Wells Stallworth; The Children’s Center -- Engaging Community & Elected Leaders
    toward Making a Difference.
A large part of our mission at The Children's Center is to help families learn how to advocate for themselves. We are excited about this important collaborative work with the Wayne County Great Start Collaborative led by Toni Hartke, The Michigan League for Public Policy, and Michigan’s Children who have been in the trenches of working with communities and families on behalf of what’s in the best interests of children”, explained Debora Matthews, Children's Center CEO.

Parents, families, city residents, senior citizens, educators, and child advocates are encouraged to attend and learn more about how we can collaboratively improve the quality of life for children living within our region. We believe every child should be offered the opportunity to reach their fullest potential”, added Nicole Wells Stallworth, Director of Community Engagement & Government Affairs at The Children’s Center.

For questions, contact Nicole Wells Stallworth at [email protected] OR Susan Hooks-Brown, Wayne County Great Start Collaborative Community Organizer at [email protected]

Join the discussion on Twitter! hashtag #HowAreTheChildren

About The Children’s Center
Founded in 1929 by former Detroit Mayor and United States Senator James Couzens as one of the first child guidance centers in the United States, The Children’s Center has grown to be the Michigan child and family agency offering the largest number of specialized therapy programs for at-risk children and youth.

To learn more about The Children’s Center, visit: www.thechildrenscenter.com.

About Great Start
Great Start Collaborative-Wayne is a non-profit organization comprised of over 60 community organizations and individuals whose vision is A Great Start for Every Child in Wayne County, safe, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and life.

Their mission is to engage the entire community to assure a coordinated system of services and resources are available to assist Wayne County families in providing a great start for their children from prenatal to age 8. 
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