In 2013, the Ford Motor Company Fund invested $10 million in Southwest Detroit, transforming the once-vacant Mexicantown Mercado into a thriving resource center. This community-directed project established the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC) as the go-to community destination for individuals and families to learn new skills, obtain services, and develop new talents.

Four years later, when tasked with scouting a new location for a second Detroit area FREC, I saw an opportunity to expand on this successful model by placing our newest resource center in over 10,000 square feet of an operating Detroit Public School on the Eastside of the city. In October, we celebrated the Grand Opening of FREC D2 at Fisher Upper Magnet Academy.

Built for over 1,000 students, Fisher Upper had an enrollment of fewer than 400 when we opened our doors in the fall of 2017. In partnership with Detroit Public School Community District and the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, our goal is to increase enrollment in 2018 and for years to come.

Located in zip code 48205 – the area hardest hit by crime, unemployment, and blight in Detroit – our collective “moon shot” is to attack the issues plaguing area students and families at the root by providing a clear pathway to social and economic mobility.

How Does FREC Provide A Pathway For Upward Mobility?

The neighborhood place-based model allows families to receive program services in three mobility buckets:

  • Basic needs
  • Economic Growth
  • Quality of Life

The Ford Fund covers 100% of the overhead associated with operating the centers and provides dozens of organizations with grants to deliver services in the three mobility buckets.

There are 18 nonprofit service providers at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center.#FRECCity #Detroit

— Ford Fund (@fordfund_) October 6, 2017

At FREC D2 families can stretch their budgets with food from Gleaners Community Food Bank,  have their taxes prepared by Accounting Aid, receive legal services, and participate in job training and entrepreneurial coaching classes. In addition to these practical services, art and dance classes are also offered – housed under one roof, FREE of charge.

When families can connect the services offered at the FREC in a meaningful way, it provides a clear pathway to a better life and an opportunity to break the poverty cycle for their families.


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