We tackle critical challenges that support the people of Detroit and its surrounding communities.

Detroit: an iconic American city where many of our alumni, students, faculty, and staff live, access rich cultural and civic activities, and work toward the public good.

The systemic challenges facing primarily Black and brown neighborhoods—health and economic inequalities, not enough jobs, and unsafe infrastructure— are well-documented. Less well-known is the resiliency of the people who have formed block clubs, neighborhood associations, community gardens, and more. Long-term residents of Detroit have defied their circumstances and forced real, grassroots change for their city.

Well-trained, collaborative policymakers are vital to supporting changes that build on Detroit’s proud history, and create a more just, inclusive future.

Driven by our values of community, respect, and inclusion, our work in Detroit is place-based, relevant, and collaborative. We partner with city and county agencies, philanthropic organizations, businesses, neighborhood groups, and nonprofits. We conduct rigorous research and engage with the people from around the city.

Our research centers, faculty, and staff carefully build partnerships based on mutual respect and reciprocal learning with policy communities. Through these partnerships, we cultivate a range of ever-growing opportunities — coursework, internships, consulting, and research — so Ford School students at all levels are involved in public policy and social justice efforts that are helping transform the Motor City.


Student experience

Ford School students assist small business owners with re-opening challenges during pandemic

Thirty-three students work on understanding and addressing the needs and concerns of specific industries in Detroit, and developing tools tailored to those industries for all Michigan business owners to use.
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Engaging community

Detroit youth take on robotics challenges

Ford School professor Elisabeth Gerber led an online policy simulation in which the students role-played as members of the Detroit City Council to consider the adoption of an autonomous vehicle “robotaxi” service.
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Research insights

Driving Michigan's auto insurance reform

Poverty Solutions used community input in Detroit to direct research that changed state law.
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Alumni impact

Ammara Ansari (MPP ‘19) serves Detroit youth through evaluation

Ansari is an Evaluation, Learning and Impact Fellow with The Skillman Foundation and Council of Michigan Foundations. She is part of a team that is grappling with how to improve the out-of-school youth programming in the city of Detroit.
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New initiatives

Weill gift supports education and employment initiatives

The gift establishes the Weill Youth Empowerment Fund, which will improve education and employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth from the Detroit area.
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Research insights

Seefeldt's book examines upward mobility

Through in-depth interviews with women in Detroit, Seefeldt finds increasing social isolation of low-income workers, analyzes economic and residential segregation, and examines sweeping policy measures.
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