David Bohnett Public Service Fellowship strengthens ties between Ford School, City of Detroit

September 17, 2010

The City of Detroit offers a great opportunity to emerging policy leaders eager to revitalize the Motor City. Now the Ford School has more students who will help make it happen.

Julie Schneider and Elizabeth Palazzola are the inaugural recipients of the David Bohnett Public Service Fellowship, which will provide two years of tuition support and a summer internship in the Detroit mayor's office.

The fellowship, made possible by a generous gift from the David Bohnett Foundation, will be offered to two students per year for the next two incoming MPP classes as well. The program is the first of its kind in the
Midwest, joining David Bohnett Public Service Fellowships at New York University and UCLA.

"We are excited about our partnership with the Ford School at the U-M, to help provide much needed human capital to address our urban challenges," said Foundation Chair David Bohnett (MBA '80). "The students who participate in these programs have the opportunity to improve local communities and learn from significant assignments in the public sector."

Working in Detroit is nothing new for Schneider, who is the head softball coach at Cass Technical High School and has worked with Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership on Detroit's east side, as well as in donor relations with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

"Though I did not grow up in Detroit, I have had an affection for the city since I was a child," said Schneider, a Michigan State graduate who is pursuing a dual master's through the Ford School and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. "As an adult who now lives and works in the city, I am continually inspired by its charm, challenges, and resiliency."

Palazzola (BS '07) moved to Detroit after graduating from U-M's Program in the Environment. Prior to pursuing her MPP at the Ford School she was a research technician at Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies.

"I was immediately drawn to the fellowship because of the stated focus on public service, local government, and social activism, especially as they pertain to Detroit," Palazzola said. "As a three-year Detroit resident, I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated learning about and engaging in the city. I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue this process by working in the Detroit mayor's office, and for the support given to our community by the Bohnett Foundation."

Bohnett, a Los Angeles-based philanthropist and technology entrepreneur, established the foundation to provide funding, technology and other resources to organizations that promote social activism in causes ranging from handgun control to voter education.

Ford School students have interned in the Detroit mayor's office often over the past several decades, including internships funded by the Ford Motor Company Fund between 1994 and 2005. The Bohnett Fellowship solidifies the Ford School's commitment to the City and adds critical tuition support for the students, enabling the School to attract top graduate students who have a deep interest in urban policy and in the revitalization of the City of Detroit.