A vote for a children’s agenda

It’s hard to fathom that for a city that has undergone such immense change in recent years, more is on the way for Detroiters. This fall, residents will elect a new mayor, as well as a new city council, which for the first time, will be elected by district. That’s a lot of change in one Election Day.

Even with much of city hall currently under the control of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, I believe these elections represent a crucial moment for Detroiters, a moment I hope is used to significantly improve the lives of Detroit children.

An agenda for Detroit children has taken a back seat with elected officials for too long. Now is the time for ordinary Detroiters to flex their collective muscles, and demand from candidates agendas that put kids first.

Children aren’t voters. They don’t contribute campaign dollars. They don’t have much of a voice. And so, they get ignored. But adults who care – parents, neighborhood activists, relatives, youth workers, teachers, church members – must take a stand for the city’s children.

As you know, we’ve recently launched a new strategic vision for our work on behalf of Detroit kids. It is focused on moving the needle on meaningful high school graduation rates, so kids are prepared for college, careers and life. Getting to that point requires many forces aligning. We have identified six investment areas – schools, community leadership, safety, youth development, neighborhoods and social innovation – that each plays an important role in getting to our graduation-rate goal.

The investment areas are important to us because we know each of them can be life changers for children, and significantly improve the quality of life for the majority of Detroiters.

Now is not the time for business as usual. My hope is that all who seek public office in Detroit this fall will be upfront and sincere about where they stand on issues that matter for kids. Detroiters need to know that.

My other hope is that the ordinary Detroiters we have worked so closely with over the years will get active, get educated and contribute to the democratic process. We want people to get educated, ask tough questions and hold candidates accountable.

Our mantra at The Skillman Foundation has been: Kids Matter Here. Now is the time for kids to matter at city hall, too.

Tonya Allen will assume CEO duties at The Skillman Foundation on July1. She will become the Foundation’s sixth president & CEO on Jan. 1, 2014. Follow her on Twitter, @allen_tonya.


An awesome charge!
You have given an awesome charge to the City of Detroit and I pray that everyone heeds your call.
Every city needs a bold and powerful leader, like you, to stand at the
forefront and challenge us-the adults-to stand up for the sake of the children.
I'm excited to see the impact of your leadership.
Keep blogging!
God bless,

Kelley D. Gulley
5/24/2013 at 7:52 pm