Detroit, bring your ideas for out-of-school programming; up to $1M will be funded

“Many things we need can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow, his name is today.” 

– Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), Chilean poet and educator

Since the Skillman Foundation was formed in 1960, it has served as a voice for Detroit children, using investments and institutional will as a vehicle to effect change in our community. The belief that “Kids Matter Here” echoes throughout the Foundation’s grantmaking strategies of education, safety, community leadership, and youth development.


Youth development is the intentional effort to expand the places, phases, and processes in which students learn. We believe that increasing the quality and availability of positive youth development programs will not only transform the lives of Detroit youth, but will also change community conditions for all who live, work, and learn in Detroit.

Today, I'm thrilled to share that the Foundation is launching an open Request for Qualifications (RFQ) through the Youth Development Fund, which we result in up to $1 million in grants this spring. The goal of the fund is to support agencies and programs that deliver high-quality youth development programs to neighborhood kids, programs that will increase the number of youth who graduate from high school ready for all that comes after. Through our adopted Achieve-Connect-Thrive Framework, we are interested in monitoring and measuring youth impact. We have set an exciting and audacious goal of helping 90 percent of students attending schools in our targeted neighborhoods graduate by 2016-17, and we are looking for partners to join us.

This open RFQ process allows us to hear from the community at-large. We hope to receive innovative applications from agencies who have applied for funding in the past but weren’t successful, current grantees who are proposing new work, previously funded grantees, and potential grantees who have never applied for funding before.

We know that many of the youth who are least involved in out-of-school learning and skill development come from challenging backgrounds. They often live in neighborhoods that lack resources and have parents who work long hours. This must change. The achievement gap that many of our youth face has now turned into an opportunity gap. Without access to high-quality, consistent before-, after-, and summer-school programs, Detroit children run the risk of failing, in school and in life.

We refuse to let that happen. Because kids matter here.

The RFQ is now closed.

David R. McGhee is a program officer who heads the Foundation's youth development strategy. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @davidrmcghee.