Reaching out: Detroit non-profit, campus center form community-focused partnership

July 25, 2016

Samaritan Center Program Manager Jennifer Teller and Samaritan Center’s Brother Francis pose with children next to the Samaritan Center’s new children’s book vending machine.

As a part of its mission to eliminate disparities and promote equity in education and health, the College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS), through its Center for Disparity Solutions and Equity (CDSE), recently partnered with Samaritan Center.

Located in East Detroit, Samaritan Center is a one-stop resource location that serves more than 1,500 southeastern Michigan residents daily and houses more than 80 community services.

Through the partnership, CDSE evaluated Samaritan Center services with hopes of expanding the service menu, improving their community outreach and highlighting the center as a model for other communities.

The CDSE team met with Samaritan Center leaders in the fall and devised a four-phase model: They observed participants to see how the center serves their population; they led partner-focus groups to learn about perceptions and beliefs of Samaritan Center and the facility’s strength and weaknesses; they conducted a visitor survey to see what services they used while at the Samaritan Center; and they held one-on-one interviews with visitors.

“Twenty percent of the people went to four or more partner organizations. That tells you they are meeting their mission of being a one-stop resource,” said Center for Disparity Solutions and Equity Program Manager Jennifer Teller, who conducted the work with CEHHS Dean Janine Janosky, Associate Dean Laura Reynolds and Public Ally Amanda Ford. “And visitors had thoughtful ideas of what else they’d like to see at the Center and were happy to share them. For example, one young man said the Samaritan Center is a safe place in a challenged neighborhood and suggested a park for children.”

Earlier this month, the team presented their findings to the Samaritan Center. Teller said the partnership was a success and the CDSE will continue to seek out and work with community organizations.

“It was satisfying to see that the Samaritan Center visitors and partners were all on the same page. They were appreciative of our work,” she said. “Research is an important endeavor as many people are out there helping others in need. We worked hard to assist them in fulfilling their mission by determining the impact of the Samaritan Center.”

Samaritan Center Executive Director Mark Owens said, “Samarian Center has been fortunate to find a partner with University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Education, Health, and Human Services to work with us to better serve the thousands of Detroit residents who visit Samaritan Center and 87 partner agencies. The professionalism, the attention to detail and responses to our questions have been excellent and we look forward to a long-term relationship.”

The College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS) formed the Center for Disparity Solutions and Equity in 2015 in order to continue CEHHS’ emphasis on scholarship, diverse health and human services experiences, and effective instructional and leadership practice. The Center for Disparity Solutions and Equity aims to reduce disparities for a movement to equity in education, health, and human services focused upon policies, systems, and environments. To learn more about the Center visit

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