Seed Grant Awardees
Since the inception of the seed grant program, OMI has awarded over $113,000 in Community-Based Research funds. The awardees are shown below.
Property Praxis is web mapping and visualization tool for community organizations, community residents, and housing advocates working on issues of housing stability in Detroit.
This funding will support a computer science graduate student who is tying together property records regarding ownership, blight, rental registration, eviction, etc. Focusing on building a database on multi-unit apartment buildings, this will be especially useful given this is where many of the evictions are expected to be centered in January 2021. The student will also work to activate the Property Praxis data by adding other municipal data sets. This work acts as data support for community partners such as Detroit Eviction Defense, Detroit Renter City, and Detroit Will Breathe.
Located in Detroit’s Greater Eastern Market neighborhood, CAN Art Handworks Inc. (CAH) has worked for decades to address post-industrial issues through local employment and artistic and community projects such as the Detroit Windmill Project and the Sky Garden, both constructed from upcycled materials. The Sky Garden has been used in recent years as a four-story vertical garden, as a venue for community education hosting school field trips and public open houses, and as a testing and research station for weather, wind turbine, and microgrid datalogging with UM-Dearborn researchers. Solar and wind energy sources attached to the Sky Garden are intended to power its lights and outlets as a green energy microgrid with battery backup, but an inverter needs to be installed to complete the microgrid. CAH seeks to improve the Sky Garden and to replicate its community learning concept at other public spaces in Detroit such as schools and parks. Additionally, the recent COVID-19-induced social distancing highlights the importance of creating remote, virtual experiences of community learning spaces such as the Sky Garden and the potential for using these virtual experiences in K-12 remote learning during emergencies. The project goals are to 1) complete the Sky Garden as a physical and virtual community learning site, 2) provide documentation and analyses that will help CAH advance its goal of replicating the Sky Garden model in the Detroit community, 3) provide a community-based learning experience to three UM-Dearborn students, and 4) strengthen the collaboration between UM-Dearborn and CAH for future community learning, artistic, and research work. Over eight months, the students will complete the identified work packages that assist CAH in the development of the Sky Garden. At the project’s completion, CAH will host an open house for UM students and faculty at the Sky Garden. This seed grant will support one year of involvement of UM-Dearborn students in improving the existing Sky Garden and providing analysis and documentation to support the replication of the Sky Garden concept in Detroit. Improvements will be made to the Sky Garden’s electrical system, web presence, and signage. This project improves a community learning site focused on local solutions to issues facing Detroit communities. This project’s advancement of the Detroit Windmill Project also offers a pathway for addressing multiple issues facing Detroit communities: from energy costs and energy reliability to environmental burdens and unemployment.
The aims of this project are twofold: 1) To document major threats to environmental justice and community response in Metro Detroit in a short film, and 2) To enhance high impact practices for students in University of Michigan-Dearborn’s HHS 250: Introduction to Environmental Health with the development of this film and a corresponding study guide. Southwest Detroit, Southeast Dearborn, River Rouge, and nearby communities in Metro Detroit experience higher rates of cumulative impacts from chemical and non-chemical stressors. Residents in this area live within a few miles of a Cleveland Cliffs and US Steel’s mills, EES Coke LLC’s coke (a derivative of coal processing) storage facility, Delray Connecting Railway's railroad, Marathon Petroleum Facility, a DTE coal-fired power plant, and the Great Lakes Water Authority’s wastewater treatment facility, which serves 3 million Michigan residents, among other industrial sites. A transportation network accompanies this industry. Pollution Has No Boundaries will document these realities in the context of four case studies as briefly shared by local leaders related to the Marathon Oil Refinery, Gordie Howe International Bridge, AK Steel, and DTE coal plants. This project will result in two tangible products: a 12-15-minute video and a corresponding discussion guide. Additionally, environmental justice leaders could share Pollution Has No Boundaries with diverse audiences, including funders, elected officials, students, and the general public, as a tool for education, fundraising, or advocacy.
Property Praxis is web mapping and visualization tool for community organizations, community residents, and housing advocates working on issues of housing stability in Detroit.
This funding is for the expansion of our geospatial analysis tool tracking property speculation in Detroit. This funding will allow us to bring the project fully up-to-date and develop automation practices that will make this work more efficient. It will help complete the work on the 2018 data set and the 2019 data for the city. Over the past two years, this project has experienced both increased demand and attention while also addressing software and technology issues that required migrating to different platforms and identifying new platforms. These challenges make clear the need to develop robust systems within the university that will both stabilize the platform and allow us to provide up-to-date data to our community partners.
The research and development of the project has relied on the efforts of UM-Dearborn students and community members. This funding will allow for the dedication of students from the UM-Dearborn Social Science Research Lab to the project and to begin training new students to take on the work of those that are graduating.
High concentrations of lead found in the soil of southwest Detroit pose a significant public health risk to residents. This risk rises in significance for young children (2-6 years of age), the elderly, and to residents with respiratory illnesses in the Delray community. Recent laboratory-based research at UM-Dearborn has evaluated several soil additions that could potentially reduce the ability of lead to leach into the soil, thereby reducing its ability to reach people, particularly young children. One of these additions was applied to a property along Melville street with lead concentrations in excess of 400mg/Kg. During a three month period from early October through December 2018, soil lead bioaccessibility was reduced by 80%. The goal of this project is to expand this effort throughout the Delray community with the assistance of the community partner.
The goal of this research project is to collect data in order to develop and implement culturally responsive, effective, and sustainable health improvement interventions that promote health equity in south and east Dearborn, a community with heightened health disparities. In collaboration with the Healthy Dearborn Research Team, a part of the Healthy Dearborn Coalition, a community coalition of over 400 community members that promotes health and wellness in Dearborn, and ACCESS, the largest social services agency serving Arab populations in the country, we will conduct focus groups with as many as 150 residents of Dearborn to address health disparities in our community.
Southwest Detroit is one of the most polluted zip codes in the state. Air quality is an issue with both diesel idling at the international bridge crossing and emissions from heavy industrial sectors south of this area. High rates of asthma are one outcome of these conditions. This project addresses this environmental justice issue by providing real time air quality information to community members to build awareness of the issue and to generate the data necessary to encourage greater action by elected officials and policymakers. Grace in Action Collective/Radical Productions and the UM-Dearborn Urban Praxis Workshop will create a real time map for community members to access via their phones or home computer. The map will present data gathered from 10 DIY air sensors that Grace in Action and southwest high school students will be building this summer. This project leverages two ongoing initiatives in the community. One is a wireless mesh network that allows residents in this community free internet access. The other is an app built by high school students working with Grace in Action that allows residents to report air quality issues generated by truck idling. The Urban Praxis workshop intends to build the architecture for air quality data gathered by DIY sensors to be recorded for analysis and rendered in real time on an air quality map. Grace in Action intends to use the long term data to continue its partnerships with legislators and city councilors in Detroit. The real time map will be used to build community awareness of the issue, public health information, and organizing strategies.
On August 11, 2014, Metro Detroit experienced record-breaking rainfall—more than 6” in 4 hours—which resulted in a federal disaster declaration and 1000’s of household claims to FEMA for recovery funds. In addition to this extreme event, however, recurrent household flooding is an underreported phenomenon that is particularly overlooked in non-coastal cities and may worsen with climate change. Thanks to previous support from ORSP, we conducted 20 qualitative in-depth interviews with residents experiencing repeated basement flooding throughout Detroit. We worked with community leaders to recruit residents that had severe household flooding during the 2014 event and in other instances since. We conducted thematic analyses in which two researchers coded each transcript. We found that snowball sampling yielded interviewees across the city in several neighborhoods not deemed high risk for flood events. Residents’ reported concerns related to chronic and infectious diseases, particularly for seniors and young children, as well as the long-term stress of repeated economic loss. Our results suggest ways for public health, emergency preparedness, urban planners and community leaders to work towards prevention (e.g., storm water management through green infrastructure, backflow devices) and adaptation to mitigate further health inequities. We are working with climate change leaders in Detroit to widely share our findings and move toward sustainable solutions. Climate change models project increasing frequency, duration and severity of precipitation events over the next thirty years in the Midwest U.S. Our findings are critical for cities, such as Detroit, as they manage the intersecting issues of climate change, aging infrastructure, and vacant land reuse.
Another key partner is Khalil Ligon, Community Sustainability Planner for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. We are working with Ligon to host a community event to disseminate information and engage community members and climate change leaders on the topic of flooding in Detroit. We anticipate sharing the following with workshop participants: 1) Our research data/results from the qualitative interviews we conducted 2) Things we learned from other communities/scholars while in Portugal 3) The data/analysis of Detroit flooding based on a collaboration with Sam Brody and Flood Forum USA.
This research project will involve avatar and 3D bust creation in social studies and English language arts education at the Douglass Academy for Young Men in Detroit. Avatar technologies are still emerging, and their use in educational settings has not been well studied. In this action-research project, an interdisciplinary team will explore learning in three dimensions. Papers will be published as peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals for educators.
The students will engage in authentic writing assignments related to the technologies. The researchers will address critical research questions: a) Will the creation of avatars increase levels of student engagement?; b) How does three dimensionality enrich the learning experience?; c) How may avatars be used in authentic writing?; and d) How may avatars and 3D busts be used to advance students' understanding of memory and history?
Property in Practice: A Public Portal Mapping Detroit Speculative Ownership and Property Conditions (Renewal Request)
Property Praxis is a counter-speculation tool available to the public as well as community organizations contesting displacement and eviction. The website allows users to see ownership information and historical change in ownership over time in their neighborhood. This renewal will allow the expansion of geospatial analysis tool tracking in Detroit. That includes expansion of historical property data, expansion of the scope of the work and improvement of web architecture, and addition of other cities facing similar challenges.
Whither Arab Americans? Voices from Southeast Michigan (Renewal Request)
This funding will allow for the construction of a documentary based on wide collection of oral histories of Arab Americans. The first-hand narrative will outline prominent features of the Arab American saga in Southeast Michigan based on the recorded interviews. The recordings contain rare accounts from the first U.S.-born Arab Americans obtained by Bawardi over a twenty-five year period.
Bennett Elementary Library Project
Partnering with teachers, students, and staff of Bennett Elementary in Detroit, Michigan, CEHHS, Books for a Benefit, and Southwest Solutions, this project is a collaboration to develop Bennett Elementary's Pre-K-5 Library. This project focuses on high impact practices for student success as books form learning communities’ common intellectual experience. The books will also provide tools for teachers’ implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Once Bennett Elementary’s library is fully functioning, the partners hope to extend the project to other Detroit Public Schools.
Violence Prevention as Community Health Work: Comparing Street Outreach Programs in Two Michigan Cities
This proposal seeks to compare two geographically focused approaches to reduce violence in urban communities using community outreach workers: one based in Detroit, and the other in Ypsilanti, MI. Featuring a diverse group of university, government and community-based collaborators: Paul Draus and Juliette Roddy of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Stephen Wade of the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, Derrick Jackson of Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, and Daryl Harris of CeaseFire Detroit, this proposal has a novel approach to integrating criminal justice and public health approaches to the problem of urban violence.
Mobile Museums and Community-Based History Education
This project explores the role and impact of mobile museums in community-based history education. Students at UM-Dearborn and Frederick Douglass Academy in Detroit will get the chance to explore the Black History 101 Mobile Museum. During this visit, they will get to see the potential of original artifacts to raise historical interest, awareness, and understanding.
This study explores students' perspectives on the types of mentoring, resources, and levels of support they want and need to reach academic and professional goals. The students being studied are currently mentored by BMe Community Leaders and the results will be shared in a public forum. Results will also inform the new Master Degree in Community Based Education (CBE).
A New Detroit: Metropolitan Leaders' Perspectives
This project seeks to assist Southeast Michigan leaders with addressing the question: What can be done to reduce regional educational and economic inequities? Despite the number of leadership development programs in the region that aim to empower future leaders with the skills necessary to manage the fiscal operations, few focus on developing approaches for addressing regional inequities in education and economics. This study looks at diverse perspectives of a group of leaders who received training in regional cultural competency and provides insight into ways in which to build a more educational and economically just community.
College Campuses Unite to Address Food Insecurity Among Students
This study researches the emerging trend of campus food pantries. It supports bringing together campus food pantry organizers for a one-day event that is focused on addressing food insecurity among students. This event will served several purposes:
1. To share current research findings with campus pantry organizers, who are in the best position to benefit from this work.
2. Campus pantry organizers will have a unique opportunity to meet each other and network.
3. Campus pantry organizers will have an opportunity to further participate in this research through concept mapping and survey participation.
A Public Portal Mapping Detroit Speculative Ownership and Property Conditions
This community-based project illustrates the effects of widespread property speculation on neighborhoods and communities utilizing public data and publicly accessible big data. Utilizing web-based geospatial technology, this project will map both private speculation and public landholding. It creates a unique application for public use that combines the visuals of Google Street View with public Assessment data and tax foreclosure sales data. The merging of this data in map form will allow a broad array of users to easily access public data and the history of speculation in Detroit. The application is entirely open source and may serve as a resource to academics, policy practitioners, community organizations and activists working on issues of urban blight, vacancy, and abandonment.
Science in Community
This project expands upon Dr. Burke’s 2014 grant by expanding the collaboration to include the Alliance for the Great Lakes. It develops a curriculum model that engages educators, students, and community members in environmental education and community action projects that address urban water issues. Dr. Burke and Dr. Sampson will partner with representatives of the Alliance for the Great Lakes and Neinas Elementary School to develop, implement and evaluate the impact of community action projects on both the students and the community.
Green Infrastructure and Social Equity: Examining Community Engagement Related to Place Making and Environmental Remediation Projects in Southwest Detroit
This project features a unique partnership called the Fort-Rouge Gateway (FRoG), which promotes both green infrastructure and place making projects in the Lower Rouge River area with the long-term goal of improving local quality of life. The funds from this grant will enable UM-Dearborn faculty and students to employ ethnographic and survey methodology along with ongoing community engagement campaigns being undertaken by the Greening of Detroit and the Sierra Club, two key members of FRoG. The analysis of this original research data will provide crucial feedback on the implementation of these projects, on their real and perceived impacts.
Detroit Prisoner Re-Entry
In this project, Dr. Juliette Roddy and Dr. Paul Draus will investigate the re-entry experience of both older and younger ex-offenders through diaries that record the re-entry experience. The participants are ex-offenders recently released from the Detroit Detention and Reentry Center and enrolled in Dr. Reuben Miller’s (UM-Ann Arbor) qualitative study of prisoner re-entry in Detroit. Dr. Miller’s efforts examine and compare the strategies 60 recently released male former prisoners (30 that are over 40 and 30 ages 18-39) employ to navigate the barriers they face.
Youth Engagement and Civic Literacy in Wayne, Michigan
This project encourages the civic engagement and civic literacy of youth, primarily middle and high school age, in Wayne, Michigan, by supporting the capacity of the Wayne Main Street nonprofit. This project will support a youth coordinator for Wayne Main Street in order to expand the youth and diversity of their volunteer base. Using the coordinator’s reports, Professor Rusch aims to better understand paths to youth engagement concerning local issues in Southeast Michigan. This understanding will be used for future planning for the Civic Literacy project.
This project will assist the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition’s policy advocacy efforts through collaborating to conduct a community health survey. The survey will provide evidence on geographic patterning of health outcomes experienced by residents. In addition, connections between UM-Dearborn faculty and students will be further established with the Community Benefits Coalition which has the potential for service opportunities across disciplines in the future.
Commemorative Bench Project
This project will be implemented in four social studies classes during the 2015-2016 academic year and will develop students’ research skills and creativity. The students will learn about historic figures and the role of art in the construction of historical narratives. After conducting research on prominent African Americans, the students will design commemorative benches that will transform four plain, concrete benches in the school’s courtyard with mosaics. Following this service-learning project, the students will engage in reflective writing.
Science in Community
This project examines the effects of engaging pre-service teachers in an academic service learning project to aid in developing their own science agency and prepare them to cultivate a sense of science agency in their students. Dr. Burke will teach a 3-week class on site at Neinas Elementary School in Southwest Detroit to connect science to community. The lessons then developed by the pre-service teacher will focus on the installation of a roof top garden at the school.
Restorative Re-Entry in Detroit
This project will lay the groundwork for a program that utilizes restorative practices to be implemented in the Intensive Detention Re-Entry Program (IDROP) within the Detroit Re-Entry Center. The program will target individuals at risk of repeat incarceration and will help identify the best way to connect them to restorative networks within their home communities. The long-term goal is to connect IDROP residents returning to the community with community partner organizations trained in restorative practices, using parole officers trained in restorative practices as coordinators.
Pre-service teachers' enactment of supporting parents' family literacy practices
This project will focus on home-school collaborations with Westwood Community School. Pre-service teachers will acquire and apply a skill set for understanding and valuing non-traditional family literacy practices as resources to build a foundation for developing school literacy practices. This project will examine the pre-service teachers’ practices as they tutor students and their collaborations with parents, particularly through conferences and family literacy workshops.
Pluralism Project: World Religions in Metropolitan Detroit
Originally introduced to the local community through the Alfred Berkowitz Gallery, this project started as a collection of photographs mapping world religions in Metropolitan Detroit. Data based on Metropolitan Detroit community religious sites continues to be collected and is located in the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at The University of Michigan-Dearborn. This expansion of the project will help make this data more accessible to the wider community, especially long-term religious organization community partners.
The Citizens Alliance on Prisons & Public Spending (CAPPS) program conducts economic research regarding the impact of a growing prison population on the Michigan economy. This project will provide support in research, analysis, and community exposure. By engaging with both CAPPS and the incarcerated communities for which it advocates, this project hopes to meaningfully contribute to the research as well as establish connections between UM-Dearborn students and these marginalized groups. The engagement of all three entities will result in increased awareness of criminal justice issues and solutions.
Arab American Marriages and Obtained Relationship Experiences (AAMORE)
This project studies Arab American couples’ relationships and the impact these relationship dynamics have on psychosocial well-being, families, and the community. Studying these dynamics and associated health outcomes may lead to identify pathways to interventions that might benefit the community. This study is aimed at providing foundational information regarding Arab American couples’ relationships, but also validating well-known measures of relationship satisfaction within this group.
LGBTQ Community Centers State-Wide Political Alliance
The Community Center Network of Michigan was formed in response to a vacuum of organization and individual leadership on issues important to the LGBTQ community. This research project will develop specific actionable recommendations for the community partner and opportunities for continued engaged research as well as student intern positions.
This project is developed to create a systematic and representative oral history depository in collaboration with the Arab American National Museum (AANM). The benefits of this project are several, including cementing a permanent mutually beneficial working relationship with the AANM. The key aspect of this project is involving the students and faculty of UM-Dearborn in rendering a long-term service to our extended communities, scholars across the disciplines, and Arab Americans nationally.
This project involves working with the LEAP (Lower Eastside Action Plan) organization to identify sites undergoing measurable landscape change. It will also identify individuals initiating or participating in change activities within the boundaries of the Lower East Side, as well as neighbors and residents affected by these changes.
This project recorded multi-generation oral histories with Muslim families that arrived in the US before WWII and are from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, conducted by students in fulfillment of the requirements for HIST 3634: History of Islam in the US. The interviews were posted online along with supporting documentation from 20 families. Materials will also be placed in 2 local archives. This project redressed the dearth of sources on this population and traced the religious legacy of a multi-generational Muslim American family.
Cyberdad is designed to link our participating older UM-Dearborn students with cyber mentors outside academia. It specifically intends to involve students majoring and minoring in psychology, sociology, and Africana Studies where possible. Each mentor collect data concerning the issues causing their “cyberson” to contact them for advice. In addition, mentors are allowed to utilize this data and their experiences in their own academic pursuits.
This study examines the impact of rapid depopulation on the Oakwood Heights community, located in the far end of Southwest Detroit, as the result of a major buyout of homes by Marathon Petroluem Corporation (MPC). The project will assess the social impact of the buyout using an interdisciplinary approach and both quantitative and qualitative methods to capture the dynamics of the process. This will be accomplished by tracking the buyout's impact on the physical environment, the community as a whole, and individuals and households.
The goal of this project is to develop the local capacity to conduct participatory action research (PAR). PAR is a research method that is gaining in popularity in the social and behavioral sciences. While its primary uses have been in the fields of education and public health, we would like to expand the local use of these methods to the social sciences. This project will convene a series of working meetings with faculty from UM-Dearborn and surrounding academic institutions to evaluate PAR methodology and develop plans to use the method in community-based research.
This project employs an innovative interdisciplinary design for capturing data concerning the lives of those exiting correctional institutions and attempting to reintegrate in the City of Detroit, working with practitioners on the front lines of these issues. The project directly involves the community partner organization, Self Help Addiction Rehabilitation, or SHAR, and ex-offenders themselves, in the interpretation and application of research findings in an interactive group lecture setting. The goal of this study is to develop a mixed-method approach with potential to explore the interaction of individual, contextual and community-level factors associated with long-term recovery and successful social reintegration. The effort also offers a productive collaboration that sheds light on the dynamics and mechanisms of social reintegration while offering research to community practice.
Office of International Affairs/International Services Representative
This project features a learning partnership between UM-Dearborn and the ACCESS Family Literacy Program. In it, we will create new educational pathways into youth and adult literacy education with the goal to provide educational resources and support which only institutions of higher learning can provide. The resources will be tailored to the challenges facing low-income and immigrant communities.