Detroit Children’s Fund Inaugural Dinner Raises Over $1.55 Million for Detroit Schools

DETROIT – More than 240 guests were taken back to school when they attended the Detroit Children’s Fund Inaugural Dinner on Saturday, October 14 at The Factory at Corktown in Detroit, MI. The raw venue was transformed with a school theme, complete with notebook-patterned table tops, giant pencils, and a school lunch inspired dinner menu. Thanks to the generous support of sponsors and attendees, the event raised more than $1.55 million. DCF board member Adam Levinson and his wife Brittany generously contributed $775,000 of the total raised in a matching gift challenge. All funds raised will support the Detroit Children’s Fund quality seat campaign to create 25,000 seats for K-12 students in strong Detroit schools by the year 2025.

DCF Inaugural Dinner Chairs Kelle Ilitch, Ashley Crain and Gretchen Davidson

The Inaugural Dinner Event Chairs were Ashley Crain, Gretchen Davidson and Kelle Ilitch. Davidson and Ilitch also serve on DCF’s board of directors alongside Tonya Allen, Pernilla Ammann, Phil Cooley, Tiffany Douglas, Bill Emerson, Carol Goss, Adam Levinson, Ryan Maibach, Jacques Panis, Arn Tellem, Jason Tinsely, and Board Chair KC Crain. 

“I think we can all agree that Detroit is coming back. Our economy is beginning to boom. But how will we ensure our city continues to rebound without ensuring that the next generation is educated and prepared to be tomorrow’s workers and leaders?,” posed KC Crain. “DCF is working to make good schools the norm in Detroit. It’s an imperative mission for our city and I’m proud to be part of it.”

In addition to the funds raised at the Inaugural Dinner, DCF’s Executive Director, Jack Elsey, announced a $2-million grant from General Motors. GM was also a presenting sponsor of the dinner, alongside Tom and Holly Gores.

“I’m grateful for the generosity and commitment of our board and supporters,” said Nick Karmanos, DCF’s chief advancement officer. “People understand the critical need for good schools. Belief that, together, we can make it happen is growing. Parents, educators, community members, stakeholders, and businesses are rallying together like never before.”

“DCF is dedicated to ensuring all Detroit children have access to a quality education,” said Elsey. “We’ll accomplish this by investing in great schools to serve more students and by bringing nationally celebrated schools here to serve children in Detroit. We are also investing in developing teams of current and future school leaders, all of whom will raise the bar for achievement in our city.”

“Detroit Children’s Fund has people at the helm that are as passionate about this cause as they are talented at the work they do,” said Tonya Allen, DCF board member and president & CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “They have the right ideas to create a tipping point, helping strong schools thrive and expand, and signaling to others that, without improvement, they will no longer be able to do business in Detroit.”

Inaugural Dinner Presenting Sponsors were General Motors, and Tom and Holly Gores. Hometown Match Sponsors were Brittany and Adam Levinson. Executive Sponsors were Linda and Ed Levy, Jr. Dinner sponsors included AVL Americas, Barton Malow Company, Crain Communications Inc, Gretchen and Ethan Davidson, The Detroit Pistons, Marlene and Bill Emerson, Gallagher-Kaiser Corporation, Ilitch Holdings, Kojaian, Lear Corporation, Quicken Loans, and Arn and Nancy Tellem. The event’s Media Sponsor was Crain’s Detroit Business.

Media Contact:
Natalie Fotias
(313) 393-1179; nfotias@skillman.org  

Event photos are available on DCF’s Facebook page.

Detroit Children’s Fund selects Jack Elsey as executive director

DETROIT – Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF) announced today the appointment of Jack Elsey as executive director. Elsey brings 13 years of experience in public education to his new role.

“DCF has attracted a strong team to drive its mission of ensuring Detroit children have exceptional learning and development opportunities. We could not be more pleased to have Elsey at the helm,” said KC Crain, DCF board chair and president & COO of Crain Communications Inc. “His conviction that every child deserves a first-rate education and the achievements he’s led toward this vision make him an outstanding fit for the team.”

“Jack has led classrooms, schools and districts to stronger academic results. His proven experience in improving education for children is complemented by a strong intellect, great relationships, an energetic spirit, and an uncompromising commitment to excellence,” said Tonya Allen, Detroit Children’s Fund board member and Skillman Foundation president & CEO.

Elsey began his career as a middle school teacher in the South Bronx as a Teach for America corps member. He went on to hold a leadership positions with several urban schools districts where he focused on school turnaround efforts.

Most recently, Elsey served as the chief schools officer for the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA), a district charged with turning around some of Detroit’s historically lowest performing schools. Under his leadership, EAA schools showed improvements in several areas: student growth results outperformed state averages, suspensions were reduced by 30 percent, and school culture was strengthened through the creation of small learning communities. Elsey has also served as an assistant superintendent for Detroit Public Schools, and chief schools officer of Detroit Rising College Prep Schools where he introduced governing councils and site-based management controls to empower nine low-performing neighborhood high schools.

Elsey has also served as chief of innovation and incubation at Chicago Public Schools where he helped establish a common evaluation system across schools of all governance types, equalized funding for charter and alternative schools, and more than doubled the number of seats serving opportunity youth. While in Chicago, Elsey also led a broad coalition of school leaders, funders, and policymakers to create the Commitment to Quality, a city-wide agreement to improve charter school performance. In the span of two years, the number of Chicago charter schools on the “warning list” was reduced from 10 to three.

Elsey holds an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and master’s degrees in teaching and education leadership from Pace University and The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, respectively. In 2016, he was named as a Future Chief with Chiefs For Change.

“I am excited and honored to have been selected to lead the Detroit Children’s Fund.  Detroit’s comeback will be complete only when every school in the city is high quality,” Elsey said. “We at DCF intend to help make that happen by growing the best schools in Detroit, recruiting national high-performing schools to join us, and investing in our most promising future leaders to ensure our schools continue to improve for many years to come.”

“In our work, we have the privilege to meet talented and passionate people who dedicate themselves to supporting children. Jack is a prime example,” said Nick Karmanos, chief advancement officer of the Detroit Children’s Fund. “He works from the heart, has strong vision, and is a thoughtful collaborator. We’re delighted to have him lead the team.”

Detroit Children’s Fund adds three key staff members including Nick Karmanos as chief advancement officer

DETROIT – Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF) announced today the addition of three key staff members to aid in fund development for the organization.

Nick Karmanos has been hired as chief advancement officer, responsible for DCF’s institutional advancement and fundraising. Prior to joining Detroit Children’s Fund, Karmanos served as senior vice president of institutional relations for Karmanos Cancer Institute, where he raised more than $150 million over 16 years.

“The opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of Detroit’s children through improved access to quality education is very important to me,” said Karmanos. “We have the chance to provide hope and opportunity to generations of kids, empowering them to find a brighter future. I am truly humbled to have the chance to contribute and look forward to working with the DCF board and my colleagues in advancing this epic endeavor.”

Lisa Laurin and Karry Dalton have also been added to the DCF development team, and will work under Karmanos’ leadership. 

Laurin joins Detroit Children’s Fund as corporate relations officer, developing relationships with corporate partners and supporting the execution of major gift solicitation strategies. Dalton will serve as events officer, responsible for planning and executing DCF’s fundraising events.

“I am thrilled that these very talented folks have joined the team. They will play a critical role in leading our outreach efforts with the broader community,” said Tonya Allen, DCF board member and president & CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “Detroit Children’s Fund has gained a lot of traction over the past year, thanks to our generous donors, our impassioned board led by KC Crain, and the work of Punita Dani Thurman, executive director. The addition of Nick, Lisa and Karry to the team will help us accelerate this momentum.”

“The experience and capabilities Nick, Lisa and Karry bring to DCF will be a tremendous support to our mission of dramatically changing the odds of success for Detroit children,” said KC Crain, chairman of the Detroit Children’s Fund.

About the Detroit Children’s Fund

Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF) is committed to dramatically changing the odds for Detroit youth by ensuring they have exceptional learning and developmental opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom. Built in partnership with a team of civic and corporate leaders from across the city and globe, DCF deploys venture philanthropy principals to invest in high-potential education nonprofits that serve Detroit children. More at www.DetroitChildrensFund.org.

Media Contact: Natalie Fotias, 313.393.1179, nfotias@skillman.org

Shinola and Matt Lauer partner to benefit Detroit Children’s Fund

NBC’s Matt Lauer partnered with Detroit-based luxury lifestyle brand Shinola to create a collection of products that honors his 20-year anniversary with TODAY and benefits the Detroit Children’s Fund.

The collection, TODAY’s Original, includes five essential items co-designed by Lauer and the brand — paperback journals, a 12-month planner, a boxed card set, watch straps and a leather passport wallet.

The collection is part of an initiative by the same name, where TODAY anchors create products with net profits benefitting a charity of their choice.

“I chose products that are important in my life and I hope they create some connection for people as well,” Lauer told Shinola when touring the Detroit headquarters.

Each product in the collection includes an inscription of the number “20,” commemorating his anniversary.

When asked why he chose to re-create these specific products, Lauer said, “First thing, each morning, I wake up and I open my leather-bound calendar. I get a look at my day as I do every day, and I look ahead at my week and look at my travel planner. I know 90 percent of people these days do all of that on their smart phone and their digital calendars, but that’s just not me.”

Proceeds to DCF will benefit the Detroit Edison Public School Academy, “a public school run under The New Paradigm for Education that provides outstanding learning opportunities for children in Detroit, ensuring success through both high school and college.”

“We’re grateful for the willingness of NBC, Matt Lauer and Shinola to support the Detroit Children’s Fund and our efforts to fund programs that benefit all of Detroit’s school children” said KC Crain, chairman of Detroit Children’s Fund. “This is exactly the kind of national exposure needed to promote the importance of improving educational opportunities for everyone in Detroit.”

Read the full interview with Shinola.

(Image courtesy of Shinola)

From The Today Show: Matt Lauer teams up with Shinola to craft products for a good cause

From ww.today.com:

Call him old fashioned if you want, but Matt Lauer still loves getting mail that doesn’t contain a single emoji. Like, actual mail. On paper.

“I’d love to remind people the joy of holding on to something that doesn’t ring or beep or send you a tone,” he recently explained.

That’s why Matt teamed up with Detroit-based lifestyle brand Shinola to create a five-piece collection for his TODAY’s Original product.

Read the full story here.