The Detroit Partnership began in 1999 as one large-scale day of service through Circle K, a student organization on the U-M campus dedicated to service, friendship and leadership. The day of service was named Detroit Partnership (DP) Day and took place on April 8, 2000. The Detroit Partnership has grown significantly from that one simple idea into one of the largest organizations on campus, with more than 1,500 volunteers participating in service projects throughout the year.
The initial idea for The Detroit Partnership is credited to Katie Foley, who was at the time the president of Circle K. Katie wanted to create more opportunities for U-M students to participate in community service projects in the Detroit community. Along with Sara Rowe, a fellow U-M student, Katie brainstormed lists of volunteer opportunities in the city. Meetings with numerous Detroit community organizations gave the pair a better sense of the types of projects that would be most beneficial to the community and to U-M students. Along with logistical details such as a timeline, a budget, and an organizational personnel chart, the group of students worked on publicizing their idea on campus and recruiting interested students.
After extensive research and meetings with community organizations and leaders, the group decided to focus their work in the Brightmoor neighborhood in northwest Detroit, an area with a median income of $16,010 and 44% of its residents living below poverty level.
On April 8, 2000 the first Detroit Project Day took place. More than 400 U-M volunteers worked at 32 different sites planting trees and grass seed, cleaning parks and demolishing homes, among other projects.
Since that day, the Detroit Partnership has expanded tremendously to become a year-round service organization. Now working with the two communities of Brightmoor and Southwest, the opportunities are endless. Members are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of programs Monday-Saturday. The Detroit Partnership has also dedicated itself to the idea of service-learning, incorporating a strong education component to the organization.
Every year The Detroit Partnership continues to expand, and strengthen its programs in order to unite U-M students and the city of Detroit through meaningful service learning.