New three-year, $2.4 million grant expands WSU racial equity initiative

February 20, 2018

The Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL), an initiative of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School, will advance the cause of racial equity with the support of a $2.4 million grant awarded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 

Beginning in January, the three-year award funds Phase II of the program.

“We are grateful to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for their leadership on racial equity in Detroit and nationwide,” said Professor Peter J. Hammer, director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. “Their support of DEAL is strengthening a network for social change that has the power to transform southeast Michigan.”

Phase II will empower the lab’s network through opportunities for collective professional development, fostering robust connections within the DEAL community as well as with others engaged in building equitable communities, and convening members to build the infrastructure necessary to sustain a powerful network for social change. Two additional cohorts of fellows will be recruited to help expand the network. The lab also will produce original research to begin meeting the information needs identified by the communities most impacted, and continue to formulate and assess approaches to eliminating structural racism.

“We've spent the last three years building relationships with an amazing group of leaders and innovators working hard to end systemic racism and build equitable communities in Detroit and the region,” said eliza perez-ollin, director of the Detroit Equity Action Lab. “Together we've begun to build shared understandings of how structural racism has shaped the vast majority of Detroit's inequities, and create visions for an equitable Detroit region that offers abundant opportunities for all, especially those who have historically been most impacted.”

The Detroit Equity Action Lab promotes racial equity and justice by bringing together a multi-racial, intergenerational group of leaders and innovators working in the many dimensions of racial equity to address issues of structural racism in the greater Detroit area. Sectors and issues include arts and media, community development, law, and access to basic needs such as water, education, health and community care, a clean environment, food security, transportation and housing. Since its establishment in 2014, DEAL has convened three cohorts, creating a network of more than 80 individuals representing 75 organizations that deploy diverse methods to end structural racism.

This is the lab’s second award from the Kellogg Foundation, which funded the first phase of the initiative with a $1.5 million grant in 2014.

“We are committed to working alongside our community to help make Detroit a more equitable place for all our children,” said Ed Egnatios, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We are honored to support DEAL as they expand their network of cross-sector racial equity leaders to address structural inequities and help people heal from the effects of racism.”

About the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights

The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School promotes the educational, economic and political power of underrepresented communities in urban settings.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the United States are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

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