Creating Tomorrow Together

A Neighborhood Newsletter from Ford

Issue No. 6, September 2020

Ford’s Michigan Central is collaborating with Newlab to form a new civic studio in Corktown focusing on immediate mobility issues in the neighborhoods around Michigan Central Station. Founded in 2016, Brooklyn-based Newlab has hosted multiple civic studios, while building a network of 800+ inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs committed to creating technologies and services to address the most complex challenges facing today’s cities.

Newlab recently partnered with the Economic Development Corp. of New York to form the Circular City Studio, where numerous public and private sector collaborators are working together to reimagine sustainable infrastructure for New York City.

“As Ford continues to work globally on the future of mobility, our new civic studio will focus on neighborhoods,” says Ford’s Julie Roscini, “We envision a program where entrepreneurs and startups work together with local experts to address transportation and access issues that affect Detroit residents.”

Starting in September, Newlab and Michigan Central will host a series of virtual workshops to identify and prioritize the mobility problems that affect Detroit’s neighborhoods, such as resident access to goods and services, schools and places of employment. Workshop participants include city leaders and local experts who focus on transit and entrepreneurship.

“We’re helping make connections for Newlab to local organizations who understand the critical transportation challenges that Detroit residents face every day,” says Paul Riser Jr., of Detroit Urban Solutions. “The civic studio is a tremendous opportunity for our citizens to co-create solutions, working right alongside industry experts to drive systemic change.”

The civic studio will research and define the most pressing neighborhood issues, and Newlab will draw talent from its national network to develop new solutions with local organizations and residents.

“Detroit drove the biggest mobility revolution in modern history, and now it’s a launchpad for what’s next,” says Newlab CEO Shaun Stewart. “This studio brings together local experts and innovators to solve some of Detroit’s critical mobility challenges and make its neighborhoods more accessible for everyone.”

For info, visit

Michigan Central collaborates with Newlab to launch a new civic studio to make neighborhoods more accessible. Above: Studio participants working at Newlab’s prototyping facility in Brooklyn, NY.
The former train platform will be transformed into a versatile landscape for the public to experience new mobility solutions and technologies.
High school students from Mercy Education Project were among the winners of the Ford MCS City:One Challenge.
Detroit’s Jonathan Mize on site at Michigan Central.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Exec. Chairman Bill Ford and Mayor Mike Duggan announce Michigan Connected Corridor.


A Conversation with Ford
125 members of the public attended our virtual meetings in June to hear our vision for a mobility innovation district and updates on design, construction and partnerships. Through live polling, the public selected youth education and entrepreneurship as top priority needs for community grantmaking. As a result, we will commit $250,000 in 2020 funds toward youth education and $500,000 in 2021 to develop a sustainable entrepreneur program. Join us for our Oct. public meeting, date TBA.

Michigan Central on Facebook
Our new Michigan Central logo takes center stage in this month’s newsletter and you can now follow us on the @MichiganCentral facebook page, expanding opportunities for public exchange. For info, visit


Remediation work begins this month on the old train platform behind Michigan Central Station as we prepare for a new mobility platform. This new public space will feature outdoor amenities and mobility testing capabilities.
“We’ve enclosed the train shed area with fencing and installed a new public information board on 17th Street with construction and air quality updates to keep our neighbors informed throughout the remediation process,” says construction manager Rich Bardelli.

After a brief pause due to COVID-19, Phase Two of the Michigan Central Station renovation has resumed safely. Work continues on eight acres of exterior masonry repair, basement demolition, roofing installation and repairs to the Guastavino tiled arches in the old waiting room.
“We’re repairing ornamental plasterwork and replacing limestone including the historic balustrade,” adds Bardelli. “Over the next two months, 5,000 new Guastavino tiles will be installed in the station’s vaulted main vestibule.”

For the latest construction photos, visit

Ford stands with all disenfranchised groups, today and everyday. And we will continue to support programs that open doors, promote understanding and convene conversations against all racial and social injustice. And while we know that what we have been doing isn’t enough and we must – and will – do more, it’s important to note that we will be building on many great diversity, inclusion and minority programs that Ford has been supporting for years.

When Western International High School senior Tania Almanza learned that her team won Ford’s MCS City:One Challenge, she was understandably excited. But when she found out that her experience on the neighborhood-focused mobility project came with a scholarship to help support her freshman year at Albion College, she was ecstatic.

“It was such a great learning experience,” says Tania.  “It helped me be more open to group activities and work with more responsibilities.”

“The girls who won the challenge wanted to address the two large concerns of how to improve safety, and how to feel more connected to the entire city — not just in their Southwest and Corktown neighborhoods,” says Nicole Meunier, of the Mercy Education Project (MEP). “Out of our 10 graduating seniors who participated in the 2019 City:One Challenge, we had 55 college acceptance letters.”

Based in south Corktown, MEP empowers low-income women and girls with limited access to resources who’ve faced some tough educational challenges. Not only are students from MEP learning their curriculum through a tangible project like City:One, they’re also finding they have a voice and a sense of ownership in neighborhood outcomes.

“City:One Challenge helped me feel more confident,” says Cass Tech junior Ni’Matullah Watkins. “I felt like my ideas mattered.”

“It helped expose me to important issues in our community like mobility,” says Western junior Andrea Alcantar. “It also gave me some real insight into the business world.”

Meunier emphasizes the value that project-based learning opportunities like City:One bring to neighborhood teens. “They were excited about the project because they’d never been asked how they could directly improve their city,” she says. “This project showed them that, as teenage Detroiters, they have a voice and their ideas matter.”


The first cohort of 25 apprentices in the Ford Fast Track job program will begin work at the train station on Sept. 15. Fast Track is a four-month paid work experience and mentorship program designed to connect Detroit residents with job opportunities in masonry, carpentry and a variety of skilled trades. The second cohort is scheduled for February — with more to follow!

Eligible candidates must be 18+ years old and residents of Detroit, with those who live in the MCS impact area receiving top priority. Members of the program will be paid $15/hour for a 40-hour workweek.

Register at


Last month Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new initiative to develop a first-of-its-kind corridor for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) that will pave the way for the roads of the future. 

The ambitious project will explore a 40-mile driverless car corridor between downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor that allows for a mix of CAVs, traditional transit vehicles, shared mobility, freight and personal vehicles. Smart infrastructure, including dedicated lanes for connected and self-driving vehicles, would link communities and key destinations along Michigan Avenue and I-94 in Wayne and Washtenaw counties. 

“Michigan continues to lead by changing the way people move to help reduce emissions, increase transportation equity and better connect our communities,” says Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford.

The state recently selected Cavnue, a subsidiary of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, to lead Phase One of the initiative, a two-year study to explore the corridor’s technical and financial viability. Ford will work with Cavnue to position Michigan Central Station as a key node along the corridor. The City of Detroit says the corridor complements the Greater Corktown Planning Framework and will be integrated with the MDOT Michigan Avenue study.  

“With the creation of this corridor, we will show the world the reality of an accessible and just transportation system for the future,” says U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. 

For info, visit


Tour de Troit
The Tour de Troit bicycle ride on Sept. 19 has been canceled. Instead riders can take four virtual rides from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31., including a 12 mi. ride through SW Detroit from Roosevelt Park.

We’ve enjoyed coming together for our neighborhood Halloween celebrations in recent years, and we’re currently exploring safe options for 2020. Follow us on facebook for upcoming dates and details.


Offerings from the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (SW FREC) at 2628 Bagley

Fresh Market Pantry Program

Every Thu. 5 – 7pm. All are Welcome!  

(313) 962-4888

Mercado Food Hub
Mon., 10am – 1pm, Wed., 2 – 5pm and Sat. 10am – 1pm

By Appointment Only (313) 962-4888. In case of an emergency, visit during posted hours.
FREE Legal Services by Southwest Detroit Immigrant & Refugee Center

Wed. 12 – 5pm

By Appointment only (313) 437-1550

FREE Tax Services by Accounting Aid Society
Tue. and Thu. 9am – 4pm

By Appointment Only (313) 556-1920

SER Metro Detroit Job Services

Tue. 9am- 1pm and Thu. 1 – 4pm

By Appointment Only (313) 377-1067


Living Arts at Home - online music, visual art, writing and dance programs for youth and families

Detroit Means Business – City of Detroit’s hub for businesses seeking COVID-19 resources for recovery

United Way for Southeastern Michigan – COVID-19 resources, information, guidelines and updates



CONTACT US: 313.845.3673 | | #FORDETROIT

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