The 21st Century: Focus: HOPE leads neighborhood revitalization

With new leadership in place, Focus: HOPE launched a new education program that capitalized on expanding career opportunities in the information technology field. The Information Technologies Center (ITC) opened in 1999 and has graduated 1,200 students into careers as computer technicians and network administrators. Industry partners include Cisco, Microsoft and the Computer Technology Industry Association. Building on that success, ITC collaborated with Wayne State University to launch an Information Management and Systems Engineering degree program in 2007 that combines technology and business course work.

With the start of the 21st Century, Focus: HOPE made neighborhood revitalization a priority. The organization already had created a modern campus in an area populated by abandoned industrial buildings. It tore down two buildings to create the Focus: HOPE Park in the center of campus. Featuring
a fountain with a carved image of Father Cunningham and the mission statement, the park provides a quiet oasis in a busy
urban area.

Next, efforts turned toward the neighboring residential and business community, as Focus: HOPE sought to aid new development and revitalize its neighborhood. Today, the organization coordinates a community-wide campaign against illegal dumping in Highland Park and unites community groups, volunteers, businesses, and others to board up or tear down

abandoned properties and clean up vacant lots and alleys. In collaboration with other organizations, Focus: HOPE helped establish the Village of Oakman Manor, a 55-unit apartment building for very low income senior citizens and an adjacent park. A neighborhood park has become the focal point for
children with the addition of a playscape and basketball court.

In 2009, Focus: HOPE launched the HOPE Village Initiative to support the academic achievement of children in its neighborhood. It has adopted two neighborhood schools, Glazer Elementary School and the Paul Robeson Academy, and will open a Family Learning Center to provide community access to tutors, computers, financial literacy classes and other resources.

The career training programs expanded in 2009 and 2010 to include training in the weatherization and health care fields. Students learn how to make homes and businesses more energy efficient in the weatherization program while the health care training prepares students to become Patient Care Technicians and Certified Nursing Assistants.

Focus: HOPE’s achievements over the last four decades are remarkable. Paramount among its accomplishments is providing food to hundreds of thousands of women, children and senior citizens and opening career opportunities to over 8,000 graduates of its education and job training programs. The organization has engaged the community by providing opportunities to get involved—and make a difference.

With a rich history and renewed energy, Focus: HOPE will continue to impact the community through “intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice.”