This is our 45th year of service!

Focus: HOPE, a nationally-recognized civil and human rights organization, launched its 45th anniversary year on March 8, 2013. The organization was formed in the aftermath of the Detroit riots and tackled some of the most racially charged issues facing our community in the 1960s and 1970s. From those beginnings, Focus: HOPE has grown into one of the community’s most effective non-profits, developing pioneering education, food, and community development programs.

March 8th began a year of anniversary events that will include a fall homecoming and culminate with a March 2014 gala benefit. The Detroit-based organization is asking people to post messages, photos and or/videos about Focus: HOPE and its impact on them or the community. Those messages can be posted at focushopeblog.com in the 45th anniversary section or by email to 45years@focushope.edu. Throughout the year, the messages will be shared on Focus: HOPE’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/focushope) and through other social media.

“Over the last 45 years, Focus: HOPE has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in southeast Michigan,” said William F. Jones, Jr., CEO. “For our anniversary year, we would like to reconnect with many of those who participated in our food program, graduated from our education and training programs, or who benefited from our community development initiatives. We hope to hear about their experiences, invite them to a homecoming and share their stories as a tribute to the vision of our co-founders.”

 

Focus: HOPE was founded by two civil rights activists, the Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis, who were determined to address the root causes of the 1967 disturbance. One of their first actions was conducting a study with Wayne State University that demonstrated that urban grocery and drug stores were charging more for food and prescriptions than suburban stores.

“The HOPE 68 food study laid the foundation for Focus: HOPE. It was the beginning of our efforts to provide food to the vulnerable and open job opportunities for people of color,” said Jones. “We have a rich history here and owe much to the passion and persistence of our co-founders. Today, we are fully committed to continuing to address the issues of racism, poverty and injustice that continue to pervade our society.”

The Focus: HOPE mission is to use “intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice.” Its co-founders built an organization that broke the race and gender barriers in the machinist trades through job training programs, provided nutritious food to hundreds of thousands of low income families and senior citizens, provided education and career training to nearly 12,000 individuals, and remains committed to providing education and economic assistance to the neighborhood around its campus on Oakman Boulevard in Detroit.