DBusiness Daily Update: U-M Ramps Up Work in Detroit During Pandemic, Ford Fund and Delta Dental Launch Mobile Dental Care Project, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of March 6

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

U-M Ramps Up Work in Detroit During Pandemic
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor ramped up its collaborations on a multitude of projects in the city of Detroit during the COVID-19 pandemic, including outreach to residents on issues ranging from unemployment to the vaccine.

Initiatives such as Poverty Solutions, which created an Economic Mobility Partnership with the city of Detroit, and a partnership with four community organizations to help lower utility bills for residents are among a host of endeavors that touch on education, cultural expression, business, health care, and the arts.

“Faculty, students, and staff from all three of our campuses work alongside Detroit partners to learn and serve in ways that create mutual benefits,” says Mark Schlissel, president of U-M.

All projects are guided by U-M’s principles for engagement: emphasize recognition for the expertise and knowledge within the community; respect for individuals, communities and their resources; and equitable partnership focused on reciprocal relationships, transparency, and accountability.

Since the onset of the pandemic, new and expanded projects include:

  • More frequent, timely surveys from the U-M Detroit Metro Area Communities Study.
  • Research on food insecurity during the pandemic to help the city identify the most seriously affected areas and provide policy and technical recommendations.
  • The Center of Finance, Law and Policy, housed in the Ford School of Public Policy, was awarded a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation for an emergency support program for small businesses in Detroit affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A new project in partnership with four Detroit community-based organizations, will try to reduce the burden on residents who spend up to 30 percent of monthly income on energy bills.
  • “‘The Fierce Urgency of Now’: Communities Conquering COVID” was awarded a National Institutes of Health grant.
  • Public art exhibitions for 2020-21 are held every three to four weeks and feature the work of Detroit artists and designers at the Michigan Research Studio/ArcPrep space on Selden Street, just off the corner of Woodward Avenue.
  • The Detroit River Story Lab began with grant-funded partnerships and several multidisciplinary courses devoted to the international waterway’s long and deep store of sustaining narratives, past and present.
  • The Luke Clinic provides free prenatal, postpartum, and infant care (through one year of life) to any family in the Detroit metro area.
  • Poverty Solutions created the community-based research project Investing in Us: Resident Priorities for Economic Mobility in Detroit.

The university’s engagement in Detroit, where it was founded in 1817, is driven by its public mission and is well aligned with the city’s areas of focus: economic mobility and growth, cultural expression and arts innovation, access to higher education, and healthy neighborhoods and community development.

The variety and volume of the efforts are a collaboration with Detroit’s neighborhoods, its community organizations, and its residents. While the specific goals and partners of each effort vary, all of the work aims to help boost the vitality of Detroit and the region.

Ford Fund and Delta Dental Launch Mobile Dental Care Project in Detroit
Ford Motor Co. Fund and Delta Dental are teaming up with Kare Mobile to help address a shortfall in many underserved Detroit neighborhoods — the lack of quality, reliable dental care.

The joint initiative, which also includes Lightship Foundation, is launching the Motor City Kares giveaway to offer one minority dentist the opportunity to win a $150,000 Ford Transit mobile dental office to serve children and families in low-income communities.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. If left untreated, cavities can cause pain and infections, lead to eating and speaking problems and other serious consequences. Children with poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children receiving regular dental care.

“Quality, reliable dental care is not available to many children in Detroit’s most underserved zip codes,” says Dr. Kwane Watson, founder and CEO, Kare Mobile. “We expect this initiative to help change that because everyone deserves access to comprehensive oral health care.”

The Motor City Kares giveaway runs from March 5 to April 16. Interested minority dental professionals can visit here to learn more and apply. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges from Ford Fund, Kare Mobile, Delta Dental, and Lightship Foundation and notified in late spring.

The winning dentist will operate the mobile dental clinic for at least two years, which will allow them to build a stable practice including non-Medicaid patients — creating a sustainable business for themselves and a long-term dental resource for the community.

“This partnership is about improving public health and building community wealth,” says Margaret Trimer, vice president of strategic partnerships for Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. “We are not solely investing in dental care but lifting up minority entrepreneurs so they can provide critical access to care right here in Detroit.”

The giveaway winner will be mentored by the team at Kare Mobile and attend an incubator bootcamp run by Lightship Foundation — the first inclusion-focused entrepreneur advancement program in the Midwest. Delta Dental and Ford Fund worked together on the purchase and retrofitting of the Transit Van.

Over the course of the two-year agreement, the winning dentist will be required to serve in southeast Michigan at least 50 percent of their time and help provide reliable dental care in southwest Detroit’s Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods. They will leverage services currently provided by the Ford Resource and Engagement Center in southwest Detroit, as well as Michigan Central Station’s mobility-based programs and operations. At the end of the agreement, the business and mobile clinic is theirs to keep.

“The Motor City Kares giveaway allows us to combine Ford’s expertise in transportation with Ford Fund’s commitment to strengthening communities,” saysa Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Co. Fund. “We are pleased to support an innovative mobility solution that brings essential dental services directly to residents and that will benefit these neighborhoods for years to come.”

Wayne State Study: Plastic Face Shields Add Little Protection to Face Masks
Studies conducted by physician-researchers at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit indicate that the use of plastic face shields with surgical masks provides the best protection against COVID-19 infection, but combining the two made little difference over the use of masks alone.

The use of surgical masks alone provide good protection, surpassing that offered by face shields alone, is reported in the study, titled “A laboratory model demonstrating the protective effects of surgical masks, face shields, and a combination of both in a speaking simulation,” published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

“Surprisingly, when assessing the combined protection of surgical mask and face shield, the level of protection was not enhanced in comparison to using surgical masks alone,” says Dr. Teena Chopra, professor of internal medicine and infectious diseases at the WSU School of Medicine, and lead author of the study. “This result reinforces the fact that a surgical mask serves as an effective intervention, providing protection from aerosol droplets that spread COVID-19.”

Wayne State Psychiatry Developing Mental Health Program for First Responders
The Wayne State University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Sciences in Detroit has teamed with the state of Michigan to develop a comprehensive behavioral and mental health training and support program for the state’s first responders and their families to address the stress they face in their duties protecting residents.

The program, Frontline Strong Together, will be available electronically and in-person to first responders and their families in nearly all of Michigan’s 83 counties this year. The program is being developed and implemented with representatives of the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Department of Corrections, paramedics, and dispatchers.

WSU mental health experts teamed with Kenneth Wolf, Ph.D., director of the Incident Management Team, and the 211 crisis and referral network, to develop the program. A $2 million grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will fund the development of education, training, support, and behavioral health treatment services by experts of the WSU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. The programs will assist police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, dispatchers, and corrections personnel, and their families in addressing and reducing sources of stress from both acute and chronic stressors.

“Frontline Strong Together distinguishes Wayne State University in that the research we do is not in some ivory tower. This is right in the trenches with the community, in real time, to develop evidence-based approaches to help as many people as possible,” says Dr. David Rosenberg, chair of the WSU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. “We go where the data is and implement the best practices.”

The 211 system is a free service that connects Michigan residents with help and answers from thousands of health and human services agencies and resources in their communities — quickly, easily, and confidentially.

The training and resources made available throughout the state under Frontline Strong Together will provide support via academic-backed medical research in a state with a critical lack of support services, especially for first responders and their families.

Dr. Rosenberg said statistics indicate that more first responders die of suicide than from injuries sustained in the line of duty. A 2020 study conducted by Blue Help, a national organization working to bring awareness of suicide and mental health issues among police officers, showed that in 2019 228 American police officers died by suicide, an increase over the numbers reported in 2018 and 2017.

Another study, conducted by the Ruderman Foundation, indicated that police officers are at a higher risk for suicide than any other profession. The number of officers taking their own lives is more than triple the number fatally injured in the line of duty. With the increased stress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rosenberg says he would not be surprised if the numbers increase.

Frontline Strong Together will see WSU psychiatrists develop and manage a statewide clearinghouse of materials that include training videos and manuals, and train-the-trainer curriculums for use in police and firefighter training. A website will be developed that will include videos by mental health experts that provide explanations and positive techniques, and training videos for families and peers.

The topics will focus on effective language family members can use to deescalate situations; recognizing self-harm, including alcohol and substance use; psychiatric symptoms; non-violent communication; when and where to get help, resources for mental health treatment; and coping mechanisms for stress and trauma.

Detroit Manufacturing Systems to Host Hiring Fair March 13
Detroit Manufacturing Systems, an automotive manufacturing, assembly, and sequencing company with locations in Detroit and Toledo, will be hosting an in-person hiring fair on Saturday, March 13, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at El Kiosko in southwest Detroit.

With both salaried and hourly positions available at both the Detroit and Toledo locations, DMS offers team members comprehensive benefits packages including medical, vision, and dental coverage, 401(k) with company matching, paid holidays, as well as wages starting at $14 per hour and opportunities for wage increases and career advancement.

DMS offers education opportunities with upfront tuition assistance for any field of study for certification programs, undergrad, and graduate program as well as personal and professional growth through ongoing training, skills development, and career advancement.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to expand our DMS family by giving local residents the opportunity to learn more about our company and the great impact that we have as individuals and as a collective in the community,” says Monica Brand, chief human resources officer at DMS.

The Hiring Fair will take place at El Kiosko, located at 7271 Dix in Detroit. Interested parties who are not able to attend can also apply online at hireme@dmsna.com.

Applicants are asked to bring two forms of Identification and will be asked to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing measures.

Walsh College Launches Cyber MBA, First of its Kind in Michigan
Walsh College in Troy has introduced a Cybersecurity Master of Business Administration (Cyber MBA), the first integrative program of its kind in Michigan, combining key components of Walsh’s Master of Science in Information Technology Leadership and internationally ranked MBA.

The Cyber MBA is designed to create business leaders who know how to align vision, strategy, and resources with mature processes to generate business success, including cybersecurity. The Cyber MBA can be completed entirely online in as little as one year and is available beginning in the spring semester on March 30.

“Cyber risk mitigation is where businesses and leaders most frequently fail. Walsh’s Cyber MBA is designed to develop leaders who understand how to align cyber initiatives with an organization’s vision, strategy and resources to enable business success in an evolving world,” says, Dave Schippers, chair and assistant professor of IT/Decision Sciences at Walsh.

For more information, visit here.

State Proclaims Today Volunteers of America Day Recognizing 125 Years of Service
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a proclamation making today Volunteers of America Day in Michigan in recognition of the organization’s 125 years of service to those in need.

VOAMI provides help to the homeless, food for the hungry, employment and shelter for veterans, housing for seniors, and a helping hand for struggling families.

In 2020, VOAMI services assisted 10,256 people in Michigan across various programs including 545 veteran families; 235 veterans receiving employment and training; 974 low-income seniors and families living in affordable housing; 282 students enrolled in our healthcare career training, 715 backpacks to homeless students, 2,331 families receiving a holiday filled with joy, and more.

“Volunteers of America Michigan has been serving communities throughout our great state for 125 years, and we are honored to have March 8 recognized as Volunteers of America Day,” says Alex Brodrick, president and CEO of VOAMI. “Our staff and volunteers are committed to serve those who can’t serve themselves, and we look forward to continuing our commitment for years to come.”

VOAMI is part of VOA network of 30 affiliate chapters serving 1.5 million individuals in more than 400 communities each year nationwide. Michigan’s first post appeared in Traverse City. It was on Grand Traverse Bay and was called Lighthouse #1.

The organization is hosting its week of giving through March 13. The community can make a difference with a gift to VOAMI:

  • $35 could help a veteran buy clothing for a life changing job interview.
  • $50 could give a homeless child a backpack full of school supplies.
  • $100 could provide masks, sanitizer, and cleaning supplies for a senior community.
  • $150 could give a senior a pantry full of groceries.
  • $250 could pay a month’s rent for a homeless veteran.

To make a donation to VOAMI, please visit here.

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