The Hudson-Webber Foundation (HWF), a Detroit-based philanthropic organization dating back to 1939 has announced a change to its approach to investments throughout the city. Under a newly developed strategy, the foundation will focus on investments in organizations, programs, and initiatives to help achieve sustainable, broad-based prosperity throughout Detroit.
Over the past decade, the foundation has concentrated on investments in greater downtown, focusing on intensive efforts to position the city to retain and attract residents and jobs through increased density and vibrancy in the urban core. HWF’s new strategy centers around creating access and opportunities for residents to attain quality jobs, safe housing, and thriving neighborhoods.
“There have been profound changes over the last 10 years in the Greater Downtown that have built upon the city’s strong cultural and physical assets, and these transformations better position our city and region to be successful in a 21st century economy,” says Melanca Clark, HWF’s president and CEO. “The foundation will continue to support important work happening in the core. To build on this momentum, and to help ensure that all residents benefit from the city’s growth, we will also make investments in neighborhoods outside the core, and with investments that are systemic in scope.”
Clark emphasizes that addressing structural barriers to opportunity for people of color will be a high priority for the foundation’s investments. In conjunction with its new approach, HWF is also announcing four reframed mission areas where it will focus activities and investment, including: community and economic development, built environment, arts and culture, and safe and just communities. Across these mission areas, HWF will engage in policy and research activities.
“The addition of policy and research activities to support our mission areas acknowledges that achieving the desired pace and magnitude of community change, whether in criminal justice, economic development, housing affordability, or even the arts, often requires systemic or structural changes that can only be brought about through policy decisions,” says Clark.
Previously, the foundation made significant investments in neighborhood stabilization, workforce development, and criminal justice reforms in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The foundation will also concentrate its efforts and resources on empowering human capital throughout Detroit, stimulating the vitality of place, addressing persistent racial inequalities and structural barriers, and seeking innovative approaches to increased prosperity.
HWF grants approximately $7 million annually. In the last year, the foundation has granted $1 million to Develop Detroit to support affordable and mixed-income housing developments, $1 million to Invest Detroit for the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, and $150,000 to the Community Reinvestment Fund for the Detroit Home Mortgage Program to increase access to home loans in Detroit neighborhoods.
Wayne State University also received $45,000 to support the Detroit Police Department’s operation of the Ceasefire program to reduce gun violence in partnership with the City of Detroit. Additionally, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies also received $20,000 to develop economic policy research and solutions tailored to historically marginalized communities.
HWF as creased with major contributions from Mr. and Mrs. Richard H. Webber, other members of the Webber family, and The J.L. Hudson Co. The foundation is governed by a 13-member board of trustees and has contributed more than $200 million to improve the quality of life in Detroit, with assets totaling $170 million.