The Next Affordable Housing Project Leaders Graduate from Real Estate Development Boot Camp 2017

22 students graduated from Real Estate Development Boot Camp on June 8, 2017.

22 students graduated from Real Estate Development Boot Camp on June 8, 2017.

Twenty-two participants from differing economic development experience levels, five speakers from across the industry, four funding panel experts and a remote northern Michigan setting was the recipe for a successful Real Estate Development Boot Camp 2017.

Every year the goal of Boot Camp is to equip attendees with the knowledge and skills needed to manage or get involved in affordable housing projects. From tax credits to pro formas, site selection to underwriting, students were walked through the nuts and bolts of deals that could do many things: provide barrier-free housing; help low-income residents afford safe, comfortable housing; give residents access to supportive services; bring sustainability measures to neighborhoods; restore historic buildings and much more.  

Funding Panelist Jason Paulateer (left) and lead trainer Kirsten Elliott (right) collaborating on the last day of Boot Camp at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, MI.

Funding Panelist Jason Paulateer (left) and lead trainer Kirsten Elliott (right) collaborating on the last day of Boot Camp at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, MI.

Lead trainer Kirsten Elliott (VP of Development at Community Housing Network & CEDAM board member) ran engaging sessions pulling from a wide breadth of affordable and supportive housing personal experience, helping turn what could have been rather difficult material into inspiring, honest advisement and critical information for students.  

Four additional speakers, all of whom play integral roles in making real estate development deals happen, presented on a range of topics. Michael Stefanko of Loomis Law Firm spoke on legal structures, David Allen of MSHDA on market analysis, Joe Heaphy of Ethos Development Partners on layered financing and Katie Vondra of Cinnaire on property management and marketing.

The outcome? Conference attendees were able to understand the full picture, and had the opportunity to ask questions of the people they could very well be working with in the future.

Dakota Riehl (Inner City Christian Federation) and group member Greg Mangan (Southwest Detroit) work together on their final project.

Dakota Riehl (Inner City Christian Federation) and group member Greg Mangan (Southwest Detroit) work together on their final project.

“CEDAM’s Real Estate [Development] Boot Camp was a great opportunity to learn the foundational knowledge required to begin developing affordable housing in Michigan,” said Dakota Riehl, Real Estate Development Associate at the Inner City Christian Federation. “Not only were the lessons, presentations and guest speakers extremely educational, meeting other developers – both experienced and novice – was one of the best elements of the training.”

After 2 ½ days of diving into the industry, the students were then given the task of working in groups to pull together a potential project proposal. Site plans were laid out, pro formas were calculated and presentations were given. The funding panel, comprised of Jason Paulateer of PNC and CEDAM board member, Tim Strasz of Opportunity Resources Fund, Dawn Everett of MSHDA and Megan Coler of Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis offered the chance for the students to receive feedback from the people who actually review applications and fund projects.

“Although the projects were hypothetical, it was a great experience to pitch our ideas and projects to those individuals who work so closely with the funds necessary to make our future developments a reality,” said Riehl.


Funding panelists from left to right: Jason Paulateer, Tim Strasz, Megan Coler, Dawn Everett.

While the presentations themselves would require some imagination, all of the sites selected were real projects that a member of each group wants to take on in the future or is already in the works, making the feedback they received that much more valuable.

About a two-hour drive from our home base of Lansing, the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan served as a perfect location to feel just far enough away from the office, and allowed everyone to learn while enjoying what Michigan has to offer — water, the beach and plenty of trails to explore.

If you couldn’t attend this year’s Boot Camp but are interested in attending next year, email Emily at emily@cedam.info to make sure you receive information on it in early 2018.

Did You Know About These Two Michigan Tax Credits?

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 2.47.40 PMMichigan is a unique state in many ways. Some obvious, like its magnificent topography, numerous beaches and picturesque shorelines. Some, not so obvious, like its income tax credits for low- to moderate-income households. This is one of the reasons why across the state there are free tax sites open year-round to help Michigan taxpayers file and claim these credits, even if they are not required to do so under the federal tax code. Two of these credits, unique to Michigan, are the Homestead Property Tax Credit and the Home Heating Credit.

The Homestead Property Tax Credit helps eligible homeowners and renters pay some of their property taxes. It is based on the amount of property taxes that are paid (or a portion of a person’s rent that goes to pay property taxes) and a taxpayer’s overall household resources. A taxpayer just needs to fill out form MI-1040CR (or have a free site complete the form for them) to claim the credit. If the taxpayer is blind or a veteran, they may be eligible for a larger credit and need to complete MI-1040CR-2 as well. While the deadline to file the credit is the same as the regular April filing deadline, taxpayers can go back up to three years. Therefore, if a taxpayer did not file their 2016 taxes in April, they can do so now.

The Home Heating Credit is a Michigan credit for low income taxpayers to offset a taxpayer’s cost of heating their home. This credit has a much lower household resource limit than the Homestead Property Tax Credit, which means more eligible taxpayers also may not have any federal or state tax filing requirement. In order to receive this credit, they must file form MI-1040CR-7 or get help at a free tax site. The deadline for the Home Heating Credit is September 30. A taxpayer cannot go back and file for the credit after that time.

It is not too late for you or one of your clients to file for this credit. For help, dial 2-1-1 or visit MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org to find the nearest free tax site. If there does not appear to be a site near you, please contact me and I will see if I can get you the help you need to file for these important Michigan credits. I can be reached at yednock@cedam.info.

A Look Back at May: National Community Action Month

May was National Community Action month! Throughout May, attention was drawn to the role that Community Action Agencies have in helping low-income families achieve economic stability.

Several governors and mayors around the U.S., including Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, proclaimed May “Community Action Month”. Snyder stated:

“[C]ommunity action has put a human face on poverty for over 52 years by advocating for limited-income citizens, so that they may enter the middle class and reach for the American dream, replacing their despair with opportunity…community action already serves 99 percent of America’s counties in rural, suburban, and urban communities and because it is right, because it is wise, and because, in our hearts and minds we believe it is possible, we will conquer poverty in our lifetime…” The full declaration can be found here.

During the National Community Action Month, success stories were honored and personal achievements were recognized. The Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps (MFOC) currently has four members serving at Community Action Agencies throughout Michigan.  These members are hardworking, driven and embody the spirit of the MFOC and the collective mission of AmeriCorps to “Get Things Done!” Kimberly Yost, who is serving with Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency in Westland shared the impact she has at her host site:

“At my site, I plan and organize financial education classes for the clients of the IDA accounts and savings match accounts. These classes benefit the clients because the clients are learning how to better save their money to prepare for their futures.  I also help with planning events such as employee trainings and the Show Me the Money Day Event. In addition to these things, I create and provide content for Wayne Metro’s monthly newsletter. I also am helping to keep my host site’s webpage updated with current information regarding the financial education classes that I teach through them.”

Kim also shared what she liked most about her site, what she would miss most, and what her plans are after her service year is complete. She writes:

“What I like most [at my host site] is the atmosphere… everyone is kind and helpful, I enjoy being here. I also like being a part of the team and working with the organization to make a difference in my community. I will miss the people that I have gotten the privilege to get to know most of all!

Yost’s future plans are to attend graduate school at Wayne State University for Social Work, where she’ll graduate in 2018.

“I am focusing on interpersonal practice, specifically cognitive behavioral theory.I also plan to continue volunteering with my host site.  I believe in their message and would still like to be a part of that even after my service is over.”

In the words of President Lyndon B. Johnson, “There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves.” Thank you Kim and all those currently serving, volunteering, working at, or benefitting from the Community Action Agencies in Michigan!

Kim Jael AmeriCorps Week

CEDAM hosts the Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps and the Rural Opportunity VISTA program, both AmeriCorps programs. We would like to thank the Corps Support Committee for providing content to the Voices of AmeriCorps series.

Honoring Russ Mawby



Michigan hosts over 800 AmeriCorps members, who serve at 300 sites across the state. Most days, members focus on their specific mission, but one day every year, members gather regionally for a day of service in celebration of Dr. Russell “Russ” Mawby, who now serves as an honorary trustee for The W.K. Kellogg Foundation. His efforts to bring AmeriCorps to Michigan mean more than 42,000 people have served Michigan since 1994, which amounts to over 26 million hours of service in foreclosure, financial education, environmental cleanup, healthcare and much more.

“So it has been a mindset from the very beginning, I think, that we benefit from collaborative efforts and that a community benefits if the various organizations, nonprofits most of them, if they do collaborate to the extent possible.”

-Dr. Russ Mawby

The 2017 Regional Russ Mawby Signature Service Projects brought together the divweedingerse AmeriCorps cohort for a day of intensive service that visibly demonstrates the power of Michigan AmeriCorps in action. Members gathered in six regions, and each region had a variety of projects.

For example, at Ingham County Land Bank‘s vacant lot sites, members cleared brush and planted gardens. They weeded asparagus and planted raspberries to help provide fresh produce for the Greater Lansing Food Bank. Tri-cities members worked on fighting urban blight in Flint by boarding up vacant houses and clearing brush and debris from yards. Huron Pines built and placed bird houses in Hartwick Pines State Park with members from as far as Hart.

The Russ Mawby Signature Service Day gathered 800 AmeriCorps members from different communities and intensified their efforts through collaboration and dedication, and the proof is in the projects completed around the state. What better way to honor Dr. Russ Mawby.



Find out more about CEDAM’s AmeriCorps here.

President Trump Releases 2018 Budget Recommendations

The White House released their budget proposal on May 23, cutting $4.3 trillion over 10 years and including steep cuts to many domestic non-defense programs. About half of those cuts come from changes in programs including Medicaid, food assistance and federal student loans. The budget also includes steep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (31 percent), the State Department (29 percent, with an additional 2 percent cut per year) and the Education Department (13.5 percent).

The proposal includes changing the funding formula for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, making $600 billion in cuts over 10 years. Included in the Medicaid changes are setting annual limits on federal payments to each state in 2020. In addition, the plan:

  • Cuts SNAP by $190 billion (a reduction of more than 25 percent)
  • Estimates $40 billion in savings from barring undocumented immigrants from collecting the EITC and child care credit
  • Narrows access to Social Security Disability Insurance, testing “new approaches to increase labor force participation”
  • Cuts TANF by $21 billion over 10 years, including a $15.6 billion reduction in the amount of money the federal government gives to states to administer the program

Much of the savings from TANF and SNAP come from the President’s proposal to tighten eligibility requirements for benefits and “encourage” work.

In addition to the severe cuts, the budget proposal eliminates various programs and agencies including:

  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
  • HOME Investment Partnerships Program
  • Choice Neighborhoods program
  • National Housing Trust Fund
  • Corporation for National and Community Services (which includes AmeriCorps)
  • Legal Services Corporation
  • Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
  • Interagency Council on Homelessness
  • Great Lakes Restoration funding

It also calls for the elimination of federally subsidized student loans, as well as the public service loan forgiveness program for nurses, policy officers and teachers.

There are spending increases included in the recommendations, which include a 10 percent increase to the Pentagon’s base budget, $1.6 billion for the border wall, $200 billion for investment in infrastructure (which consists of a public/private investment plan) and extending the Veterans Choice Program. Also included is funding to provide six weeks of paid leave to new parents.

The general consensus is that the budget is unlikely to pass Congress without any changes. While the White House projects a balanced budget under this plan by 2027, the projections are made using assumptions that few economists or policy experts outside the administration view as realistic. The numbers assume a higher economic growth rate than most economists project, as well as not taking into consideration any deficits that would be caused by the tax reform proposed by the administration. It also assumes that the latest version of the health care bill will become law.

“I just think it’s the prerogative of Congress to make those decisions in consultation with the President,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told the AP.  “But almost every president’s budget proposal that I know of is basically dead on arrival.”

Voices of AmeriCorps: AmeriCorps Week Promotions in Grayling

Last month, Michigan’s AmeriCorps State and VISTA members celebrated a very special time in their service term year. The first full week of March was set aside as AmeriCorps Week, in which the AmeriCorps members across the state participated in a campaign to raise awareness about their program. Members participated in various outreach events, performed community service outside of their host site duties, and committed acts of kindness to those in their community. One person, however, set the bar high with her AmeriCorps Week festivities, and Corps Support wants to spotlight her great efforts!

americorpsHeather Tait, a VISTA member serving at Grayling Main Street, seemed to have a well-prepared game plan for AmeriCorps Week, as she participated every day enthusiastically. In just five days, Heather ran a social media campaign using posts with hashtags, such as #MotivationalMonday and #YouGotServed, to showcase exciting experiences and share her AmeriCorps-plastered photos. A special edition of Main Street Monday labeled AmeriCorps Night was organized and hosted by Heather too! She reached out to her community members and even the civil servants in her area, including the City of Grayling staff, the Police Department, and the Fire Department. Presentations at her host site and a local preschool, a front-page article (Page 1, Page 2) written in a well-known paper, and a radio interview with her co-member Hannah Juhl sparked community conversation about AmeriCorps in a great way! It is safe to say Heather was busy spreading the message of “Getting Things Done for America” to her neighbors.

Heather was very involved in the programming and coordination of these visual events. When asked to share her thoughts on the week, she explained a new simplified phrase she adopted for her remaining term—“just one person”. Heather concedes one setback to AmeriCorps work is the seemingly impersonal reporting and sometimes unknown impact made in the community directly related to her work. She decided to change her mindset and working on improving just one person’s life at a time. By using this to measure her success instead of strictly numbers, she feels she has succeeded and done extremely important work. Heather is doing great things in her community in the name of AmeriCorps. Thank you Heather for all your hard work and dedication to service!

CEDAM hosts the Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps and the Rural Opportunity VISTA program AmeriCorps programs. We would like to thank the Corps Support Committee (Jennifer Tucker, Lily Fossel and Autumn Zywicki) for providing content to the Voices of AmeriCorps series.

Placemaking: For Anyone, Or Everyone?

Written by Susan Wenzlick, Department of Environmental Quality


One of the buzzwords you hear a lot in arts and cultural circles is inclusion. Audiences for arts and culture have historically been overwhelmingly white, middle and upper income, and they are aging. Museums, symphonies, operas, and ballets recognize that they need to diversify their programming and attract new audiences – become more inclusive – to keep their doors open. Traditional programming is becoming obsolete. For example, my son, a flute and bagpipe player, wouldn’t get near a symphony concert until the Grand Rapids Symphony performed music from a Lord of the Rings movie – something much more relevant to him than Beethoven.

Placemaking has an inclusion problem too. Lots of placemaking plans are made collaboratively, but often with the usual community leaders invited by a gatekeeper. Inviting diverse participants to plan for non-traditional users isn’t always on the agenda. It needs to be.

Why is diversity important in placemaking? The author of this article about placemaking compares it to trickle-down economics. Placemaking efforts to attract and retain educated professionals theoretically also benefit those lower down the economic ladder. The author asserts that advocates for placemaking (or urbanist policy, as he calls it) are just creating what they themselves want in their community – that placemaking is a self-serving benefit created by and for the elite. The people lower down the ladder don’t really benefit (much like trickle-down economics). Placemaking becomes relevant to only a few.

I talked a few years ago with an old-school museum director about inclusion. I asked if he worked with community members when planning exhibits or programming for the museum – something that is no longer unusual. Nah, the director said, I know what the community needs. I don’t have to ask them. This particular museum doesn’t have a board of directors to give the museum director input. The museum’s agenda was set solely by a white guy in his 60s. Not surprisingly, diversity was not its strong suit. Interestingly, in the same conversation, he told me that the museum’s biggest problem was relevance. Go figure.


Well-meaning (or arrogant) community leaders can create events and places that are free, accessible, appealing to young people… but that may not attract people who are low income, disabled, non-white, or young. Research about whether free admission attracts new patrons to museums says it isn’t about cost. It’s about relevance, access, logistics, and marketing to underserved audiences. It’s about being intimidated by the content or event, rather than feeling comfortable and welcome.

In a blog post, Kevin Buist addresses diversity at ArtPrize, Michigan’s large art competition. The post is about an award to incent artists of color to participate, which raised some issues, but these paragraphs were the most interesting to me. They address the difference between making a cultural event like ArtPrize open to all, versus welcoming to all.

“Last year during ArtPrize I had a conversation that really stuck with me with artist Mel Chin, who was a juror for the Juried Grand Prize at the time. We got to talking about audiences and ArtPrize’s open and democratic approach to attracting them. He made a distinction that at first seemed minor, but I’ve since realized how crucial it is. He asked if we wanted ArtPrize to be for ‘anyone’ or for ‘everyone.’ An event for anyone is open and free of charge, there is no invite list, it’s not designed only for a special club, it’s for anyone who shows up. This is a pretty good way of describing ArtPrize’s approach from early on, and it has allowed for a huge and enthusiastic audience.

“Making ArtPrize an event for everyone, and not just anyone, is a little different. An event for everyone requires us to pay attention to who in the community feels welcome at an event for anyone and who doesn’t. Even when something is designed for anyone, some can still be excluded. The barriers aren’t intentional—they’re not velvet ropes and invite lists—but they’re still real. It’s a careful process of looking for ways to remove those barriers to build a welcoming event for everyone.”

(I couldn’t get a working link for this one, but if you want to read the whole post, go to www.artprize.org. The post is titled “Welcoming an Independent Award Celebrating Diversity,” and was posted on August 26, 2014.)

Placemaking isn’t only for the wealthy and educated, or doesn’t have to be. It isn’t just Whole Foods and the Fabulous Bistro Gastropub. Public space, public art, walkability, and recreational opportunities aren’t gated with a sign that says “your bank balance must be this high to enter.” That being said, there is an element of truth to the trickle-down, anyone or everyone criticism. Lots of placemaking, particularly the arts, implies exclusivity.

And, no matter how good the intention to include a variety of people, there is still power on one side that is not necessarily on the other. Someone still sets the agenda – and limits the diversity of opinions – by deciding who to invite, or using a structure that inhibits participation. A public meeting limits participation by how the meeting is advertised, time the meeting is held, and some factors that can’t be controlled by the meeting organizer. Self-selection by people who don’t feel they would have a voice, or who find such meetings intimidating, or who have work or child care issues. Everybody can’t be at the table, but they can contribute via a web site or other less direct means. When our mission is to have something for everybody, not just anybody, we need to figure out ways to hear from people using all the tools available for communication.


When all the usual suspects attend, and they’ve all read from the same playbook, do they make the leap to, for example, not just walkability but universal access? Who’s advocating making places that exceed Americans with Disability Act requirements to be more welcoming to people in wheelchairs – like heating sidewalks so they can be navigated in winter months?

Once you have an inclusive plan, how do you market a place to people you haven’t traditionally connected with – like telling a high school kid whose parent isn’t on the Grand Rapids Symphony’s mailing list about a Lord of the Rings concert? Once you find them, how do you help people get over feeling excluded or uncomfortable based on their previous experiences, or no experience at all? For someone who has never been to a symphony concert, would interest in Lord of the Rings music overcome apprehension about what to expect, or fitting in? Sometimes, being invited and welcomed isn’t enough to get over other hurdles.

The point of collaboration isn’t collaboration, it’s getting better results. Including other voices isn’t threatening, it’s an opportunity to make a community or project more effective. Ask non-traditional community members to participate. Listen when they talk. The high school kid, the council on aging, Goodwill, whoever represents non-white, non-middle class, non-able-bodied, non-30-to-55-year-olds. Take them seriously; without authority, there is no real collaboration. Focus on the mission. Have clear goals, but not predetermined outcomes. Work to get past individual agendas to make the core group a team. Decide who the target audience is or might include. Figure out what the needs are and whether they can be addressed. Let go of ownership and share authority. Facilitate connections. Evaluate and re-evaluate outcomes. Communicate through a range of media, not just newspaper announcements and government web sites. Don’t be the museum director who can’t figure out why his museum isn’t relevant.

As always, thanks for reading. If you’re not a subscriber and would like to be, you can sign up to receive blog posts by email by scrolling to the bottom of any page at www.ordinaryvirtues.com.

This post’s photos are from a British artist named Roy, and you can read about him and see more of his work at www.royspeople.com.

If you have a topic or idea that you think could make a great CEDAM blog post, please contact Brian McGrain at mcgrain@cedam.info.

Mayor and County Commissioners Recognition Day for National Service

Written by Stevie Chilcote, VISTA Leader

A Day of Recognition

Mayors and county commissioners stand out in the political spectrum as role models of good governance, creating networks and finding place-based solutions for the benefit of their communities.  In 1994, one of those solutions presented itself in AmeriCorps, and since then over one million people have served in an effort to create sustainable pathways to overcome local challenges.  On Tuesday, April 4, over four thousand mayors and county commissioners from across the country will unite to recognize the work done by AmeriCorps members for Mayors and County Commissioners Recognition Day for National Service.

What is AmeriCorps?

Many programs could not exist without the support of AmeriCorps members.  During a year of service, skilled people develop social media strategies, manage volunteers, teach financial literacy classes, educate students on nutrition, manage community gardens for the food bank and so much more.  Mayors are meant to develop networks for their communities and therefore recognize the vital network that AmeriCorps represents both as nationwide support for struggling organizations and a talent pipeline for the newly-minted professionals in their towns.

Who are AmeriCorps?

In more than 21,000 nonprofits and faith-based organizations across the country, over 80,000 AmeriCorps members are confronting local problems and challenges.  Elected officials are meant to develop interactive activities and networks for their community.  One member who exemplifies this is Kim Yost from Wayne Metro in Westland. When people are at a vulnerable point in their lives, she helps people feel comfortable and in control of their finances through financial literacy classes, and her manual has been shared with CEDAM members across the state of Michigan.

In Oceana County, where 34.71% of the population have only a high school diploma, Hannah Kostal is tackling education gaps by developing a college readiness program and a childhood literacy program.  An Oceana County resident, Hannah is passionate about education and works with the community foundation to help prepare students with the skills necessary to be successful.

VirgJoin the Recognition!

With over one million alumni, AmeriCorps members are everywhere!  Add your name and support for AmeriCorps here.  To find out more about CEDAM’s AmeriCorps programs, click here.

If you have a topic or idea that you think could make a great CEDAM blog post, please contact Brian McGrain at mcgrain@cedam.info.

Taxes Due Soon!

Written by Ross Yednock, Program Director of MEIC

calculator-428294_1920Are you still waiting to file your 2016 federal and state taxes? There is less than a month before they are due on Tuesday, April 18 (NOT the usual 15th). Make the call today to 2-1-1 or visit MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org to find a location near you where you can have your taxes prepared and filed by an IRS-certified volunteer.

Why use a free site?

First of all, you pay absolutely nothing! They are prepared and e-filed, all at no cost to you. What’s better than that?

Next, free tax sites are one of the best ways to ensure your taxes are prepared by a qualified and trained person. Michigan is one of the many states that has no requirements or regulations for paid tax preparers. That means that paid preparers in Michigan are not required to pass any exam, take any classes or prove their competency in any way at all. However, ALL volunteers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and AARP Tax Aide sites are required to pass an IRS certification test that ensures they are up-to-date in their understanding of the tax law and know how best to ensure you receive every tax credit you deserve.

tax-468440_1920Perhaps most importantly, every return that is prepared and filed at an IRS-sponsored free site is double-checked for accuracy and all of your personal and sensitive information is protected, secured and never used to sell you unnecessary services that eat away at your tax refund.

With free tax sites like those found at MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org, or by dialing 2-1-1, you can be assured that you are being taken care of by some of the best trained, and prepared, volunteer tax preparers that money cannot buy… because it’s free. Get it?

So don’t wait to get help… and DO pass this information along to others who may need help. While it may not always be the case in other walks of life, when it comes to tax preparation, sometimes the best things are free!

If you have a topic or idea that you think could make a great CEDAM blog post, please contact Brian McGrain at mcgrain@cedam.info.

Voices of AmeriCorps: Good Cents from Wayne Metro AmeriCorps Members

Written by the Corps Support Committee

program-logoCEDAM AmeriCorps members Kimberly Yost and Jael Cain of Wayne Metro Community Action Agency scored a major success for the financial health of their community by hosting two well-attended Show Me the Money Day Events this February. Serving as AmeriCorps members in the Michigan Financial Opportunities Corps, the two are tasked with bringing free financial education classes, VITA tax preparation programs and foreclosure prevention services to the Detroit Metro Area. This effort goes on throughout the year, but rose to a fever pitch February 3rd and 10th when Yost and Cain successfully hosted financial open houses serving more than 200 local residents.

Show Me the Money Day – a CEDAM initiative dating back to 2011 – annually leads dozens financial open-houses all across Michigan during the key tax season months of January and February. These events bring together financial educators, assistance programs, and service providers with the communities they serve to educate and empower local residents, promote free tax preparation services and raise awareness of community resources.

As CEDAM AmeriCorps members, Yost and Cain were asked to plan and execute one Show Me the Money Day Event in their area, but chose to go above and beyond by offering two events in February to allow a greater number of local residents the opportunity to attend. The first, held on February 3 at Jefferson Barns in Westland, Michigan, served over 70 participants. The second, held on February 10 at Northwest Activities Center in Detroit served an even more astounding 137 local residents.

Wayne Metro SMTMDBoth events brought together a cross section of community members, business, and non-profits including DTE Energy, Michigan Agency for Energy, Western Wayne Family Health Centers, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, No Veteran Left Behind, Garden City Community Center, Detroit Area Agency of Aging and a variety of local banks and credit unions. Classes, prizes and information drew participants through the busy events and explored financial skill building in credit usage, savings, banking, budgeting and the path to homeownership. The events served not only as an opportunity to better equip participants with knowledge for their financial futures, but also as a meeting point for local organizations to share programming, exchange ideas and connect with one another.

Thanks to the commitment and efforts of Yost, Cain and their community planning partners, Detroit residents are more knowledgeable, better prepared and more optimistic about their finances this spring.  “I am grateful for the genuine concern and efforts by WMCA staff to assist everyone,” said one participant. “They are so inspiring!” The same sentiment was echoed in the experience of all event participants who overwhelmingly hailed the events a useful experience. 89% of participants reported that they felt more hopeful about their financial future after having attended the events. Having spent months working towards just that outcome, Yost and Cain’s efforts have proven a roaring success. Their commitment to service and exemplary representation of the goals of CEDAM, Wayne Metro and AmeriCorps continue to empower and enact healthy financial lives in the city of Detroit.

Thank you Kimberly and Jael!

CEDAM hosts the Michigan Financial Opportunity Corps and the Rural Opportunity VISTA program AmeriCorps programs. We would like to thank the Corps Support Committee (Jennifer Tucker, Lily Fossel and Autumn Zywicki) for providing content to the Voices of AmeriCorps series.