Our approach to promoting racial equity in Washtenaw County is founded on community engagement and data research. Programs and initiatives, like the EmpowerMENt Fund, the Community Scholarship Program, and our many intersectional partnerships with local nonprofit groups and community organizations, have been designed in response to reports from the Pew Research Center, Michigan School Data, Citizens For Racial Equity, and Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED), among others as research continues.

AAACF recognizes the economic, social, health, and educational inequities that exist in Washtenaw County, particularly for Black and African-American males. Research from the Pew Research Center identified our community as the 8th most economically segregated metropolitan region in the country and the Washtenaw County OCED reported that 60% of African-Americans in Washtenaw County live in low-opportunity areas.

College readiness data on black males

According to the MI School Data site, the data reveals that for the Washtenaw County graduating class of 2018-19, only 16% of Black and African American males meet the benchmark for college readiness compared to 53% of all males who meet the benchmark. Likewise, for Black men that enroll in college, 27% require remedial coursework in math compared to only 13% of all students. These and other circumstances elongate the educational journey and delay graduation as compared to peers, which limits future economic opportunity where you have less years to try and accomplish what others already have a head start on.

According to the Race For Justice Report by Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw, Black people in our county account for 98% of the people of color charged by prosecutors in serious capital felony cases and 99% of the people of color charged in non-capital felony cases. However, just 52% of people of color in Washtenaw County identify as Black. With a disproportionate number of Black people (and specifically Black men) entering the criminal justice system from our community, we know it is extremely difficult from them to find viable employment and educational success upon their release, without support from the community.

We recognize that data collected from reports represent individual people and we are committed to hearing from those impacted by these factors and, rather than speaking on their behalf, provide a space for everyone to contribute their ideas and experiences in their own voices. We truly put our money where our mouth is when we say we want EVERYONE to have a seat at our table.

EmpowerMENt Fund

The vision and purpose of the EmpowerMENt Fund is to empower and support young Black men and boys in Washtenaw County. Originally seeded with $1M by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, the fund has grown with broad support to accomplish this fund purpose: to support efforts that uplift young Black males in Washtenaw County while promoting their educational success.

We heard time and again through our partnership with Washtenaw My Brother’s Keeper that Black young men aspire to be professionally and personally successful, want to be economically secure to support their current and future families, and want very much to contribute to broader community success and well-being.

Formula 734 Album Cover

Our current systemic deficit is not reflective of the strengths, assets, and ongoing contributions of young Black men in our community and yet the inequitable outcomes persist. We would like to be part of community efforts and solutions seeking to change these inequitable outcomes.

Listen to Formula 734, a musical expression of the hopes, dreams, desires, concerns, and fears that young men experience that the WMBK project produced.

Community Scholarship Program

CSP Progress Report 2022

AAACF’s Community Scholarship Program provides economically disadvantaged, youth of color, and first-generation college students with financial assistance and holistic support as they transition to college and navigate their way toward degree attainment.

The Community Scholarship Program was carefully designed based on research and a close partnership with Washtenaw Futures, the local college access network hosted by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College are also important partners in our efforts. Local data from Washtenaw Futures confirmed national findings that economically disadvantaged, youth of color, and first-generation college students often do not have access to the resources needed to thrive at college. In addition to the scholarship (up to $20,000 disbursed over up to 5 years), the Community Scholarship Program provides students with a College Success Coach and access to an Emergency Aid & Financial Assistance Program. The College Success Coach offers students encouragement, academic guidance, assistance accessing resources and making on campus connections, social and emotional support, and help understanding financial aid.

African American Endowment Fund

Established in 1993 by former AAACF Trustees Willis Patterson, Barbara Meadows and Joe Dulin, the African American Endowment Fund was created to improve the physical, economic, social and educational conditions that affect the quality of life for African Americans in the Ann Arbor area.