LANSING, Mich., Sept. 15, 2022 — Ann Arbor-based Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW) will announce its plans for a $15 million dollar mission expansion, including a complete redesign of its Center. The organization is hosting a First Look: Design Reveal Party for the community today, Sept. 15, 5:30-8 p.m. The place-based effort will include recognition of nearby historic Black residential, business and community spaces as well as cultural heritage stories and land preservation efforts that uplift the stewardship of native and indigenous people who once lived on and cared for the land and Huron River just east of the property.
$10 million is slated to go toward land and building renovations, while $5 million will support expanded programming, operations and reserves.
“The redesigned center reflects NEW’s vital role in bringing diverse nonprofit leaders and their teams together,” said state Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield), who helped secure a $650,000 grant for the center in the 2022-23 state budget. “In the past few years, we’ve learned just how important in-person interaction is to facilitating the kinds of important conversations and work NEW will host in this renovated space — a space that honors and uplifts the reality of our shared Black and indigenous history. I look forward to the positive impact this will have on our community.”
NEW CEO, Yodit Mesfin Johnson, hopes that the redesigned space will nurture relationships in need of repair, create deeper partnerships, and facilitate ongoing support to nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations in the community. Ann Arbor is the eighth-most economically segregated metro area in the U.S., and nonprofits are often separated from one another by racial, class and power differences. Johnson hopes that the new center will aid in bridging these differences across identities and industries.
“We stand in solidarity and support all of our clients, partners and collaborators who are visioning real, sustained, justice-centered change. We are building upon the traditions and practices of care that Black and indigenous people have offered here for centuries. The reality is that Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County have become more stratified by race and class. Entire communities and cultures were erased and renamed. Local nonprofits are bearing the brunt of this. They’re never funded enough, and, unfortunately, competition and scarcity have become the norm in our industry,” Johnson said. “Building on NEW’s history, the new facilities will continue to be a hub of support for those who want to build trust, new futures and enduring change in our community. We’re honored to continue to support a diverse collection of bold, innovative people and organizations that are rethinking past practices and creating visionary new approaches both within distinct communities and as a broader society. We will persist until justice is real.”
Since 2020, NEW has hosted five community meetings to get input and guidance on its plans. Participants played a pivotal role in the design as well as determining how and where the stories of histories and communities will be told across public engagement as varied as art exhibitions, digital platforms and unique cultural gatherings in the new space and outdoors.
NEW’s original center, built on a junkyard in 1993, was an arts incubator with the goal of making the arts more accessible and stimulating economic development in downtown Ann Arbor. Over time, it has evolved into a hub that provides social justice-oriented nonprofits with the tools, services and support necessary to help them focus on mission-oriented work.