Lula Singleton and Tracy Smith celebrating Lula’s completion of the Pilot Buy Back Program.
(Photo courtesy of Central Detroit Christian)
They’ve had roots in their community from the start: “Our staff all live in the neighborhood. It’s a criterion to work here,” says CDC’s Founder Lisa Johanon. “We don’t view the people who come here and need our services as clients or customers, but as neighbors and friends.”
CDC fulfills its mission of demonstrating leadership and helping individuals reach their highest potential through education and employment programs for people of all ages.
“The goal is to offer comprehensive service to our community,” says Johanon. To promote business development, they also started a construction company, medical center, daycare, laundromat, and produce market.
Changing the Trajectory with a Childhood Literacy Program
In everything it does, CDC aims to pave the way for a brighter future. One way they accomplish this is with a childhood literacy program to help children read at grade level.
“Only 4.4 percent of children in third grade in Detroit’s 48206 zip code are reading at a third-grade level,” she says. “The detrimental impact that has on children’s lives is like a tsunami. We had to become laser-focused in our efforts to help them reach that third-grade reading level.”
They’ve made great strides in this area, says Johanon: In 2021, nearly 75 percent of the children in their program increased their reading level.
Adjusting During the Pandemic
“We’ve evolved a lot,” says Johanon about the organization’s response to the pandemic. “We shut many of our programs down for three months initially, but we’ve seen a slow and steady growth back.”
Some classes, such as their financial literacy and homebuyer classes, moved online. Other services, including their in-facility preschool and medical center, were temporarily closed in 2020, but are back up and running now. Housing and several of CDC’s other businesses continued uninterrupted through the pandemic.
Despite these challenges, Johanon is excited to share an economic development success: “This past year, every business of ours broke even or was profitable.”
Johanon says the nonprofit couldn’t accomplish everything it does without an army of volunteers and the help of organizations like Huntington, which has provided ongoing support to help them build up the community.
“Huntington has not only provided financial support but also taken a strong interest in our business development and GED program and participates in the home buyer education and credit counseling classes that CDC offers,” she says.
At the end of 2020, the nonprofit turned to Huntington for help refinancing. Saving money on mortgage payments each month enabled the nonprofit to continue throughout the pandemic, Johanon says.
“We are anchored here, and we’re an anchor for our community,” says Johanon. “Despite COVID-19, despite hardship, we’re open. And we’re thankful that Huntington allows us to be able to do that.”
About the OrganizationName: Central Detroit Christian
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Mission: To empower individuals to reach their highest potential while transforming the community to be a place of Shalom.
How you can help: To arrange individual or group volunteer opportunities, donate funding or gifts in kind, and review list of needed items visit CDC’s website or call (313) 873-0064.