UPDATE: The Hudson-Webber Foundation will be evaluating and reflecting on the 15×15 initiative throughout 2015. In the meantime, the Foundation is continuing to award grants to organizations and projects aligned with place-based talent attraction and retention in Greater Downtown Detroit.
The single best predictor of a region’s economic health and prosperity is the proportion of adults with a four-year degree or more. 15×15 is a shared vision to attract 15,000 young, talented households to Greater Downtown Detroit by 2015. Although sometimes referred to as a talent strategy, 15×15 is much more a place-based strategy, working in a targeted geography to make it the kind of place young talent wants to be. By focusing on talent attraction and retention, ultimately issues that are a critical to achieving that end goal arise – housing, jobs and business opportunities, retail and third places, and safety and perceived safety.
Currently Michigan is 34th in the country in proportion of adults with a 4-year degree, with Detroit and other urban cores specifically fairing poorly. When comparing this statistic with the realization that there are not only seven higher learning institutions within 90 miles of Detroit, but that 70% of college graduates are moving to urban centers, the questions must be asked, “whose cities are they building?” and “how do we compete for that talent?”
- The “Greater Downtown Detroit” focus area is bordered by New Center to the north, Eastern Market to the east, the Riverfront to the south, and Corktown to the west.
- 15×15 relies upon stakeholders and partners playing crucial roles in the development of the future of Detroit – government, philanthropy, nonprofits, business leaders, entrepreneurs and individuals.
- “Young, Talented Detroiters” is intended to include all who bring a vitality and talent to Detroit. However, for purposes of measuring success, the Foundation is tracking college graduates under the age of 35 as the “young” and “talented,” as they are more mobile, urban inclined and entrepreneurial.
- 15×15 also seeks to promote equity by creating employment opportunities, engaging in workforce preparation and education programs, and improving safety for existing Detroit residents.
- Pursuing the 15×15 Strategy is in lock-step with the way the Foundation has worked historically through its existing mission areas: Physical Revitalization, Economic Development, Arts, and Safe Community. The Strategy does, however, provide greater geographic and results-oriented focus for the Foundation’s programming.