U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell has secured $14 million in federal funding for Washtenaw County community services and granted $550,000 to Eastern Michigan University.
EMU will receive about $250,000 for prisoner reentry services, the Returning Citizen Fellows Program, and nearly $300,000 for their early childhood education services, the Collaborative Child Development Center.
“Local leaders in our cities and towns are working every day to improve the lives of their neighbors and strengthen our communities, and it’s our federal government’s job to support them,” Dingell said in a written statement. “With this investment of nearly $14 million divided among ten critical local projects, we will give community organizations the support they need to create real, lasting change.”
EMU launched its Returning Citizen Fellows Program in January 2021. The program aims to remove barriers to college education for the formerly incarcerated. This funding will support the program by expanding the number of people served.
"EMU Social Work students work with local nonprofits to help the clients access housing, trauma-informed care, mental health and substance abuse services, job training, and anything else they might need upon their return," Jennifer Kellman Fritz, professor and director of EMU’s School of Social Work, said.
The Collaborative Child Development Center is also a recipient of the community project funding. Melissa Thrasher, the director of media relations at EMU, said that the collaborative was launched by Engage@EMU several years ago and is run by the YMCA to provide care for the children of EMU students and others in the community.
“The funding will support staff and equipment to expand services to infants and evening care, scholarships for low-income families, and training for individuals to earn their childcare development certificate,” Thrasher said in a written statement.
All the projects receiving this funding will provide essential services in the community.
“Both of these projects reflect EMU's strategic priority to engage and serve our university and surrounding regional communities,” Thrasher said.
These two projects are a part of Dingell’s community project funding, which includes other Michigan community projects located in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and other parts of the 12th Congressional District.