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Center for Equitable Family & Community Well-Being

Redefining University-Community Engagement

In a dynamic, post-industrial multi-cultural society, it is easy for systems and policies to evolve in such a way that they become misaligned. Similarly, with a history of racism and growing class divides, some families and communities receive inadequate attention and investment and find themselves disconnected from the resources and opportunities of their surrounding economy. Successful responses are not easy or guaranteed, but there are occasions when policymakers make an appropriate fix or when grassroots leaders and local champions rally around a promising strategy. The goal of the Center for Equitable Family and Community Well-Being is to encourage and support such win-win efforts by connecting the resources and intellectual strength of the University of Michigan with the passion and social capital of community leaders.

Most importantly, families and communities will be at the heart of our work. The primary criteria for any project work will be that it explicitly improve the well-being of families and/or communities and reduce existing inequities. 

Although there are many partnerships and models of engaged research that take place between the University and external individuals or groups, the work is often disconnected, especially as they show up in the Detroit metropolitan area. The methodology introduced here will be intentional about connecting other U of M centers and initiatives around Center projects and associated goals.

Trina Shanks
Professor and Director, Center for Equitable Family & Community Well-Being

Core Values

  • Impact through economic empowerment
  • Impact through results
  • Impact through relationship and resource collaboration


  • To amplify ideas that empower families and communities to thrive.


  • Our Center's mission is to foster equitable distribution of power and resources by utilizing collaborative relationships, innovative practices, and community approaches. We engage intentionally with communities, empowering them to drive the process, working towards creating a more equitable society.

White Paper Series

A Guide for Detroiters: Up to $45k to Buy a Home & Which Lenders Close Those Loans

August 23, 2023

David Palmer, Patrick Meehan, Alex Hill, Aaron Deakins, Roshaun Harris, Michael Kloc

The City of Detroit's down payment assistance (DPA) program makes available up to $25,000 to support Detroiters seeking to purchase a home in the city. This short guide details how Detroit residents can access the city's DPA funds, and details options to "stack" DPA from other sources to yield up to $45,000 to purchase a home. The city has highlighted 13 mortgage lenders as participating in the program. Analyzing Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, lender performance and volume of originations is discussed so that buyers can be better informed of lender performance before applying for a mortgage. The paper also details information helpful to finding a home when properties with condition challenges, and limited availability in buyer-desired locations, constrain the supply of home options available for purchase.

See all White Papers »

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