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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

August 23, 2023

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

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March, 2023

The Racial Wealth Gap at the Low End of the Mortgage Distribution: Evidence from SmallestDollar Mortgage Lending in Metro Detroit

Read Paper »
See all White Papers »

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