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Posted on Sun, May 29, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Ann Arbor nonprofits, universities, businesses can help reinvent Detroit public school system

By Nathan Bomey

Ann Arbor-based think tank Michigan Future is not interested in anti-public-school demagoguery or pro-union rhetoric.


Michigan Future President Lou Glazer

Michigan Future is busy pursuing innovative new answers to revitalize Detroit’s distressed public school system.

The nonprofit group is using $13 million in grant funding to help launch eight new college preparatory high schools.

One, Detroit Edison Public School Academy High School, opened in fall 2010. Four more — including the Dr. Benjamin Carson High School of Science & Medicine and Cornerstone Health High School — will open in fall 2011.

Of the eight schools, five will be operated as charter schools and three as part of the Detroit public school system.

Eight is just a start. Michigan Future President Lou Glazer wants to open 35 over the next eight years.

“We don’t care if they’re charter schools or public schools,” Glazer said. “We’re trying to create brand new high-quality high schools with a goal that kids will leave high school ready for college.”

But it’s not just Ann Arbor nonprofits that can contribute toward the redesign of Detroit public schools.

Private companies like Ann Arbor-based information technology consultancy Dynamic Edge are helping, too.


Sean Lynn, who works at Dynamic Edge’s Ann Arbor office, volunteers at the Detroit Institute of Technology’s Cody High School. Here, he lets students disassemble his laptop and put it back together.

Photo courtesy of Dynamic Edge

Ann Arbor has role to play in Detroit's revitalization

Once a week, Dynamic Edge sends employees to volunteer at the Detroit Institute of Technology’s Cody High School, which was closed a few years ago in the wake of dismal graduation rates.

Now, Dynamic Edge employees are customizing their own curriculum, teaching students skills like how to find a job on the Internet, how to conduct research online or how to clean viruses off of a computer.

“We are a very democratic, compassionate culture in Ann Arbor,” Dynamic Edge’s Bryan Emmendorfer said in an email. “Most of us want to see turnaround in Detroit. But too many of us make judgments and brainstorm solutions from our couches. Electing officials to throw money at these problems isn’t enough. We need to throw ourselves into the mix.”

He added: “Just like our culture is sometimes missing perspective, so is the culture in Detroit. Many of the kids we work with at Cody never see outside their neighborhoods. I think the businesses need to step up. Employees are willing to contribute if the opportunities are put in front of them.”

Bruce McCully, who founded Dynamic Edge and still leads the company, said companies can “be an ambassador” for Detroit.

“I think the answer is we can pick off little things and champion them and share some of our resources, whether they’re talent or capital or ideas with the folks of Detroit and really see what we can do to help out,” he said.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Mon, May 30, 2011 : 7:15 a.m.

Hollywood is full of true inspirational teacher stories where children from troubled homes enjoy the best parts of their day in school. Kids can't pick their parents, and for those who think the before and after school programs are a waste of money and a giant handout, well, guess what? Pay now or pay later. Give these kids a chance to succeed even if it means providing three meals a day and study sessions after school and on weekends. How much does it cost to provide three meals per day versus supporting a prisoner or a single mother with children? Look long term. I am not talking about teachers doing all this - community must be involved. Something needs to change to break the cycle of failure so Detroit can prosper again.