Detroit Biodiversity Network wins 2019 Ford College Community Challenge Award

Sustainable Landscape Collaborative will address flooding in Detroit through green infrastructure with the Detroit Future City Working with Lots program

The Detroit Biodiversity Network (DBN), a student-led sustainability-focused organization at Wayne State University has been awarded a 2019 Ford College Community Challenge Award from the Ford Motor Company Fund to carry out and expand its Sustainable Landscape Collaborative program in partnership with community-based non-profit organization Detroit Future City (DFC).

This one-year, $25,000 award will support greenhouse upgrades and the training of Wayne State University students from diverse backgrounds as DBN Fellows, gaining expertise in native plant propagation, sustainable landscape practices, and green stormwater infrastructure design and management. DBN Fellows will work closely with community partners in DFC's Working with Lots program, which provides nearly $100,000 in grants annually to help Detroiters implement sustainable lot designs from the organization's Field Guide to Working with Lots instructional book.

The DBN Fellows will assist DFC's grantees in growing native plants for their projects, as well as provide site design, installation, and technical assistance to partners and volunteers. "Detroit Future City is excited to partner with Wayne State students to provide native Michigan perennials to the community for Working with Lots projects, and spread knowledge and awareness about the importance of stormwater management and vacant land re-use in Detroit," said Sarah Hayosh, director of land use and sustainability for Detroit Future City.

Chronic flooding in Detroit and its surrounding suburbs will continue to worsen with the impacts of climate change, causing increased risk within communities for chronic health conditions and infectious diseases especially among the most vulnerable. "This project builds on existing hydrology and flooding research at Wayne State conducted by researchers networked through the Healthy Urban Waters program" said Carol Miller,Ph.D., director of Healthy Urban Waters. Green stormwater infrastructure such as bioswales and rain gardens can help alleviate these health risks by diverting stormwater from the combined sewer system to decrease flooding.

"Education and community engagement are important cornerstones of Ford Fund's mission to strengthen communities and make people's lives better," said Farah Harb, Global Education Analyst for Ford Fund. "The students participating in this unique program will learn what leadership is all about as they develop essential skills to help the city continue moving forward in the future." Students and community members interested in learning more about fellowship and volunteer opportunities with the Detroit Biodiversity Network can email for more information on how to get involved.

About Detroit Biodiversity Network

The Detroit Biodiversity Network (DBN) is a student-led native plant nursery and sustainable landscape collaborative founded by Wayne State University students. DBN engages students from across the university in educational workshops on urban sustainability topics, hands-on training in the Science Hall greenhouse, and sustainability-focused landscape design projects on the campus of Wayne State and in surrounding Detroit communities. For more information, visit or follow us @detroitbiodiversitynetwork on Instagram.

About Detroit Future City

Detroit Future City (DFC) is a nonprofit organization that plays a crucial role in Detroit as an independent think tank, policy advocate and innovation engine focused on the future of the city and the implementation of strategies that advance the recommendations laid out in the DFC Strategic Framework. Working with Lots is a program that financially supports the installation, activation, and maintenance of Field Guide designs paired with comprehensive technical assistance. For more information, visit

About Healthy Urban Waters

Healthy Urban Waters (HUW) is a collaboration of Wayne State University researchers networked with the community to focus on water in an urban setting and future impacts of human culture on community, ecosystem, and economic health. For more information, visit

About Ford Motor Company Fund

As the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund's mission is to strengthen communities and help make people's lives better. Working with dealers and nonprofit partners in 63 countries, Ford Fund provides access to opportunities and resources that help people reach their full potential. Since 1949, Ford Fund has invested more than $2 billion in programs that support education, promote safe driving, enrich community life and encourage employee volunteering. For more information, visit or join us at @FordFund on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Ford College Community Challenge

Through the Ford College Community Challenge, Ford Motor Company Fund aims to support colleges and universities as they work with students to design and develop tangible community projects that address critical local needs in new ways, with a focus on helping the community become a more sustainable place to work and live.

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