DETROIT -

As a continuation of an effort to clean blighted properties near school buildings, the Detroit Fire Department is partnering with the Osborn Collegiate Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology Youth Violence Prevention Team to board more than 20 abandoned homes and fire-damaged structures on Saturday.

To kick-off the blight elimination effort, more than 300 students and concerned citizens will gather Saturday for a town hall meeting and rally including breakfast, student workshops, a presentation from Barbara L. Jones, Community Dispute Resolution Specialist with Wayne State University, on "The Effect of Deplorable Conditions on Student Achievement," a youth-led rally and march, and will conclude with the Detroit Fire Department and community volunteers boarding and cleaning blighted properties in the half-mile radius of the Osborn High School campus.

Event Details:

  • 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, November 23, 2013 at the Osborn High School campus, 11600 E. 7 Mile Rd.
  • 8 a.m.: Welcome 300-plus guests; Continental Breakfast
  • 9 a.m.:  Two workshops will be provided for students. Firefighter Gary Ringer will present on the dangers of fire-damaged properties. Andrea Jackson, Osborn Collegiate Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology College Transitions Advisor, will lead a workshop on restorative leadership development.
  • 10 a.m.: A town hall meeting will be held in the auditorium with a presentation on "The Effect of Deplorable Conditions on Student Achievement." Student leaders will also share how they are affected by abandoned homes and blight in their community.
  • 11 a.m.: Youth-led rally and march will commence. Participants will march up Rowe St. and cross over Hoover St. to Albion St. These are areas with blighted properties that were selected by students to be boarded and cleaned.
  • 12 p.m.: Volunteers will begin cleaning/boarding more than 20 abandoned properties on Albion, Rowe and Annott streets, which are properties hand-picked by students because they must walk by these structures daily going to and from school.

Partnering organizations include the Detroit Fire Department, Detroit Fireman's Fund, AmeriCorps Governor & Mayor Initiative Urban Safety Corps Program, a unique public-private partnership that utilizes 36 AmeriCorps members as catalysts to mobilize and recruit community volunteers to join them in improving public safety in targeted Detroit neighborhoods, Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, Conscious Communities and a host of others.

The event is the culmination of a month-long project to clean blighted properties near school buildings that began on Saturday, Oct. 26 near the Cody High School campus, where 20 blighted properties in the area were also cleaned and boarded.

The overall effort corresponds with enhanced safety measures across Detroit Public Schools, including a program to add hundreds of Citizens Patrol teams to the district's Safe Routes Program. A new target of 14 key school zones, including the Cody and Osborn areas, was announced in early August as part of the district's five-year Strategic Plan.

Speakers at the rally will include:

  • Quincy Jones, Executive Director of the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance
  • Patrice Lambert, Osborn Collegiate Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology Parent Advisory Council on Student Achievement (PACSA)
  • Frank McGhee, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Service Organization
  • Martin McClung, Detroit Firefighter-Engine Co. 53
  • Gary Ringer, Detroit Firefighter-Engine Co. 55
  • Student Gregory Thomas, Osborn Collegiate Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology Youth Violence Prevention Team President

Students, parents and community stakeholders are invited to join the effort and help clean the abandoned properties surrounding the school. In addition to boarding abandoned homes, the group will also clean brush and debris in the area and cut down tall grassy fields.

"I'm very happy the block I live on Rowe St. is getting cleaned up," said Osborn, Collegiate Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology 11th grade student Daishawn Dearing. "To see a clean, beautiful neighborhood makes me feel good, and when you feel good you do good. I thank everyone for helping us clean up our neighborhood."

In early August, Detroit Public Schools announced a broad expansion of its Citizens Patrol programs to vastly increase Safe Routes for Detroit children and their families going to and from school.

The expanded citizens patrols, which are part of a comprehensive, multi-agency program that has helped already to spur a sharp reduction in incidents, was one of the first initiatives to be implemented under the district's new comprehensive five-year Strategic Plan.

The additional volunteers will build upon highly active men's patrol groups now watching routes and bus stops near the Cody High School campus, where Brothers on Patrol has a presence, and the Osborn High School campus, where MADE Men patrol. The M.A.N. Network also patrols several DPS schools.

Those interested in volunteering should call 313-748-6008.