Sign up for our newsletter


Life Remodeled: Innovative solutions to help families and communities thrive

Written by Brooke Adams, director of Philanthropy, Life Remodeled

Life Remodeled repurposes vacant school buildings into one-stop hubs of opportunity for entire families to thrive. Each year we also repair owner-occupied homes by providing hard-working families with the options to receive a new roof, furnace, or windows free of charge, and we mobilize thousands of volunteers to remove blight and beautify four-square miles in only six days.

The Durfee Innovation Society (DIS) is located in the former Durfee Elementary-Middle School, and we’ve moved in 39 of the best and brightest organizations from around the region to provide tons of opportunities to Detroiters.

We’ve always believed that the participation of students and their families is critical to the success of our neighborhood revitalization work, and, at the DIS, the partnership we have with Durfee Elementary-Middle School and Central High School drives a lot of the programming featured in the building. Therefore, at the onset of the pandemic, we wanted to connect with students in ways that would keep them engaged at the DIS. Our initial efforts were around a Safe Center for Online Learning (SCOL) where over 40 students joined us in-person for more than six months, using our building as a safe space to focus on their virtual learning– complete with meals and snacks as well as the supervision and support of volunteers who helped with homework and planned extra enrichment activities in our gym and arcade. Because of the success of this program, we were determined to keep innovating in order to continue increasing access to opportunities for youth, as the opportunity gap for Detroit students continued to widen as a result of the educational challenges related to the pandemic.

In 2021, with $50,000 of support from The Children’s Foundation, we rolled out our Pop-up Programming at the DIS – a series of after-school activities hosted five days per week. Over the course of 8 weeks, we partnered with groups like Accelerate4Kids, LAHC and Mad Science in order to serve more than 100 students in programs like robotics, comic book/video game design, cooking and nutrition, and math and science enrichment.

In addition to the enrichment programs, the students also played in the arcade we have in the building, making the experience extra fun!

The goal of the pop-up programs was not only to provide additional enrichment for the students, but also to inform even more students about the various programs our 39 tenants have available to them and their families year-round. As a result of the Pop-up Programming, dozens of students have enrolled in additional programs at the DIS, and, because of the support of The Children’s Foundation and so many others, we will continue to serve even more students and families at the DIS and throughout Detroit!

Help us improve the health and wellness of more children and families.

You can help us reach more children and families by making a gift to The Children’s Foundation. Click here to make your gift.

Bill and Lisa Ford Launch $10 Million+ Endowment Campaign to Foster Brighter Futures for Detroit Region’s Youth

Donor Story: Community honors lifetime philanthropist John G. Levy through Child Life endowment

Partner Highlight: Child Life Services and the importance of philanthropy