Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Hatching leadership and retail across Detroit

Nov. 30, 2011, noon, Posted by Rishi Jaitly

hatchdetroit

Hatch Detroit's co-founders Nick Gorga and Ted Balowski

If we Detroiters are passionate about our city and eager to engage in our community, how do we go about simply - and fully - unlocking our collective energy? It’s a question we at Knight Foundation ponder and work on everyday as we pursue our mission of informed and engaged communities.

Today, with this question in mind, we’re delighted to announce a grant $50,000 grant to Hatch Detroit, a non-profit that engages Detroiters through retail entrepreneurship contests.

If you’re reading this piece, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of Hatch: in the last few months, Hatch conducted its inaugural retail entrepreneurship contest and affirmed that a great number of Detroiters want to themselves lead local economic renewal. More than 200 Detroiters submitted ideas for a retail business they’d like to open in Detroit; the list included wine bars, tea houses, apparel shops, and home accessory stores. After two rounds of public voting, and more than 65,000 votes cast, Hatch announced the winning $50,000 prize would go to Hugh, a contemporary gift shop for men.

Hatch Detroit is now set to engage more Detroiters and “hatch” more retail across the city.

But what’s the untold story here? From our vantage point, it’s citizen leadership.

Following the lead of Hatch Detroit’s impressive founders, a wide range of individuals and institutions have stepped up as donors to the organization and as champions of many of the retail ideas that have been submitted by creative Detroiters. Knight Foundation’s support will ensure that Hatch Detroit is able to extend its footprint, grow its citizen network, and fully empower the many Detroiters who seek to engage in their community by supporting, nurturing, and - as Hatch puts it - “shepherding” small businesses across the city. In addition to voting in the contests to come, Hatch Detroit’s network will champion the success of small businesses across the city in big and small ways: as mentors, as lenders, as conveners, and more.

We congratulate Hatch on its success to date and look forward to together advancing Knight Foundation’s work in Detroit to create an environment where Detroiters flourish and self-identify as leaders.

- By Rishi Jaitly, program director/Detroit at Knight Foundation

The full press release announcing Knight's grant to Hatch Detroit is available online.