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The second round of The Detroit News Holiday Cheer for Charity begins at noon Dec. 14 and continues through noon Dec. 28.

The second round is a call for donations for five finalists selected by The News: Brilliant Detroit, FOCUS Detroit, Detroit Dog Rescue, Mercy Education Project and Southwest Solutions. The organization to raise the most funds in this round will be awarded a $20,000 grand prize from The Detroit News.

All five finalists will keep the money they raise, with one adding the $20,000 prize. Be sure to show your support for your favorite on social media and tag us in your posts. 

For more information on how to participate, visit DetroitNews.com/HolidayCheer.

Here is some information the finalists provided about their respective efforts:

Brilliant Detroit 

This organization was created in 2015 to provide a “radically new approach to kindergarten readiness in neighborhoods,” according to its website.

Cindy Eggleton, co-founder and CEO, says: “Brilliant Detroit is dedicated to building ...  neighborhoods where families with children 0-8 have what they need to be school ready, healthy and stable.”

She said only 14 percent of Detroit students read at grade level by third grade, and 60 percent live in poverty.

“Our children deserve better, so we created a radically new service delivery model to build a better future for our kids and families,” she said.

Brilliant Detroit partners with over 80 organizations to provide quality, evidence-based programs out of homes in the middle of neighborhoods.

“Three years in, we operate (four) houses, and serve over 3,000 people. We work 'with, for and by' neighbors, meaning that we only enter communities when we are invited, actively solicit feedback throughout programming, and make sure that these programs directly support kid and family goals,” Eggleton said.

Asked why her charity is worthy of support, she said, “Our work has shown that a distribution model located deep in neighborhoods that assures literacy, well-being, support, and fellowship will draw people in and transform lives.

"Because we work with existing services in a coordinated and continuous way, this model is impactful and inexpensive, and therefore scalable throughout the City of Detroit and beyond. We believe that this model can change the world and, with support, we can provide evidence-based programs in more Detroit communities.”

Detroit Dog Rescue

It is the only no-kill shelter in Detroit, said Kristina Rinaldi, Executive Director of the group, which also offers free spay and neuter opportunities at its vaccination clinics.

“We work hard to save the homeless, neglected, abused, and abandoned animals in Detroit,” she said. “Most of these cases are the worst Detroit has seen.”

Rinaldi said dogs who come to DDR are often socially and sensory deprived and require rehabilitation. Detroit Dog Rescue also connects with residents to increase owner retention and provide the resources that keep pets happy, healthy and in their homes.

Since its inception in 2011, Detroit Dog Rescue has visited dozens of Detroit Public School classrooms to educate students in grades K-12 about proper pet ownership to combat animal abuse. In 2015 the group worked with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to overturn Detroit Animal Control, a dilapidated building where hundreds of animals were suffering.

“At the time over 97 percent of the animals at Detroit's Animal Control were being euthanized,” Rinaldi said.

An animal welfare committee was created to bring about new changes at the municipal shelter including educated leadership, live release transfers, and with help of volunteers, an adoption program which significantly reduced the city's euthanasia rate.

Over 82 percent of the group’s funding is from public support, she said.

Detroit Dog Rescue will be moving into a new building at the end of 2019, she said, adding “the gifts we receive will be used to update the facility with modern amenities to and state of the art resources to broaden our outreach to residents and set the dogs of Detroit on the right path to adoption success.”

FOCUS Detroit

It's a local nonprofit organization that connects communities with kids in need to help them succeed in school, according to its director Eric J. Shanburn.

“Through our partnership with elementary and middle schools (public, charter and private) we address the important issues of food insecurity, illiteracy, and lack of basic resources needed to be successful at school,” Shanburn said. “We conduct a number of need-specific drives with businesses, churches, schools and civic organizations throughout the year, as well as service project opportunities in Detroit for individuals and groups as well.”

He noted how out of the 50 largest cities in America, Detroit has the highest rate of childhood poverty (nearly 60 percent) and that in areas of concentrated poverty it is well over 90 percent.

“The money received from this fundraiser will help us address all the requests from schools and from community partners that we are not currently able to fulfill due to our need for more program staff, space and transportation,” Shanburn said. “Winning the grand prize will help us impact thousands of more kids in need.”

Mercy Education Project

Mercy empowers women and girls in Detroit through education, according to Janette Phillips, director of development and major gifts.

“We are passionate about opening doors of opportunity through education to over 250 girls and women in Detroit every year,” Phillips said.

She said the Mercy Education Project provides “intensive, one-on-one tutoring, college readiness, STEM summer camp, GED prep, workforce development, transportation, food and childcare assistance — guiding our ladies toward academic excellence and a fulfilling life post-MEP programs, all at no cost (to them)."

“We believe strongly that women can break the cycle of poverty through education, for themselves and for their children,” she said.

If MEP wins the $20,000 gift, it will be used to support its ongoing transportation expenses for its two vehicles. Phillips notes the biggest barrier to attending MEP is transportation because most of the women do not own cars and cannot afford bus passes.

“We have found that when we get our women to MEP for school each day, they learn and thrive,” she said. “Without the free, MEP transportation, these women would have no way to attend classes and earn their GED certificate."

Southwest Solutions' 

It's website describes it as one of Detroit's most impactful nonprofits, serving more than 10,000 people every year. Founded in 1970 as a community mental health agency, its programs include neighborhood and community development, affordable and supportive housing, services for the homeless and veterans, job training, financial counseling and home ownership opportunities, minority small business programs, adult literacy, and resident engagement.

"Our charity provides critical services to children, families and veterans during some of their most challenging times," said Steve Ragan, senior vice president for development and external relations for Southwest Solutions. "But we also offer literacy, job training, homebuyer and other programs that create an opportunity for individuals to improve their circumstances." 

If Southwest Solution wins the $20,000 prize, "We will use these funds to support some of our most urgent programs, including support to end homelessness and help support our community's veterans," Ragan said.  

Vote now at DetroitNews.com/HolidayCheer.

 

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