DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district has endured a myriad of challenges from corruption, to low academic performance and negative perceptions.

But, as WWJ’s Stephanie Davis reports, efforts to raise money for students by a separate foundation are going fairly well.

The Detroit Public Schools Foundation has raised millions of dollars that have gone directly to helping students.

The Foundation really got started with their fundraising efforts about two years ago and has since raised over $3 million.

Chacona Johnson, President of the Foundation, explained the money can only go towards three different areas: early childhood education, fine and performing Arts and something known as STEM.

“STEM activity, which is science, technology, engineering and math, because that’s so important to future jobs and future education,” Johnson said.

Although the funds go directly to DPS students, Johnson wants the public to know the Foundation is not run by the district.

“We are a separate 501c3 organization. We’re not part of DPS, we’re run separate with a separate board, and that gives us a great deal of flexibility,” Johnson said.

And the Foundation recently got a huge boost from Sodexo School Services, who donated $1 million to support enrichment programs and activities for DPS students. The funds will be given over a two-year period beginning in May 2011 and ending in September 2013.

“They are working with us in a partnership to help develop programs and supporting some current programs that may no longer exist. And the first program that we’re going to support out of that money is An Evening of Fine Art,” Johnson said.

An Evening of Fine Arts is at 6:30 pm, June 9th at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. The event features dance and music performances by hundreds of DPS students.

“I want everyone to know that we’re a good steward of the money and that the money is invested back into the students and their wellbeing,” Johnson said.

For more information on the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, visit


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