Detroit Community Education Commission

Industry Education, Nonprofits, Parent Advocacy
Communities Engaged Parents, Education Leaders, School Systems, Human Service Agency Staff, Nonprofit Organization Leaders, Foundation Representatives, Intermediary Leaders, Representatives of the Mayor’s Office, Parent-facing Messengers, including: Librarians, Social Workers, Dentists, Public Health Workers, etc.

EarlyWorks produced an accurate and helpful schools guide designed with Detroit parents to build support for Detroit schools because more and better information is available for parents.

We built a paper printed guide (with an online searchable companion) that contains information about every K-12 school in Detroit. This was printed in July 2018 for an initial run of 8,000 copies. The guide is based on information 156 parents identified as important for choosing a school. The guide also contains information about school selection, key dates, and other essential resources. Companion materials have also been developed to assist with summer outreach and to drive parents to the guide online and/or in print.  

A ground team comprised of parent ambassadors helped inform the design of the guide and what was included in it. Forty people were trained to conduct outreach to key messengers and other parents.

We used paid social media and advertising to build general awareness and reinforce the availability of the guide. The ground team attended summer events for Detroit parents and joined partner organizations to disseminate materials through block club parties, district meetings, and other neighborhood events.


  • Our parent/caregiver-driven approach ensured that the information produced was relevant.

  • The quality of the guide impressed parents/caregivers who felt immensely relieved that it existed (according to conversations with 2,302 individuals through outreach).

  • School leader and system buy-in made the data collection process smooth and fair.

EarlyWorks started with outreach to parents across the city to find out what kind of information they wanted to see in a schools guide. Information gleaned from parent, caregiver, and educator insights provided the direction for the schools guide design.

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The schools guide team worked with:

  • 156 parents (English- and Spanish-speaking contributed to the guide’s information design)

  • 99% of school leaders reviewed, verified and signed off on their school listings (193 out of 196 school listings)

  • 43 community champions pledged that they would spread the word about the guide and how to use it.

  • An advisory table that included representatives from Detroit Parent Network, the Mayor’s Office, the charter community, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Skillman Foundation, and the Detroit Children’s Foundation and that met weekly on the school guide.

Once launched, schools guide distribution focused on meeting parents and caregivers where they already would be: in their neighborhoods and in the community.

  • 2,302 one-on-one conversations about the guides (at fairs and other outreach events)

  • 8,000 English language printed guides were distributed – we ran out of guides by the end of August due to demand from community champions who pledged to distribute them (5,000 were distributed through champions)

  • 500 Spanish language printed guides were distributed

Much of our outreach took place before the guide was printed because it was prime summer enrollment season and we didn’t want to lose any momentum. We had a presence at:

  • Three GOAL Line parent fairs at NWAC

  • Metro Youth Day on Belle Isle

  • Blight Boot Camp

  • St. John Providence Health Fair at Conner Creek

  • Arise! Detroit Neighborhoods Day

  • State of the Black Male Conference

  • Heilmann Back to School Event

  • Detroit Community Health Connection Annual Health Fair

  • The Order of the Fisherman Head Start Block Party

  • Plainview Block Club Back to School Event

  • PBS Kids Educators Event

  • Pathways to Potential Back to School Resource Fair

  • The guide was officially launched at a Family Fun Day fair attended by 200 parents and caregivers


“I have lived in Detroit my whole life and have two amazing children who, in the course of their academic career, attended a combined 15 schools. This guide is a resource and tool I wish I had when I began my school search. It is so awesome to see how the Detroit Community Education Commission has pulled together partners to make this book possible. I’ve always known that great educational experiences exist in Detroit, I just struggled to know where they all were and how to access them. Now, the tool is in your hands!”

—Bernita Bradley, Native Detroiter, mother and parent advocate

Promotion of the guide was focused on earned media primarily, because the website launched later then the printed version.

Earned media included:

  • WXYZ coverage

  • Fox2 live interview with Monique Marks

  • Chalkbeat articles (2)

  • WDET interview with Monique Marks and Detroit Parent Network advocate

  • 105.9 KISS FM coverage

  • American Black Journal interview with Monique Marks

  • Detroit News article