The Fitzgerald neighborhood on Detroit’s west side may seem like a random spot to open a coworking space, but Detroit native and Strategic Community Partners CEO Chanel Hampton knows that the history of the community makes it the perfect location.
She says, “When we started, we knew we wanted a neighborhood. What really attracted us to Fitzgerald was the legacy. In the 1850s, an escaped slave named James Kanada landed in that community after coming to Detroit from Ontario. He was a successful free black farmer, the first in the area. A lot of people don’t know the history or forgot, but we didn’t.”
The 2,000-square-foot building will offer workspace hubs, conference rooms and programming areas for local businesses and organizations. As a rule, space for nonprofits and initiatives that serve the community are provided at no cost.
“We believe when strategy pairs with community and cultural frameworks, beautiful things can happen,” Hampton says. “Sometimes, all these phenomenal groups need is a meeting place that costs them nothing or a brick-and-mortar spot where they can organize and really start to do great things.”
Hampton says that it was important to create a “sustainable funding structure, based on funding black-owned spaces with black dollars.” As someone who faced an uphill battle towards success and taught middle school English for years, Hampton knows exactly how pivotal a quality education can be to black and brown kids. The Fitzgerald coworking space is offering free resources and supplies for Detroit teachers, especially those affiliated with the Teach 313 initiative.
“I found myself living on my own at 13. Statistically speaking, I shouldn’t be here, but I knew I could use education to my benefit. I believe that through education and advancement, we can make our communities self-sustaining.”
10240 W. McNichols Road, Detroit