Cultivating collaboration to ensure Detroit Head Start’s successful expansion

The movement to strengthen early childhood education in Detroit is growing, and we are excited to be a part of it. The Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative engaged us to plan, design, and implement a citywide campaign to boost enrollment in Detroit’s 65 Head Start centers, along with our partners Nicole de Beaufort and Melissa Vander Laan from Early Works.

Currently, Head Start is managed and served by multiple individual nonprofit providers. We worked with each of these individual agencies to evaluate the existing early childhood enrollment process and brands in Detroit. We then held participatory design workshops with over 30 parents and caregivers to craft campaign messages (in Spanish and English) and a unified brand identity.


Head Start Brand Identity

For the first time, because of our comprehensive communication plan and campaign strategy, Detroit’s Head Start providers now have a shared identity and common messages to use in their communication with the public. And, for the first time, the number of Head Start seats had exponentially grown through unprecedented new federal funding.

Bilingual Informational Cards

We’ve delivered communication training and support to help each agency play a role in the project while simultaneously building new online infrastructure that is helping more local families learn what Head Start has to offer. Throughout this content creation, we adapted to emerging themes while driving families to visit and then enroll in a center online. This also marks the beginning of citywide shared data collection that will provide insights for future enrollment work.

To build momentum and connect with new families, we created an ongoing stream of original content for the website, Facebook, and paid online advertising. An invaluable asset throughout the campaign has been the stories we heard and were able to share from Detroit families who have been impacted by Head Start. See them at in both English and Spanish.

Stories on
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We thank the following foundations for their meaningful collaboration and commitment to Head Start’s success in Detroit:

  • W. K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Kresge Foundation
  • Skillman Foundation
  • Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation
  • McGregor Fund
  • Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
  • Jewish Fund
  • PNC Foundation

Social Media Posts

Read more about Head Start at the Detroit Free Press or watch foundation staff discuss the project at American Black Journal. Follow the national Head Start conversation at #HeadStartWorks.

Read the 2011 report by the Fisher Foundation about the cost savings of school readiness in Detroit and Michigan.