Life Remodeled and the Skillman Foundation announce $200,000 grant to support Cody High School campus make-over

The Detroit-based Skillman Foundation on Wednesday, May 7, surprised Cody High School campus students at a pep rally by announcing a $200,000 grant to support a major campus overhaul planned for the school. The Skillman Foundation grant is part of an unprecedented fundraising initiative by the nonprofit organization Life Remodeled to radically transform the Cody High School campus building, grounds and surrounding neighborhood by fall 2014. The Cody campus houses three academies: Cody Academy of Public Leadership, Detroit Institute of Technology College Prep High School at Cody, and Medicine and Community Health Academy at Cody.

“Kids in all Detroit neighborhoods deserve to grow up in places free of abandoned homes and blight,” said Skillman Foundation President & CEO Tonya Allen. “They also deserve to attend schools that provide quality experiences and education. We have worked in the Cody Rouge neighborhood for the last seven years to make it that kind of neighborhood.

“Life Remodeled,” Allen added, “will build on the strengths of this neighborhood – its strong nucleus of caring adult leaders and millions of dollars in previous investments – to take the neighborhood to a new level in just one week. That’s something we are so excited to be a part of.”

“Detroit Public Schools’ number one priority is the education of its nearly 50,000 students. Providing a safe, clean, 21st century learning environment goes hand-in-hand with students’ ability to learn,” said Emergency Manager Jack Martin. “We continue to be thankful to Life Remodeled for spearheading this unprecedented partnership to transform Cody High School, as well as provide renovations to two nearby elementary-middle schools, and we add to that our extreme gratitude to the Skillman Foundation for this very generous grant to support the Cody High School campus and its students, and for its ongoing support of our school system.”

 “Thanks to our very lean, but incredibly talented staff and a Task Force of amazing volunteers, Life Remodeled is the organizer of this seemingly impossible project,” said Chris Lambert, Founder/President of Life Remodeled. “However, it is our partners, like the Skillman Foundation, who execute and make this thing happen.”

Lambert on Wednesday also invited the Cody students to become leaders for the Life Remodeled Project, allowing hundreds of students to sign up to volunteer on a variety of committees.

“One of the mantras we’ve developed is, ‘We don’t serve neighborhoods… We serve WITH neighborhoods.’  It’s largely because of the proven determination of Cody High School campus students to better their environment that we selected this area of Detroit,” Lambert added.

The organization also aims to partner with local residents of each area served to remove blight in the surrounding neighborhood, and create safe and inspirational pathways to the school with the goal of sustaining and building up a neighborhood that radiates hope to the rest of the city. For the 2013 Life Remodeled Project, the organization exceeded its goals and built a brand new home, boarded up 253 dangerous houses, beautified 65 blocks and renovated 36 homes in six days, with help from over 5,200 volunteers.

“We couldn’t be more thankful for this make-over project and the investment that these wonderful Life Remodeled partners and other organizations have committed to Cody High School,” said Michelle Parker, principal of the Medicine and Community Health Academy at Cody.

“In the past three years, Cody has undergone a true make-over of its curriculum and now houses three top-notch academic programs in the building,” she said. “With that investment, we are making great strides in our academics and graduation rate, but now it’s time to have a building that matches our high expectations and supports our rigorous curriculum.”

The project is expected to kick into high gear August 11- 17, culminating in a celebration on August 17. Life Remodeled is seeking people who are interested in being leaders, as well as donations of materials and labor.

About Life Remodeled

Life Remodeled is a non-profit organization with a mission to remodel lives—one neighborhood at a time. That strategy includes remodeling a Detroit Public School each summer in order to create academic and athletic improvements. As part of the initiative, Life Remodeled organizers pledged to secure funding and in-kind services to do painting, landscaping, roof repair, electrical work, at least three classroom renovations, remodel 20 homes of students and their families, demolish 10 abandoned houses, beautify over 100 surrounding blocks, and install a new football field at the high school, which is located in northwest Detroit. Go to for more information and to see a video recap of the Detroit 2013 Project.

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