City of Detroit joins Centre for Public Impact's inaugural Earned Legitimacy Learning Cohort


City of Detroit joins Centre for Public Impact's inaugural Earned Legitimacy Learning Cohort 

The City of Detroit announced this month it would be joining other communities from across the nation as part of the Centre for Public Impact (CPI) organization's inaugural Earned Legitimacy Learning Cohort, committing to better serving all residents.

CPI is an international organization working with local governments to create effective and responsive governance. The City's Office of Disability Affairs (ODA), a part of the Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity (CRIO), and other City colleagues, are joining a number of community partners, including Detroit Disability Power (DDP), Warriors on Wheels (WOW), Kresge Foundation, and Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN), in working with CPI to build earned legitimacy.

"As a community organizer in Detroit participating in CPI has heightened my understanding of how to build better trust between the City of Detroit and Detroiters," said Tameka Citchen-Spruce, member of Warriors on Wheels. "I'm looking forward to using the tools to make a difference."

According to CPI, earned legitimacy represents the idea governments must acknowledge BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized groups, while demonstrate a commitment to confront the racial justice and civil rights issues in their communities.

“I am excited about the Earned Legitimacy Learning Cohort because we are exploring ways we could increase public engagement and inclusion of the disability community,” said Christopher Samp, Director of ODA. “Together with our community partners and City department leaders, we will strengthen the relationship between the disability community and the city government, and make Detroit a more welcoming, inclusive and accessible city.”

Over ten weeks, CPI will serve as a learning partner to Detroit and other participating communities in the Earned Legitimacy Learning Cohort, including Salt Lake City, Utah; Carlton County, Minnesota; and Harris County, Texas.

The program will explore where power sits within each city or county, the history of marginalized communities, and the stereotypes and assumptions associated with them, and move to develop and implement legitimate changes and improvements to help all residents.

“We are delighted for the opportunity to participate in the Earned Legitimacy Cohort held by the Centre for Public Impact,” said Kim Rustem, Director of Detroit’s Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department, “At the Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department, we are dedicated to the creation of a more equitable future with and for our residents. Essential to this is the centering of community voice, partnership, and trust. As we embark on this learning journey with our community partners, I look forward to unearthing better ways to serve our city and people.”

While all counties and cities in the cohort are committed to the overarching goal of fostering strong, trusting relationships between government and communities so that they can work openly and effectively together, participants could also opt to focus on a particular issue or topical area.

In Detroit, the community partners are focusing on increasing public engagement, representation, equity, and inclusion of the disability community with the overarching goal of improving accessibility and equitable opportunities for residents of the city with disabilities.

"Learning together, with City employees, how to best build respectful, two way communication is a valuable use of time as we at Detroit Disability Power work daily to ensure our city is one that works well for disabled residents," said Dessa Cosma, Executive Director of Detroit Disability Power. "Bridging the gap between community and city leadership is essential for our success."

For the full story of the CPI national Earned Legitimacy Learning Cohort, visit CPI's website at Detroit, Michigan | Centre For Public Impact (CPI)

For additional information on the Detroit Office of Disability Affairs, visit the City webpage at Office of Disability Affairs | City of Detroit (