Reflecting on Two Years of Co.act Detroit

Jul 9, 2021

Just over two years ago, Co.act Detroit officially opened our doors and invited southeast Michigan’s nonprofit community to embark with us on a journey of learning, trust-building and collaborative action. No one could have predicted the twists, challenges and unexpected joys these two years held. But we can say today — just as we did two years ago — that we’re so thankful you joined us.

In observance of these two years of collaborative action, the Co.act Detroit team and some of our most frequent collaborators reflected on our favorite Co.act Detroit memories and imagined what our region and sector might look like if we’d never opened our doors.



What’s your favorite Co.act Detroit memory?


My favorite times at Co.act Detroit are the moments when I look up at all the faces around me and realize I don’t know at least 50% of the people I’m seeing. The nonprofit sector in our region can sometimes feel like such a tiny village, and being around Co.act is both a great reminder that this isn’t the case and a wonderful opportunity to interact with people I’ve never met before in meaningful ways. – Erica Raleigh, Data Driven Detroit

I really loved going to one of Cornetta Lane’s last Dinner with 30 events at Co.act, the thought of sharing a meal and stories with a large group of mostly strangers is something I miss. Another favorite is the open working hours where I got to test drive working remotely and run into new and old friends in the nonprofit sector. – Adam DesJardins, CultureSource

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but my first memory and introduction to Coact was the soft opening in December 2018. I ended up attending by chance and hearing about the event from a colleague I happened to be meeting for lunch that day. I’ll never forget the excitement and vibrant energy that evening, running into friends and co-workers I hadn’t seen in a while, my first interaction with the beautifully designed and newly activated space in the center of other economic development projects I was working with on a block that had been primarily vacant at the time. Little did I know within six months it would be my new office! – Kyla Carlsen, Co.act Detroit

One of my favorite Co.act memories is sitting at the front desk to welcome and support anyone who comes in. It was always a beautiful surprise because of the unpredictability of who would stop by. It could be Baba Blair Anderson strolling through to say, “Hello” or someone with their own nonprofit looking for resources. Moments like these are special because strangers turned into regulars and became the Co.activists we dreamed of serving when we opened. – Charnae Sanders, Co.act Detroit

All of the events in our space were rewarding and unique, but our grand opening was like none other. Seeing how many folks in the community we had supporting our mission and seeking service made me incredibly excited for the future. – Alexis Farrell, Co.act Detroit

My favorite Co.act Detroit memory is selecting the Activate Fund grantees. Our team was forced to pivot the program at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our collaborative efforts with more than 15 partner organizations to codesign and implement the program ensured we were able to provide needed resources to southeast Michigan nonprofits during a pivotal moment. I remain in awe of the adaptability and commitment of our team and partners. – Allandra Bulger, Co.act Detroit

I have so many Co.act memories but my favorite Co.act Detroit memory is from our grand opening. We had a meet the team lunch. Our team got to connect with the community that we serve. We were able to sit and connect on another level. It was so intriguing to me listening to all the stories of the organizations that we serve. – Jaclynn Louden, Co.act Detroit

There are so many great memories. But, I think the launch activities were my favorite.  I loved seeing the space filled with nonprofit leaders, speakers and it was great that we were encouraged to get out and see the local businesses that are in and around Co.act Detroit. There was really a great vibe going on the whole time. – Kelley Kuhn, Michigan Nonprofit Association

One of my favorite Co.act Detroit memories is actually from before I joined the team. I was holding an event in the space with the nonprofit I was working for at the time. I was running around getting everything ready and at one point went outside  to wait for catering. Jackie came outside to chat with me and offer her support. She was so kind and so down to earth. It honestly felt like we had been friends forever the way we were talking. She put my mind at ease and I forgot for a moment the stress of the event. What may have seemed like a small gesture – meant way more than could be imagined. Now as part of the team, I get to experience and be a part of the kindness and realness not just exhibited by Jackie but the whole Co.act team. These are traits of the Co.act culture in both internal and external interactions! It’s a way of operating that’s much needed in the nonprofit sector. – Lauren Boone, Co.act Detroit

What would Southeast Michigan’s nonprofit ecosystem look like without Co.act?


Without Co.act Detroit, I think there would be a lot of nonprofits that would not have access to much needed capacity building services as well as a broader network of other nonprofit leaders. – Kelley Kuhn, Michigan Nonprofit Association

I don’t have to imagine what the ecosystem would look like without co.act. It wasn’t here just a few short years ago. Co.act is providing meaningful support to organizations that are doing the most critical work for our region. I’ve seen many organizations use Co.act to find support, attend workshops, gain access to information and to partners. I’m more excited to imagine the future of our ecosystem BECAUSE of Co.act’s existence. I imagine a well resourced, well supported, well connected, thriving nonprofit sector because of Co.act. – Trish Dewald, EarlyWorks, llc

There wouldn’t be such a quality, state-of the art hub for nonprofits and nonprofit workers, with such a thoughtful, collaborative staff. With Co.act, our nonprofit ecosystem is even more collaborative, resourced, and sharing-oriented thanks to my colleagues at Co.act Detroit create and maintain the space and programming. – Adam DesJardins, CultureSource

Without Co.act, it would be much more difficult for us to help many of the people who reach out to us. Sometimes, we get requests for assistance that are well beyond the services we normally provide, but thanks to Co.act, we have a network of other providers that we can connect these people with. Without this network, many of these requests would go unfulfilled, and I’m sure that the other members of the network would say the same thing.  Having a central place to funnel these connections and referrals through has been tremendously beneficial to both D3 and to the nonprofits that we serve. – Noah Urban, Data Driven Detroit

Nonprofits and our region have always been resilient and would continue doing the great work they’ve always been doing. However I hope we have added value by increasing access to high quality, national resources and direct capacity grant funding to help organizations on the path to being even stronger and more sustainable, with an emphasis on removing barriers for smaller, grassroots and BIPOC led organizations who are often closest to the communities they’re serving.Likewise, there has always been collaboration in our city and region, but through the Activate Fund we were able to help cross-sector groups take their work to the next level by providing in kind services and unlocking access to resources and thought partnership. Co.act provided high quality space for groups to convene and work together on some of our community’s most challenging systemic issues, and a central hub for nonprofit and social sector professionals to connect and collaborate formally and informally. – Kyla Carlsen, Co.act Detroit

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