Junior Aniya Roundtree talked about the Cody neighborhood earlier this month on a panel during The Detroit GradNation Community Summit of 2016 at Wayne State University.

“Our neighborhoods are bad. We have abandoned houses, grass growing as tall as people, and drunks walking around while we're trying to find motivation to even go to school,” Roundtree said. “Seeing those kinds of things before even making it to the school discourages me from even wanting to keep going.”

Now Roundtree is part of a group working to change that.

Not happy to have an abandoned house right across from the entrance to the school, students, staff and parents from the Detroit Institute of Technology at Cody made calls to the City of Detroit until the house was removed. A group of students immediately started on a plan to improve the view.

The students want to turn the lot into Hope Park, a space for everyone in the community. The plan includes community message boards, a fitness area, a small playground, a fountain and a stage.

On April 6, they found out they won a $25,000 planning grant at Kresge Foundation’s Innovative Projects Grant Celebration at U-D Mercy.

The grant is only to cover the costs of the planning which will happen this summer. Small groups will each work on research and planning for one part of the project. These groups include site and materials procurement, social research, community engagement and design.

Freshman Omar Lopez is working with the community engagement committee passing out surveys to neighbors to get their ideas about the project. He calls Hope Park a work in progress.

I feel like we’re changing the community,” Lopez said.

DIT Social Studies teacher Josh Sabo said he’s pleased that Hope Park is really a student-led project.

“It's not something adults are doing and and only involving students when the camera’s are rolling. In about three years, students can come back and be proud of something they created,” Sabo said.