The Ground Up Project

A Community Development Initiative of the Black Legacy Advancement Coalition

The Ground Up Project

A Community Development Initiative of the Black Legacy Advancement Coalition

The Ground UP Project is an effort to revitalize property in African American neighborhoods, promoting new construction and restoration development within our communities. Our first project is a real estate rehabilitation effort in Detroit, Michigan, The Ali Legacy House. This property will house young adults working as apprentices at employer partner companies of the Ground Up initiative.

Detroit is the first pilot project for a ten-city plan. This pilot will soon expand to house a commercial building, the Black Legacy Advancement Center. The center will be activated as a transformed business incubator – run by and for Detroiters –including:

  1. Two for profit businesses:

a. A barbershop

b. A take-a-way restaurant and catering kitchen

  1. A multipurpose training facility.
  1. Residential apartment living for select trainees.

Artwork by Arjan Jager of Orange Urban Design

The Ali Legacy House

2420 Virginia Park St. Detroit, Michigan 48206

The Ali Legacy House is a residential property, named in honor of the late Ismail Ali. Ismail is the original inspiration behind the Coalition’s mentoring group, The Man to Man Project. This space will be used to house four Ground Up apprentices. By providing affordable housing, we will accelerate opportunities for the deployment of young people poised to take their future and careers by storm. The residential property will be in close proximity to the future Legacy Center, creating an additional layer of support for our apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeship Programming

Applications for the Ground Up Apprenticeship will be made available prior to the launch of the Ali Legacy House. Male applicants between the ages 18-25 will be selected from three talent pools – local Detroit talent, applicants representing our partnered ally organizations, as well as the BLAC Coalition’s broader national audience. Selected apprentices will have the opportunity to work in their desired field of choice within Detroit metroplex at employer partner businesses of the Ground Up Project. Apprentices will live on site in group housing for two years. These young adults will be given the unique, dual opportunity to live and learn independently, as well as work responsibly

Through rigorous programming from the Ground Up Projects curriculum and formal learning work assigned during the apprenticeship, these young people will be prepared to succeed in their communities as strong contributing members of society. Over time, we will secure additional properties in the immediate vicinity of the Black Legacy Advancement Center and Ali Legacy House, to house more young adult participants, and for programming.

Black Legacy Advancement Center

A commercial unit

In phase one, (1) commercial building and (1) residential property will be purchased and renovated for the purposes of lodging, employment, and holistic development. The commercial space will be named the Black Legacy Advancement Center, designed as a mixed-use facility for both business and living. The BLAC Center will function as “Ground Zero” for the project’s central efforts in the community. Lodging for select apprentices will be provided, where they will have the dual opportunity to live and learn independently on site while working responsibly. Through rigorous programming and formal work assigned during their time with the Ground UP Project, these youth and young adults will be prepared to succeed in their communities as strong contributing members of society and developed entrepreneurs.

Four residential apartments will be renovated on the second level of the Legacy Center facility. We will operate a barber shop in the first commercial space. In the second space, we will operate a take-away food shop and catering service, led by a Black-American chef-restaurateur. A full-service kitchen will be secured to make this space functional. One adult staff member will live in the residential space of the facility, serving as the residential advisor to the apprentices living on site.

Apprentices will be trained and employed in the Legacy Center’s barber shop and kitchen. Living accommodations will be offered at a reduced rate. The purpose of this discounted rate of rent is to empower the apprentice to aggressively save a down payment to invest back into their own business and/or property. The financial requirement will be to save forty percent of their monthly earnings in order to launch their entrepreneurial career. During this two-year period, apprentices living in the facility will receive training in business management, business planning, basic engineering, leadership development, and life skills. The wrap around curriculum and services will help to ensure that participants are equipped with the necessary knowledge to be successful in their own long-term business venture when graduating the Ground Up Project’s apprenticeship.

The residential space above the businesses will house (4) studio apartments, (2) bathrooms, as well as laundry facilities. The commercial property sits on a total of four lots. In the first phase, a portion of the lots will be converted into parking and a garden space producing fresh produce for the restaurant. In a second phase of development, additional apartment units will be built on the additional three lots.

Ten City Plan

The Ground Up Project’s Ten City Plan also includes the following Cities:

Jackson, Mississippi

Chicago, Illinois

Austin, Texas

Columbus, Ohio

Birmingham, Alabama

Durham, North Carolina

Los Angeles, California

Baltimore, Maryland

Atlanta, Georgia

The additional projected cost for 9 additional cities is $19,602,000.00.

Partner With Us

Cost of Detroit’s Ground Project

The Ground Up Project is in need of your partnership. Your partnership is key to the ability to purchase properties and for rehabilitation efforts, further ensuring the long-term success of this startup effort.

Dollar by dollar, brick by brick, we are determined to reach our fundraising goals, in order to see the Ground UP project made a reality for the District 5 community of Detroit. This revolving door of opportunity will turn out business professionals and entrepreneurs that are prepared to thrive in reaching their career and entrepreneurial goals.


The Ground Up Project is a community development and programming effort of the Black Legacy Advancement Coalition. The Ali Legacy House will serve as collateral building asset for the organization, a safe haven for young people with delicate housing needs, and an empowerment training ground for our apprenticeship work. The BLAC Center will house the Black Legacy Advancement Coalition as it facilitates the work of the Ground Up Project initiative, two business incubators, as well as the four single-tenant apartments. The site revenue will consist of rent paid from the operational business tenants, residents, and ongoing donations that are fundraised to support the work.

Tax deductible donations can be made to “The BLAC Coalition.” As profitable liquidity is established, and the BLAC Center demonstrates self-sustaining, long-term security, BLAC will begin rehabilitating and building additional living units on the remaining Linwood lots adjacent to the Black Legacy Advancement Center and throughout the neighborhood.

The Ground Up Project presents a unique environment within its urban context. It creates a safe place where seeds of potential can fully germinate in a learning setting equipped with the proper support and guidance.

Partner with the Ground Up Project today – a community development effort committed to uplifting people of color in underserved communities. Please consider investing in this pivotal project. Tremendous value is at stake, and we are committed to being a key partner in rebuilding America’s historically Black communities.

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Make all Checks and/or Money Orders out to BLAC.

Mail to:

PO Box 32088
Detroit Michigan 48232
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Ways to Get Involved

Commission Members are those individuals that commit to partner with one or more of the sector initiatives to research and develop policies that will accomplish our goal of protecting and enriching the will of African American communities nationally.

Apprentices support the Board and the Commissions administratively, while also being facilitated through a leadership development program that will ready them for effective community service in their respective future.

Allies are advocates of the work, and support the cause in their activism, organizing, and fundraising. No official financial commitment is required to become an ally at this time.

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