Hazel Park Schools to receive $1 million state grant

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published March 19, 2024

 Longfellow Elementary, in the Hazel Park Public Schools, will be revamped with new after-school services and community programming, backed by a $1 million grant from the state.

Longfellow Elementary, in the Hazel Park Public Schools, will be revamped with new after-school services and community programming, backed by a $1 million grant from the state.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


HAZEL PARK — Hazel Park Public Schools has secured state funds to help revamp Longfellow Elementary with after-school and community programming.

The grant totals $1 million, and comes by way of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The so-called Community Center Grant is for what the state classifies as a “community school.”

“It’s a specific designation,” explained Amy Kruppe, the district’s superintendent. “’The status of ‘community school’ is about making schools the center of your community.”

Only five public school districts in the state received the grant, and Hazel Park Public Schools was the only one to receive it in the tri-county area. The district serves the city of Hazel Park and part of Ferndale.

Longfellow Elementary, located at 570 E. Mapledale Ave., has not operated as a school in recent years. A food service company has been renting its facilities to prepare meals for area schools.

Kruppe noted that the grant is specifically for infrastructure improvements, now in the planning stages at Longfellow Elementary.

The district originally applied for $2.5 million. While the district didn’t get the full amount, officials say the $1 million will still enable them to make significant headway revamping facilities at Longfellow Elementary, so that they can serve a variety of uses for the community.

While it won’t be implemented all at once, and the specifics are still being decided, the district’s vision is to ultimately provide items such as expanded counseling and mental health care services, with a psychologist available at Longfellow, and to work with agencies to provide medical and dental services there as well.

The district would also like to collaborate with the state’s Michigan Works program to provide career training services for adults, and to provide spaces for community members to hold meetings, give presentations and conduct workshops.

Longfellow Elementary could also provide spaces for recreational programs and leisure activities aimed at senior citizens, Kruppe said, done in partnership with Hazel Park Recreation.

Another goal is to open up the school’s kitchen and cafeteria for cooking programs and healthy eating initiatives, and to use the gym for exercise activities such as yoga classes.

“It’s about giving people in the community access to utilize the facilities,” Kruppe said.

United Oaks Elementary is another school in the district that has community school status. In the case of United Oaks, the designation was achieved via a grant through United Way that allows the school to provide nutritious food and drinks for children all throughout the day.

Similar services are available at the other schools in the district, as are other services such as makerspace programs in the media center and tutoring for students.

“In a nutshell, it’s making sure our kids are safe and secure, health-wise and whole-child-wise,” Kruppe said. “We’re really excited that this infrastructure grant came up. We’ll be working to make all of these ideas happen.”

The grant is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Make It In Michigan” initiative, which seeks to make strategic investments in people’s quality of life.

“Community centers anchor thriving communities across Michigan, offering Michiganders places to gather, connect, learn and access resources,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This funding for community centers will help us deliver on our ‘Make It In Michigan’ vision to revitalize cities and towns across Michigan by making them more attractive places to live, work and invest.”