Durfee Innovation Society

2018 Project

As 2018 marked the 51st year anniversary of the 1967 Detroit uprising, Life Remodeled and our partners are continued to invest in the neighborhood surrounding the Durfee Innovation Society, in the community where Detroit’s civil unrest began. Our collective impact serves not only as a powerful commemoration of the progress that has been made, but also the progress we continue to strive toward.

In the past, Life Remodeled made one year commitments to neighborhoods, however we have decided to commit four years to the neighborhood surrounding Durfee K-8 and Central High School. We will remain focused on this community until at least the year 2020. 

In 2017 we:

  • began renovating and repurposing the former Durfee Elementary Middle School building (adjacent to Central High School) into the Durfee Innovation Society
  • repaired 53 homes
  • mobilized 11,032 volunteers in six days
  • boarded up 534 vacant houses
  • removed blight on 367 blocks

During our 2018 Six Day Project, we mobilized 10,397 volunteers on the same blocks, but went beyond blight removal. In response to the vision and requests of students and community residents, we invested in public spaces and places by:

  • Beautifying 316 city blocks
  • Boarding up 396 houses
  • Clearing 102 alleyways
  • Planting more than 700 trees, shrubs and perennials
  • Building 6 community gardens
  • Installing 20 little free libraries along Safe Routes
  • Designating the safest routes to Durfee and Central schools with artwork
  • Installing 3 new bus shelters
  • Installing 5 grills and picnic tables at neighborhood parks
  • Installing 2 sets of bleachers for the Central High School softball field
  • Adding neighborhood signage

Durfee Innovation Society

Due to the fact that Central High School students previously occupied less than 20 percent of their school building, the Detroit Public Schools Community District relocated students from Durfee Elementary-Middle School into Central’s building, consolidating into one K-12 school.

The school district invited Life Remodeled to lease the Durfee building (built in 1927, containing 143,000 square-feet) for just $1 per year, and we have repurposed this historic school building into a community innovation center focused on entrepreneurship, employment, education and community.

Repurposing the former Durfee building, Life Remodeled has created a space for the best and brightest nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses to co-locate, share resources and achieve greater collective impact. In order to be a tenant inside the Durfee Innovation Society, organizations must enrich the human spirit of Detroiters by achieving at least one of the following

  • implementing real-world educational experiences for youth and children
  • creating significant workforce development or employment opportunities for youth and/or adults
  • supporting entrepreneurism
  • providing a nonprofit service

The Durfee Innovation Society exists to create substantial and impactful opportunities for Detroit children and families, while advancing collaboration among the eight major sectors (arts, business, education, faith-based, government, human services, media and philanthropy) in both the city and it’s surrounding suburbs. Life Remodeled will measure community use, increased access to opportunities for youth and children, and the number of jobs we are able to help create. Additionally, Life Remodeled is confident the DIS will generate measurable outcomes through the achievements of it’s tenants, and the success of our tenants will be directly influenced by the participation of students and neighborhood leadership in collaboration with the eight sectors. The determination of what additional outcomes to measure and what results to expect will be fully-reliant on the breadth, quality and capacity of our tenants and partners Life Remodeled is able to solidify in the DIS and surrounding community.


Ongoing tours are available every Friday (10am – 12pm and 1pm – 2pm). 2470 Collingwood St, Detroit, MI 48206. Please park in the southwest lot where you will see large Life Remodeled signs.

Our Approach to Sustainability