Growing Hope continues hiring in Ypsilanti

Growing Hope is taking root and flourishing in downtown Ypsilanti as it expands it budget and gets ready to go on a hiring spree.

The non-profit has cultivated its budget from nothing in 2003 to a little more than $300,000 this year. That has allowed it to grow it staff to 11 people (nine full-time and two part-time) and it expects to fill another eight positions this spring. Those jobs are the equivalent of 10-week summer internships that pay about $900 a month and come with a $1,200 education tax credit.

"The growth has been tremendous," says Amanda Maria Edmonds, executive director of Growing Hope.

And its not just staff wise. The non-profit has helped grow downtown Ypsilanti's Farmer's market from $20,000 in sales a few years ago to $108,000 in sales last year. That includes about $20,000 in sales that came from seniors or economically disadvantage people utilizing government programs like Bridge Cards. It expects to grow the farmer's market even more this year.

Another growth area that is attracting attention to Growing Hope is its hoop house. That has allowed the non-profit to raise crops year round and attract hundreds of volunteers. Those volunteers range from people donating one day of their time to one day a week during the growing season.

"The hoop house has been the biggest attraction," Edmonds says. "It continues to draw people to us. It's pretty amazing to see people harvesting spinach in February when there is snow outside."

The hoop house is next to Growing Hope's new home, a house on Michigan Avenue in the midst of restoration. The donated Tudor has benefited from a number of organizations, including Washtenaw Community College's construction program, the local plumbers union which roughed in $7,500 worth of kitchen plumbing and the generosity of the Next Generation Philanthropy, which works out of the Ann Arbor-based Community Foundation.

Source: Amanda Maria Edmonds, executive director of Growing Hope
Writer: Jon Zemke
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