The Chase comes to an end

Feb 3, 2010 at 12:00 am

Two weeks ago we looked at four metro-Detroit organizations competing for a cool million, thanks to an innovative, Facebook-fueled grant giveaway ("Chasing the buck," Jan. 13). Facebook votes propelled Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, Friendship Circle and Sikhcess, both from West Bloomfield, and the Canton-based charity Hand by Hand into the top 100. Each won $25,000. 

This week two of the four, Mosaic Youth Theatre and Friendship Circle, won further grant money. 

Mosaic Youth Theatre came up a bit short in the tally, but, the hearts and minds behind the grant giveaway were so inspired that another $37,000 was granted to the acclaimed youth arts organization. 

One of five second round winners — each taking home another $100,000 in grant money — is the Friendship Circle, an organization that brings families with children who have learning, developmental or physical disabilities back "into the circle" of community. They do this by pairing their children with teenage volunteers who are taught to acknowledge their friends' place in society and help them integrate. Their 23,000-square-foot facility features an activity wing, home to eight different kinds of therapy rooms, and a 5,000-square-foot "indoor city" called the Weinberg Village, which is a place where kids with special needs can learn essential life skills like using crosswalks, banking, visiting the pharmacy, pet store, beauty salon, doctor, library and more. With help from more than 800 volunteers, Friendship Circle serves 2,500 kids from 155 metro-Detroit schools. 

The grand, million-dollar prize went to San Diego-based Invisible Children Inc., a group helping raise awareness of the war in Northern Uganda and educate that country's children.