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It is hard to not be cheerful when you walk into the Detroit Achievement Academy (DAA) the northwest side of Detroit. It’s bright hallways, colorful walls and clean environment stands in stark contrast to the physical condition of many schools you may have seen on the news in the city today.

Daily Detroit was invited to see the work that had been done with help from Amazon Local Love program, and the results are impressive. First up, it’s not very often you see a mural from renown artist Ouizi on the walls of a school.

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On Tuesday morning a small group made up of employees from Amazon, Insinger, and Morris Assembly Services congregated in the Ellen Degeneres Library to celebrate all of the work that has been done for the students of DAA and the newly opened Detroit Prep. We were joined by second and third grade students from DAA.

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Earlier this year DAA was chosen to be a recipient of Amazon Local Love program. For the past six months Local Love has gotten over 100 volunteers and businesses together to help DAA and Detroit Prep. In total volunteers provided 600 hours of time and $50,000 in products.

For instance, DAA received a brand new industrial dishwasher from Insinger.

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Not to mention all new outdoor learning and play area with a student garden, a soccer field and jungle gym.

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Thermal Pros installed five raised garden beds for students to be able to plant fruits and vegetables. Each garden bed is 24 feet by 4 feet.

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Detroit Prep needed new paint, and Local Love was able to get 150 gallons of paint donated to the school from Rust-Oleum. The furniture and carpeting were also donated. 

Local Love is one of Amazon’s programs to give back. Instead of just handing only dollars, it teams up with local service providers, retailers, and volunteers to give back to nonprofits in need. Each event leverages in-kind donations, Amazon resources, and the power of the community through volunteering. Unlike your typical “Corporate Responsibility” program that often comes in for a day and leaves, Local Love is on the ground and targeted (they only do a few events a year around the country) and they make sure the people and resources are in place to do it right.

“Local Love really wanted to come to Detroit, because Detroit is going through a resurgence. Helping the city was really important to us. Detroit Achievement Academy rose to the top of the list, because it is a great school that needed help. Once we came to visit the school and talk to them about their needs list we fell in love with their learning program,” said Erika Takeuchi founder of Amazon Local Love. “We worked with really passionate community of local service providers, retailers, employees, and volunteers.”

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If you have never heard of DAA or Detroit Prep they were founded by Kyle Smitley. She started DAA in 2013 because she saw a need for quality education in Detroit. She sold her lucrative children’s clothing business to start DAA.

DAA is a free charter school and it currently has 140 students from kindergarten through forth grade. Each year they add a grade. Eventually they will go up to the eighth grade. There is twenty students to a class, and there is a waitlist for kindergarten.

While the school has only been around for a few short years they have already made an impact on the children and families that go to DAA. The school possesses a 99% for school wide academic growth in the country.

Because DAA has done so well, Smitley and Jen McMillan founded Detroit Prep. The new school is located in Indian Village and opened this fall for the current school year. It currently has two kindergarten classes and one first grade class.

Both schools provide everything for the students; school supplies, breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner.

“We tell our students if you show up with a backpack then they are all set to go. We provide breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. As well as uniforms,” said Director of Special Projects Katy Strader. “Kyle says that if she’s done her job she’s made sure that all of her students, families, and teachers have everything they need.”

Here’s a look at the work that has been done at Detroit Prep. The school is currently located in the basement of a church. They hope to find a permanent location for Detroit Prep in the next two years.

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If you are interested in helping DAA or Detroit Prep they have a wish list of items on Amazon.