A coworking space in Detroit provides a place for parents to work and kids to thrive.
Story and Photography by Sylvia Jarrus
Nestled in the McNichols Corridor in Detroit’s Bagley neighborhood is the Detroit Parent Collective, a coworking space for families to get work done and have a safe environment for their children to grow.
The open space offers a warm and inviting atmosphere, where parents can work on their laptops or mingle with other parents and children. Kids roam barefoot in designated rooms equipped with Montessori-style resources, teachers and parent volunteers.
This is the kind of environment Krista McClure of Southfield was envisioning from the start.
“We wanted to be able to bridge the gap between community so within our mission our intent is to remove barriers between families based on race, ethnicity and economic status,” says the 30-year-old founder.
Since the collective opened its doors in October 2017 with a six-week pilot program and the grand opening in January, it has reached full capacity serving 40 families. Many parents work in the space, but also have the option to drop off their children during the workday. The coworking space offers an infant, pre-school and toddler program with the option of part-time or full-time membership.
A part-time membership covers two days of the week and costs $312, and a full-time membership Monday through Thursday is $500 per month and per household. (These rates increase starting September 1st.) The financial model is designed to help lighten the load by supporting larger families who may not be able to afford care for multiple children.
“We pride ourselves in that we are here for you,” McClure says. “We’re still going to offer you the quality you deserve as well as it being affordable to your family whether you are that working middle class, if you’re in lower income or if you’re on a job search.”
Dr. Jann Hoge, 63, is an educator at the collective who taught social work for 22 years at Marygrove College and says diversity was one of the initiatives she and her niece, Krista McClure, hoped to implement.
“At the collective, there’s a real diversity of children, income, educational background and religious background so I think that was one of our hopes, and it’s working,” she says.
While the teaching style of the pre-school program has been mainly focused on Montessori teaching philosophy, which emphasizes independent work. Hoge says they are starting to infuse Reggio Emilia and Waldorf teaching philosophies as well that focus more on the arts, which she thinks sets them apart from other programs.
“We want to bring out the best and really give each child, I call them ‘our little scholars,’ tailored opportunities,” Hoge says.
Jenna Taylor, 33, of Hamtramck is a stay-at-home mom and full-time graphic designer. She appreciates being surrounded by “like-minded moms” and says she’s able to get emails and phone calls done without distractions from her kids. She’s also noticed positive changes in her son, Desmond, since joining the program.
“He puts his toys away now,” Taylor says. “He’ll be done with an activity and he makes sure it all gets put away and that’s new. It’s definitely from school. I could ask him a million times to do it, and he never would.”
McClure’s background working as a paraprofessional in Birmingham Public Schools, assisting the founder of the Detroit Achievement Academy and helping families at the nonprofit Excellent Schools Detroit all helped her identify the need for a space like this. She often saw school leaders and administrators who had ideas for what Detroit families needed but didn’t always make the connection with the communities they served.
“They have these marvelous ideas, but yet my question that I ask them is ‘Would you send your child there? Is it quality enough that you would have your own child fill the seat in the space that you oversee?’ ” McClure says.
McClure doesn’t claim to be an expert in this area, but as a mother of two, she bases many of her decisions on what she wants for her own children. “I’m usually asking myself every night, ‘Is this something I want for my child?’ whether it’s the meals, the aesthetics, what the place looks like or feels like,” McClure says.
Ferndale resident Nikkita Cohoon, 32, a graphic and web designer, has been a member since March and says the community atmosphere has helped her be productive.
“You’re not here in isolation working. You’ll have conversation, you’ll get to know everyone around you and so it’s really that sense of community in the truest sense of the word,” Cohoon says. “You hear that word a lot, but it’s really embodied here.”
Grosse Pointe resident Amy Greenroyd, 36, recently moved to the Detroit area and says the space offers peace of mind.
“Knowing that the kids are being taken care of, and I’m right here if they need me, has eased the transition for getting my daughter into a preschool setting, and is helping my baby be a little more independent so I can get some work done,” Greenroyd says.
McClure is hopeful for the future, noting new construction that will offer more working and lounge space for parents and a larger infant room. Her next goal is to launch a nonprofit by the end of the month as well as a “free thinker” type of school by 2019.
Any changes in the space are made with intention and inclusion of the community.
“History is really important for any small business when moving into a neighborhood and being socially and racially cognizant of what was happening before you arrived and what might happen after you leave,” McClure says.
While members hail from cities like Ferndale, Grosse Pointe, Detroit and Huntington Woods, McClure says she feels work still needs to be done for the space to be accessible to families in the immediate neighborhood.
“I love the families that are here,” she says. “However, I would love to touch on the folks within the community who should also have the opportunity to explore and be a part of something magnificent.”
The cooperative and familial spirit of the Detroit Parent Collective is what makes it special. It’s not just a place to work and bring your kids, it’s a place to connect with others and be part of a family.
“We’re not here for the money,” McClure says. “We’re here because we want to make an impact in the lives of the families that we touch.”
Detroit Parent Collective
8418 W. McNichols Road, Detroit