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Detroit, MI Raises $1B in Funding 5 Years after Declaring Bankruptcy

The City of Detroit

Detroit, MI

After declaring bankruptcy in 2013, Detroit was looking to restore financial stability and raise grant revenue in support of its strategic vision. The city’s finance department implemented a web-based grant management solution that has led to $1 Billion in grant and donation revenue.

Topics Covered

Digital Divide
Fiscal Uncertainty
Process Improvement


Initial: 81 Thousand USD

O&M: 93 Thousand USD


General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2014

Gov Champion

Deputy Chief Financial Officer

Problem Addressed

The City of Detroit's outdated systems and processes limited the city's capacity for economic growth after declaring bankruptcy.

After the devastating financial impacts of the 2009 recession on the city of Detroit, the city declared bankruptcy in 2013. In the following months, the city was looking to increase grant revenue in support of its strategic vision to restore financial stability. However, challenges existed with outdated systems, processes, and record-keeping that limited Detroit's capacity for grant applications and management.

In the year prior to bankruptcy, Detroit had over 60 grant-related audit findings and millions in questioned costs requiring the return of funds to grantors. With the volume of grants available and inherent difficulty in tracking grant applications and status, Detroit’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) solicited a competitive bid under emergency management conditions to procure a web-based grants management solution (GMS).

The RFP listed requirements for the GMS that included:

• an intuitive user interface

• support of grants management best practices

• an expedited implementation

• the ability to integrate with the city’s current and future financial systems

Solutions Used

Detroit improved its systems and processes for grants and management, increasing revenue and aiding in the city's economic recovery.

The City of Detroit chose to use eCivis and its Grants Network solution to help find more grant revenue and upgrade its grant management processes.

Grants Network is a fully integrated cloud-based system that propels the full grants management lifecycle. Finding grants, acquiring grants, and managing grants can all be performed in one centralized system.

The system was administered by a citywide grant management unit (now the Office of Development and Grants) to aid in Detroit’s economic recovery. The use of the system enabled the organized management of all grants across the city, regardless of department. With the aid of eCivis and Grants Network, the city was able to:

• Improve compliance accounting practices through the automation of processes and procedures.

• Enable accurate and timely reporting to key stakeholders.

• Use a centralized platform for all grant-related information.

• Save documentation electronically for smoother and more efficient audit preparation.

Since 2014, the city of Detroit has deployed and continues to find new ways to leverage eCivis. "In the years since the rebound, Detroit’s communities have surged, with a thriving downtown business district and reinvestment in historic neighborhoods," said Katerli Bounds, Former Deputy Chief Financial Officer. "Grants played a major role. In 2017, Detroit received $202 million in grants and donations for neighborhood revitalization and service improvements."



In the five years since declaring bankruptcy, the city secured more than $1 billion in grants and donations to support neighborhood revitalization and service improvements


In 2019, Detroit received the largest single amount awarded to a local government, $9.7 MM, as part of HUD's High Impact Neighborhood Grant


The city saw an 88% reduction in audit findings


Audit results included zero questioned costs of federal grant awards for two years straight


Detroit ended FY 2018 with an operating surplus of approximately $36 million, after three consecutive years of a balanced budget and operating surpluses

Lessons Learned


One of the benefits from having gone through bankruptcy was giving Detroit the opportunity to to build processes from scratch again, including operationalizing record-keeping.

Something Unique

As a result of improvements in their financial reporting, federal agencies such as the Department of Justice and HUD removed Detroit from high-risk status and increased the number of discretionary grants awarded to the city.

Who Should Consider

Cities looking to save time, reduce manual labor and paperwork, and have their grant process lead to more successful grant applications, grant project outcomes, all while eliminating/reducing audit findings.

Last Updated

Mar 23rd, 2022
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