About 2017-01-31T12:23:18+00:00

SOUP is:

  • a collaborative situation
  • a public dinner
  • a platform for connection
  • a safe space
  • a democratic experiment in micro-funding
  • a relational hub bringing together various creative communities
  • a forum for critical but accessible discussion
  • an opportunity to support creative people in Detroit

Detroit SOUP is a microgranting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Detroit. For a donation $5 attendees receive soup, salad, bread and a vote and hear from four presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more. Each presenter has four minutes to share their idea and answer four questions from the audience. At the event, attendees eat, talk, share resources, enjoy art and vote on the project they think benefits the city the most. At the end of the night, we count the ballots and the winner goes home with all of the money raised to carry out their project. Winners come back to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.

Our Mission:

Detroit SOUP’s mission is to promote community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun.

Our Values:

We value community, creativity, collaboration, change, democracy, trust and fun.

Our Vision for the Future of SOUP:

With key partnerships and community leaders, we hope Detroit SOUP will change the way people engage with the democratic process by establishing neighborhood relational hubs across the city.

What We Want to Do:

  • Empower residents
  • Help create jobs
  • Allow people to establish new relationships and networks
  • Promote action and change
  • Foster critical dialogue
  • Instill neighborhood pride
  • Provide a deeper understanding of democracy



As of 2015, SOUP events have raised more than $100,000 that have gone directly to community projects. Past SOUP winners have started nonprofits, local businesses, after school programs and park clean-ups.

SOUP offers a space where people can connect. The rest is up to attendees, but wonderful things can happen when people come together, and SOUP stories are evidence of that.

In SOUP’s 100+ dinners our diners have helped fund 45 projects, 39 nonprofits, and 25 for-profit enterprises. At least 31 of these projects would not have moved forward with their initiatives if it wasn’t for SOUP.

Breakdown of ideas that have received funding:

  • Art:26
  • Land Use: 16
  • Entrepreneurism: 28
  • Social Justice: 17
  • Urban Agriculture: 18
  • Education: 37
  • Technology: 1
  • Housing: 4
  • City Services: 9

800+ ideas have been submitted to Detroit SOUP
450+ ideas have pitched at SOUP
Over 15,000 people have attended a Detroit SOUP dinner

SOUP is located in 100 of the 138 sq miles of the city with our Neighborhood SOUP dinners.


2010 by kate


Detroit SOUP was founded in the Mexicantown neighborhood of Detroit in February 2010. Kate Daughdrill experienced the dinner from the orignators (InCUBATE, a research group dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and funding)  of the SOUP idea in Chicago and approached Jessica Hernandez whose family owned the Mexicantown Bakery that had a loft above that was being used for storage. After a group (Amy Kaherl, Katie Barkel, Vanessa Miller, Amanda LeClaire, Phreddy Wischuesen, Dan Demaggio, Erin Ellis, Tom Joseph) had collaborated on a Women’s event just months before continued to work together to make the dinner happen. It started because the group wanted to collaborate and work together while there was an idea that we felt could empower and connect the community while exploring new art practices.

2010 dinner time by kate daughdrill


Our first SOUP was in February of 2010 and a small group of people gathered for a meal and to envision the idea of SOUP in a loft above the Mexicantown Bakery. There were no presentations, just discussion. By April, we had our first winner (a Rust Belt Architecture photo book) and started getting traction: proposals started coming in, community members started to gather, interact, share a meal and build relationships.



In just over five years we have grown! We average about 200 people at each dinner and have found a permanent home in theJam Handy Building on E. Grand Blvd, just north of Midtown. The project has moved from funding artists to a wide variety of community members that need a little money to start their projects. The building has a rich history in the city.

We now partner with neighborhood groups across the city to help residents start and sustain neighborhood-specific dinners. In 2013, we started neighborhood SOUPs and have learned so much about what the overall community needs in places that the impacts of Downtown and Midtown often misses.


The Jam Handy Organization was started in 1932, located on East Grand Boulevard in order to be near his biggest client, General Motors, and its 80 affiliated companies. Over the subsequent decades, Jam Handy (an interesting gentleman on his own accord) went on to produce over 25,000 instructional films on seemingly every conceivable subject, including more than 7,000 training films for the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. If you’re curious about what these films looked like (and you should be!) check out his archive.

While the Jam Handy Organization has long ceased to exist and its once sprawling network of buildings lining East Grand Boulevard has mostly disappeared from the landscape, its legacy lives on. Behind the scenes and around the world, numerous technical advancements that continue to shape the contemporary film industry owe their existence to the Jam Handy Organization. And now, here in Detroit, with the ongoing revival of the JH’s former headquarters and main film stage, another scene–and a whole different kind of Jam Handy production–is taking place.

*IMPORTANT: SOUP does not do booking for the Jam Handy. For information on booking events at the Jam Handy, please email info [at] thejamhandy.com