Detroit grocery store owner to receive Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award

Raphael Wright decided to open his grocery store in an area that's considered a food desert in Detroit. It quickly became an integral part of the community. 

What started as a dream is now being recognized by the White House. Wright is one of several Detroiters set to be honored with the 2024 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday.

"It wasn’t something I ever thought about," Wright said, the owner of Neighborhood Grocery on Manistique Street in Detroit "I just wanted to do something for the neighborhood."

Raphael Wright is one of several Detroiters set to be honored with the 2024 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday, March 14.

Wright was featured on FOX 2 in October 2023, during the grand opening of Neighborhood Grocery.

With the aid of an $85,000 Motor City Match grant to get him over the finish line, Wright opened the business in an area that is lacking places to buy food and produce. It is the only full-service store within a two-mile radius.


Newly-opened Neighborhood Grocery in Detroit hopes to feed city starved of local food marts

"I had a vision of rebuilding the neighborhood and that starts with food," said owner Raphael Wright. Years in the making, Detroit's newest food cooperative hopes to fill in the city's gaps in local food marts.

Stocked on the store's shelves are a mix of Detroit favorites along with popular name-brands.

Wright said the list evolves based on customer demand. Through social media, he has attracted shoppers from outside the community as well.

Wright will receive his presidential recognition during a private ceremony in Detroit, alongside other members of the community who have made a difference — including Zeek Williams, the founder and CEO of New Era Detroit.

"I didn’t believe it. It's the highest office in the land, recognizing the work of people like myself," Wright said. "And I know that it’s coming through different channels of recommendation, but I’m grateful nonetheless that people are looking at the work people like me are doing."

Wright said he is still in disbelief but feels "deeply honored."

"It’s just giving me more drive to continue this type of work. I feel like I’m doing something right when it's being recognized at such a high level," he added.