Hometown Help Supports Solution Building with Local Businesses
While small businesses across Michigan navigate the challenges of operating during the pandemic, minority-owned businesses have been hit especially hard. The Community Foundation of St. Clair County is working to help business owners of color and women business owners gain access to capital and build a community support network.
“It became very clear after the first rounds of stimulus money were brought into our community that minority-owned businesses were not being included,” Randy Maiers, the community foundation’s president and CEO said. “This wasn’t because of any malicious intent; we found that minority small business owners just weren’t in the loop and didn’t have the connections to learn how to access relief funds.”
A report from the Federal Reserve notes that nationally, Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic due to lack of funding and rescue loans provided by the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Only 20% of PPP loans were granted in areas with high concentrations of Black-owned businesses.
To combat this lack of funding, the community foundation turned to a local entrepreneur and business consultant, Kanchan Wankhede of Blue Water Startups & Entrepreneurs. Wankhede was hired by the community foundation to provide consulting services and support to minority-owned businesses in the area, particularly in accessing small business aid funds through state and federal programs.
“We brought her in to help our local small businesses to be prepared for the next round of stimulus money,” Maiers said. “Back in March and April we didn’t have the luxury of time to sit and think about a plan with metrics and deliverables; it was a horrible crisis and we had to act.”
The hiring of Wankhede was in part the result of efforts by the community foundation’s Equity and Inclusion Committee, which was established earlier this year. As CMF reported, the committee’s first priority was supporting minority- and women-owned businesses in St. Clair County.
“Having Kanchan—a woman and minority business owner in our community—was important for us to build trust with those we were hoping to serve,” Maiers said.
With additional support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the community foundation and Wankhede began working with businesses owners to connect them to resources and information that would prepare them to receive state and federal stimulus dollars in the future, all while strengthening the network of minority-owned businesses in St. Clair County. Using its own connections, CFSCC has rallied local businesses, nonprofits and other entities to champion these businesses through the economic downturn.
Maiers estimates that Wankhede is currently working with over 60 clients through her contract with the community foundation. Because of the high demand for her services and her credibility in the local business community, the community foundation has extended her contract beyond its initial agreement.
“She’s really building trust with the local minority-owned business community,” Maiers said. “It’s not like having someone from some other part of the state or the country come in to help — we have someone right here in our hometown that they can call for help.”
Maiers said this investment has been vital not just for businesses to survive the pandemic but to thrive in the community now and beyond.
“We’re not a community foundation that just focuses on basic needs,” Maiers said. “We really have a lens on prosperity and growth for everyone in our community.”
Learn more about Kanchan Wankhede and her work in St. Clair County.
Ahead of Giving Tuesday, Michigan Nonprofits Share Challenges and Opportunities
As the year draws to a close, nonprofits across the country are taking stock of their ability to continue serving communities in 2021 and beyond.
According to a report from the Center for Civil Social Studies, the nonprofit sector lost over 900,000 jobs nationwide since February, a 7.3% decline. Those impacted the most include workers in nonprofit healthcare, education, social assistance and arts and culture organizations.
To better understand the state of the sector in Michigan, the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) has launched a survey asking nonprofit leaders to share insights on the impacts of COVID-19, particularly on their organizations’ financial stability.
While MNA says early results shared in the survey that’s still open look promising, many are concerned for the long-term sustainability of their organizations through the pandemic.
“We’re finding at this very moment, that in terms of financials, nonprofits are okay,” Donna Murray-Brown, MNA’s president and CEO said. “Things aren’t great—obviously—but, overall, they’re managing. Some nonprofits applied for grants previously and that funding has carried them through this year. I am concerned about next year. There is a lot of uncertainty about 2021 and the year after that.”
While some have indicated they have obtained enough funding to stay in operation through the end of the year, the negative impacts of canceled fundraising events are still being felt.
Organizations on the front lines in their communities—particularly food banks, youth centers and other community-based support organizations— have been stretched thin by the increased need for services.
Nonprofit closures could have detrimental effects on Michigan communities, especially those with high populations of marginalized people.
“As we move farther along into 2021, we will likely see some nonprofits dissolve,” Murray-Brown said. Communities of color are typically those that need resources that nonprofits provide—and what concerns me when it comes to closures is—how we can support those marginalized communities that relied on those services?”
As the holiday season dawns, nonprofits are eager to engage in fundraising efforts to support their long-term sustainability.
Giving Tuesday—slated for December 1, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—is a nationwide campaign that promotes giving to nonprofit and charitable organizations after Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending. Since 2012, nonprofit organizations have utilized special campaigns to promote donations to prepare for the next calendar year.
According to Murray-Brown, Giving Tuesday is a unique opportunity for Michiganders to support organizations they care about at a time when they need it most.
“With Giving Tuesday coming up, I want people to recognize how utterly important it is for them to continue to donate to their favorite organizations and even support a new organization,” she said. “This is an opportunity for donors to have a direct impact and maybe even give a little more this year because the demand and need are greater.”
Read the Center for Civil Social Studies’ report on the state of the nonprofit sector.
Share MNA’s Nonprofit COVID-19 Impact Survey with your nonprofit partners to ensure MNA and our community of philanthropy receive comprehensive information on the needs of nonprofits in our state.
McGregor Fund Announces $1.2 Million in Grants for Racial Equity
The McGregor Fund recently announced its next round of grantmaking totaling $1.2 million to 13 Detroit-area nonprofits whose work focuses on racial equity.
Grants have a particular focus on advancing racial equity and justice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the McGregor Fund has committed itself to addressing the root causes of inequities in the criminal justice system and to supporting Black-led organizations making an impact in Detroit.
The grants fall into four categories:
Recovery & Restoration: Six grants—totaling $590,000—were made to organizations working to support people living in conditions of crisis, including addiction and gang life. Some grantees include Family Assistance for Renaissance Men, Vista Maria and Wayne County SAFE.
Basic Needs: $295,000 went to four organizations supporting Detroiters’ access to food, shelter and other necessities, including access to technology for remote work and learning. Grantees include Accounting Aid Society, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Human-I-T and Zaman International.
Youth Development: A total of $110,000 was granted to two organizations—Downtown Boxing Gym and InsideOut Literary Arts—to support their programs’ transition to online formats in the wake of COVID-19.
Additionally, the McGregor Fund announced its support of the FORCE Detroit awards honoring over 100 Detroiters for their role in supporting resident safety and violence intervention in the city. Other CMF members sponsoring the awards include The Ford Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Hudson-Webber Foundation and The Skillman Foundation.