The Download Archive

The Download

March 29, 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021

ALICE Report Data Informs the Path to Economic Stability for Michigan

The 2021 ALICE Report for Michigan released by the Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) and funded by Consumers Energy Foundation, is providing new insights into economic challenges for Michigan residents, pre-pandemic.

Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, known as ALICE, comprises households that earn wages above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and therefore are not eligible for benefits but earn less than the basic cost of living in the state. 

According to the report, in 2019 13% of Michigan households earned below the FPL and 25% were considered to fall within the range of ALICE, meaning that a total of 38% of Michiganders are living below the ALICE threshold and struggling to afford basic necessities. 

Understanding the economic conditions throughout Michigan in 2019 provides critical insights into why COVID-19 has been economically devastating to so many Michigan residents:

•    The cost of living has been increased for ALICE households; the cost of household essentials increased at an average rate of 3.4% annually nationwide over the past decade.

•    The economy is dominated by low-wage jobs and more fluctuations in job hours, schedules and benefits. In 2019, 58% of Michigan workers were paid by the hour and 58% of the state’s jobs paid less than $20 per hour. 

•    The number of ALICE households in Michigan increased during the Great Recession and have never recovered. ALICE households rose from 19% in 2007 to 25% in 2019, never returning to pre-Recession levels. 

Data at a glance:

•    The cost of basic necessities for ALICE households was significantly more than the FPL. The Average Household Survival Budget in Michigan was $23,400 for a single adult and $64,116 for a family of four compared to the FPL of $12,490 for a single adult and $25,750 for a family of four.  

•    31% of households below the ALICE threshold did not have an internet subscription in 2019.  

•    58% of college students were experiencing basic needs insecurity.

•    People of color were disproportionately affected with 60% of Black households and 48% of Hispanic households below the ALICE threshold.  

•    The number of households below the ALICE threshold increased by 4% for Black households, 25% for Hispanic households, and 41% for Asian households in 2019.                              

 •   Seniors accounted for 35% of all households below the ALICE threshold.

•    Married-parent families accounted for 30% of families with children living below the ALICE threshold. 

The report builds on the data to highlight the economic benefit of bringing all households to the ALICE threshold, growing Michigan’s GDP by 18%. 

According to the report, a $1 increase in compensation for workers receiving lower wages leads to increased economic activity that would be valued at $43.9 billion in Michigan. 

The report shares other economic benefits of additional earnings including an added $1.7 billion in tax revenue. 

In 2019, Michigan’s GDP showed community spending of $57.9 billion to assist households below the ALICE threshold. The report highlights that if these households can meet their basic needs, this spending can be relocated to other projects and programs to help communities thrive. 

A few positive impacts of sufficient income for basic needs identified in the report:

•    Safe and affordable housing: Improved health through safer environments, less traffic, lower crime rates and less community spending on homelessness and social services.

•    Food: Decreased likelihood of developmental delays for children, lower health care costs and less spending on emergency food services. 

•    Child care and education: Higher lifetime earnings, improved job stability and a decrease in income disparities. 

As the report shares, “This data can help policymakers and community organizations identify gaps in community resources and it can guide businesses in finding additional ways to assist their workforce and increase productivity.”

CMF members and staff shared the ALICE data with our policymakers during Foundations on the Hill last week and we will continue to use the data to inform conversations with policymakers and partners.

Want more?

Read the full report.

Join the CMF community on April 9 for Michigan Responds: The Now, The Near and The Far Through COVID-19 and Beyond where Michigan's charitable sector leaders will discuss current needs and challenges our communities and nonprofits are experiencing, one year after their first pandemic-era conversation event together. 




The Power of Partnerships: MI Philanthropy in Action

Over the last two weeks, members of our CMF community have engaged with policymakers during the first-ever virtual Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). 

In a series of 17 individual meetings, CMF members lifted up powerful stories of how philanthropy and government have worked in partnership to serve Michigan communities through the pandemic and beyond. 

In one of our congressional meetings, Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation (MACF), described an extensive collaborative response effort to the dual crisis of the pandemic and the historic 500-year flood in the Great Lakes Bay Region last May.

Mortensen shared that one of the community foundation’s first steps in response to the pandemic was to bring together a coalition of community leaders from government, business, public health, education, nonprofits and philanthropy to identify issues and solutions. 

Their efforts included programs specifically launched to address gaps between the start of the pandemic and the time government programs were available.

“When facing any kind of crisis, it’s important to make sure that all voices are included in our efforts to do good in our communities. A crisis demands quick action but we have to be careful to truly listen while moving swiftly to make sure we are inclusive of all voices so our solutions can be those that are equitable to all residents,” Mortensen told CMF. 

It was nearly a year ago when the 500-year flooding event paired with infrastructure failures devastated Mid-Michigan. 

“Reflecting on the past year and the dual crisis we faced with the pandemic and the dam failures and resulting flooding, I am grateful for the way our community came together to help one another – it has been so inspiring to see,” Mortensen told CMF. 

Jenee Velasquez, executive director of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation and CMF trustee, joined Mortensen in talking about the coordinated response of local philanthropy in partnership with government. 

“The one-two punch of the global pandemic and devastating flood widened gaps and created new needs for our ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) population along with those in poverty and an emerging group facing situational financial crisis. Our public–private partnerships maximize resources. For example, our community banks expedited interest-free loans along with SBA loans while our food pantries and schools distributed food,” Velasquez told CMF.  

FOTH offered the opportunity for philanthropy to share these stories with policymakers. 

“Storytelling is a powerful way to connect lawmakers with people in their districts and it was an honor to be able to share a story from our community. Stories inspire and connect people on a deeper level than the use of facts and figures, and that was evident during our meeting,” Mortensen told CMF. 

“It’s an honor and privilege to join our colleagues in sharing stories about our work and the work of our grantee partners with those developing policies that impact our ability to build thriving, equitable communities,” Velasquez told CMF. 

The meetings with Michigan officials also served as an opportunity to learn about the issues that are top of mind for them. 

“It’s helpful to hear from policymakers and understand their concerns and questions. Having small groups on the virtual meetings enabled us to have more time to listen and to share,” Mortensen said.

We look forward to lifting up the power of partnerships beyond FOTH as CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team continues to organize and facilitate opportunities for our CMF community to engage with policymakers year-round.



Exploring How Households Make Giving Decisions 

Women Give 2021: How Households Make Giving Decisions, a report by The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, offers a glimpse into how the giving dynamics are changing. 

According to the report, the changing patterns of women becoming increasingly prominent in the workforce have structurally shifted the labor market and the earnings of a household. The importance of women’s income has grown and has had effects on the dynamics of charitable giving.

The report shares that today, women are the primary provider in about 40% of households with children, compared to 50 years ago when it was 15% of such households.

Their study uses data from a WPI survey on U.S. household charitable decision making, building on previous studies. The survey was conducted online in mid-May 2020 among a general population sample of 3,499 respondents. The report only analyzed the household dynamics of married or cohabitant couples. 

Key findings from the report:

•    61.5% of couples make charitable giving decisions jointly, a decline from 2005 when 73.4% made charitable giving decisions jointly. 

•    In households where one partner makes the decisions, it is more likely to be a woman (15.3%).

•    1.1% of couples consult a financial or philanthropy advisor about their giving decisions. 

•    75% of couples agree on the giving amounts and recipients and 73.6% of couples are having conversations about giving throughout a year. 

•    On average, households where men decide tend to give the most and separately deciding households give the least.

•    Older households and households with children under 18 are more likely to make giving decisions jointly.

•    Younger couples and more religious couples are more likely to have the man make giving decisions alone.

•    When there is an educational gap, the partner with greater education is more likely to make giving decisions alone, whether a man or a woman.

The report aims to provide insights to both donors and nonprofit leaders in an effort to deepen relationships and increase giving. 

Want more?

Read the full report. 



Mariam Noland Announces Plans for Retirement Following 36 Years at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), announced her plans to retire at the end of 2021. CMF is grateful for Mariam’s incredible leadership not only in Southeast Michigan but across our state, our CMF community and our sector. We are sharing a message from CFSEM’s board chair honoring Mariam. You can also read the full press release from CFSEM

A Message from Jim Nicholson, Chair, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

When Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, told me her plan to retire at the end of this year, I had mixed emotions. Mariam’s leadership has been a force for change in our seven-county region. She and the community foundation have had a hand in countless transformational projects to improve life in southeast Michigan over the last three decades. But it’s her less obvious impact of building endowment to sustain our region’s charitable sector that particularly impresses me. Over her tenure as the organization’s founding president, the community foundation has granted more than $1.2 billion to nonprofit organizations and amassed more than $1 billion in assets, becoming a key resource for those who wish to make positive change in our region.

On the other hand, she and her spouse Jim Kelly deserve time to enjoy family and friends, to travel, and to experience a little down time. I can rest easy knowing that the high-performing organization that Mariam created is well-positioned to continue its important work.

Joe Hudson, the visionary founding board chair of the community foundation who passed earlier this year, recruited Mariam from the St. Paul Community Foundation in 1985. Joe felt that a source of permanent, flexible endowment was a missing piece of our civic fabric in southeast Michigan, and he became the champion for establishing a community foundation in our region. He knew that finding the right leader would be critical to establishing the type of resource he envisioned. He couldn’t have known how perfect Mariam would be for the job.

In the next 36 years, Mariam would lead the community foundation through some of its most challenging episodes including Detroit’s bankruptcy and the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Grand Bargain” preserved retiree pensions and cultural assets. COVID-19 relief funds sustained small businesses, arts and culture institutions, and nonprofit health providers. Mariam also helped to create transformational change in our region by supporting the development of 100 miles of greenways trails and bringing stakeholders together to launch the New Economy Initiative (NEI), which supports entrepreneurship in Detroit and in the region. In 2020, the Community Foundation had a record year, awarding $104 million in grants.

In the coming months, the board will conduct a national search to find the next Community Foundation president. We will find a successor, but there will never be another Mariam Noland.

News type: