April 30, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

Exploring Michigan’s Urban/Rural Divide

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization, whose board is comprised of several CMF members, released a new report: Exploring Michigan’s Urban/Rural Divide.

Amid a polarizing political climate, the council’s new report aims to provide a deeper understanding of what’s happening in our rural and urban areas, particularly how issues and topics affect the perspectives of Michiganders when it comes to immigration, housing, education, health care and more.

“With statewide elections scheduled this November for governor, secretary of state, and U.S. Senator, among others, we hope this report can drive a conversation on shared needs and goals,” Eric Lupher, president of the Citizens Research Council for Michigan said.  

Michigan is a largely rural state, as we’re ranked 24th in the U.S. for our rural population. However, 75 percent of Michiganders live in urban areas.

There are differences in these communities but as the council shares, the data shows urban and rural communities have more in common than not.

Key highlights from the report:


  • Our state is less diverse than the national average. About 79 percent of Michigan’s population is white, 14 percent is African-American and 4.7 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latinx.

  • Compared to rural communities, populations in urban communities are growing faster, have more diversity in race and ethnicity and include more immigrants from a wider cross section of nations.

  • Michigan’s urban areas are home to populations that are on average nearly 6 years younger than the rural populations.


  • In rural Michigan, 12.4 percent of the population relies on SNAP, while 18.1 percent of the urban population relies on SNAP.

  • Only 40 percent of rural communities have median household incomes greater than the state median household income of $49,576, while 47 percent of urban communities have household incomes higher than the state median.

  • Urban areas have a higher population living in poverty but they’re found in clusters, while in rural areas the poverty is evenly distributed statewide.

Health Care

  • Similar proportions of both populations utilize Medicaid and disability benefits. The data shows that while rural counties are more reliant on public insurance, Medicaid is used similarly in both settings. The weighted average of rural county residents enrolled in Medicaid was 14.5 percent; it was 14.6 percent for urban county residents.


  • The enrollment of 3 and 4-year-olds in preschool and the enrollment of children in public schools is similar in both urban and rural areas.

  • When it comes to higher education, college enrollment is higher in urban areas. In urban areas, 48.3 percent of individuals age 18 to 24 are enrolled in college or graduate school; that number is 32.8 percent in rural areas.


  • The report states, “Major disparities exist between urban and rural areas in Michigan on the topic of immigration.” Urban areas have many more foreign-born individuals than rural areas. In urban Michigan, 7.7 percent of the total population is foreign-born, while in rural areas only 1.9 percent of individuals are foreign-born. On average, immigrants living in rural areas have been in the U.S. longer than those living in urban areas.

The report highlights how the data shows our perspectives may be shaped by our environment and how we should work together for a greater understanding of all communities to build a prosperous Michigan for all.

“The statistics compiled for this report illustrate the many ways in which Michigan’s urban and rural areas are alike and different,” the report states. “The number of statistics wherein the differences between people in geographic areas was stark are few. In the end, we’re left with an understanding that in the battle of us versus them, we’re all us and we’re all them.”

“Just recently our Rural Philanthropy Affinity Group discussed the most pressing issues facing our communities and the areas in which we could, as funders, make a difference by shifting our financial or social capitals,” Bonnie Gettys, co-chair, Rural Philanthropy Affinity Group and president and CEO, Barry Community Foundation said. “Those areas of talent, housing and education are the same as the areas that our urban partners face. The challenge is the notion that funding into a smaller population base may not be the most effective use of grant dollars, however, we know that we all depend on each other. We need to become more intentional with a unified voice for the most pressing issues.”

Want more?

Read the full report.

Connect with CMF’s Rural Philanthropy Affinity Group.







MI Dept. of Civil Rights Leverages TRHT Work to Address Systemic Racism

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) is providing an inside look at key steps the department is taking to address systemic racism in communities across the state, including extensive work with the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) framework developed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF).

The action steps are detailed in MDCR’s latest report, which is a one-year progress update on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s year-long investigation and subsequent report, The Flint Water Crisis: Systemic Racism Through the Lens of Flint.

“In 2017, the commission outlined seven principal recommendations in the Flint Report. Many are beyond the control of the department or the commission; some are generational at best,” Agustin Arbulu, director, MDCR said. “Though the commission’s recommendations may be aspirational, they provide us with a road map to follow and make incremental steps forward.”

MDCR details the steps it’s taken following the 2017 report, not only in Flint but in communities across the state.

In the report, MDCR said it has adopted the TRHT framework, working in collaboration with WKKF and CMF, by committing resources to the TRHT framework in the four Michigan TRHT sites; Flint, Lansing, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.

The WKKF's TRHT effort is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

CMF is supporting the Michigan TRHT effort through a $4.2 million grant from WKKF, which is currently underway in the four Michigan sites. 

The report shares that MDCR assisted partners in Grand Rapids in the launch of a critical body of racial equity work, centered on healing and transformation, following reports of racial incidents involving law enforcement and the African-American community. The MDCR is also linking its engagement with TRHT to its Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT) initiatives in Michigan, utilizing the framework to serve as an effective facilitator between communities of color and law enforcement statewide. The 10 ALPACT communities have engaged in conversations in an effort to share perspectives and build trust.

As CMF has reported, MDCR is also leveraging the TRHT framework working in partnership with the Kalamazoo Community Foundation where racial equity efforts are working to address fair housing in Kalamazoo, training of city employees and more.

MDCR states in the report that it’s “also working with CMF and the TRHT State Advisory Council to maximize possibilities for positive impact and success in these communities, promoting engagement and identifying opportunities to bring this process to other communities across the state.”

In addition to the TRHT work underway, MDCR outlined several action steps the department is taking, highlights include:

  • Integrating a racial equity framework into all MDCR internal processes and public initiatives.

  • Hiring the first racial equity officer within Michigan state government. The officer, Alfredo Hernandez, will work to build capacity to operationalize a racial equity lens and sustain long-term implementation of equity with local government.

  • Building the department’s capacity and knowledge base in the areas of implicit bias and structural racism, with a special focus on educating local units of government in providing racial equity training to all personnel. MDCR is working with the Michigan Department of Education and other organizations to develop comprehensive racial equity training for leaders statewide within the government and school systems. They will be launching a pilot program at the end of this year.

  • Increasing community engagement efforts by assigning MDCR staff to community liaison positions in vulnerable communities throughout Michigan.

  • Placing civil rights investigators on-site at organizations in various Michigan communities to provide education on civil rights issues and take complaints, with an initial emphasis on reaching African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and Arab Americans in Flint, Detroit and Grand Rapids. Investigators also provide presentations and education on civil rights laws, housing, employment and other important topics. In about 17 months, investigators working on-site in a Grand Rapids neighborhood received 173 requests for service and investigated 64 complaints. MDCR says it would like to expand this work to other areas including Muskegon, Jackson, Western Wayne County and Macomb County.

“The Flint Water Report was a groundbreaking examination of the role race and racism played in creating a public health crisis of historic proportions,” Arbulu said. “The department of civil rights is committed to learning from this crisis and using the tools and resources at our disposal to realize real change. We have a long way to go before we achieve racial equity in Michigan, but we are committed to the journey.”

Want more?

Read MDCR’s full report.

Learn more about TRHT.

Check out WKKF’s new report: The Business Case for Racial Equity.







New Guide Provides Steps to Building Stronger Communities

Currently almost 15 percent of the population is over the age of 65 and within the next decade that number will double and continue to grow until seniors outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.

Even if your foundation doesn’t specifically serve seniors, Grantmakers in Aging (GIA) says “almost any focus that guides your grantmaking will be bolstered by incorporating aging.”

GIA has unveiled All Together: GIA’s Comprehensive Guide to Funding in Aging for those who work in the space or those who may be interested in exploring innovative approaches to support aging communities but may not have a specialized background.

GIA’s fast facts:

  • More than one-third of the approximately 65 million Americans who are providing care for aging parents or a family member with a disability are between the ages of 50 and 64.

  • 2.6 million grandparents are responsible for raising their grandchildren.

  •  Nearly three-quarters of adults age 65-74 report being in good health, with 25 percent of those 65 plus reporting they are in very good or excellent health.

  • About one out of four adults age 55 plus volunteer in their community.

  • Americans are staying in the workforce longer. In 2016, more than 18 percent of people 65 plus were still in the labor force.

As GIA highlights how families and communities benefit from our aging population, it also provides a step-by-step guide on how you can get started funding aging issues.


  • Conduct a community needs assessment to determine the needs of seniors in your area.

  • Dive into these resources to gather a demographic overview and basic information of older adults.

  • GIA provides a brief guide on determining how your foundation’s work can connect with aging opportunities. For instance, ask yourself, “does your foundation have focus areas or patterns of interest in grantmaking that could be expanded to include older people?”

  • Connect with local funders to see what work they’re doing in this area via CMF’s Michigan Grantmakers in Aging Affinity Group.

As opportunities may emerge for your foundation to connect with aging issues, GIA provides information on grantmaking in several topic areas such as: children, youth and families; arts and culture; communities; health; education; work and transitions, to help you narrow your focus.

For instance, GIA highlights how intergenerational programs and services connect and grow the skills and talents of youth and seniors, building stronger communities.

“For too long, supporting programs for children and youth or for older adults was too often viewed as a zero-sum game,” GIA states. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Grantmakers can play a critical role by supporting strategies that connect children and youth with older people in ways that benefit all.”

There’s also resources on how grantmakers can support seniors who wish to remain in the workforce. Considering the workforce shortage we are facing with the shift in age demographics, encore careers and engaging seniors will become increasingly more important.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Encore program is an example of what this work may look like in action. The program seeks to raise awareness about the talented and skilled community of older individuals, leverage their skills and experience to improve the community and build connections to paid and unpaid opportunities.

Want more?

Check out All Together: GIA’s Comprehensive Guide to Funding in Aging.

CMF’s Michigan Grantmakers in Aging (MGIA) Affinity Group is currently developing a breakout session for funders to learn about the issues facing our communities and solutions to support our aging population for CMF’s 46th Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, October 7-9.








Community Foundation of Marquette County’s unique community leadership role in partnership with mining company sets standard of excellence worldwide

Our rural philanthropy video series continues this month as we highlight the Community Foundation of Marquette County in the latest video, Unconventional Partnerships for Rural Prosperity.

Through the leadership of the Community Foundation of Marquette County, a unique partnership developed that included the Eagle Mine company and the Superior Watershed Partnership. The three entities are working together to ensure prosperous, healthy and sustainable outcomes for the people, environment and the economy in Marquette County.

Recognizing the importance of transparency and community trust, when Eagle Mine began mining operations in the UP it offered to provide access to the monitoring of the downstream environmental impact of the mine operations to the community.

The community foundation provided leadership and guidance to make it happen.

“We were really the neutral party,” Gail Anthony, executive director of the community foundation said. “Eagle Mine was willing to support it financially and the Superior Watershed Partnership was willing to do the third-party monitoring. The money was directed through the community foundation to the Superior Watershed Partnership and we had dispute resolution plans, so it would give all three parties the integrity that we needed.”

Through this work, the environmental reports and data are easily accessible to the community through the Superior Watershed Partnership’s website.

“I’m really proud of the fact that we did it, hung in there and continue to do it and it’s become a program that’s being touted worldwide so I’m proud that we stuck it out,” Anthony said.

The Eagle Mine has also set up a fund through the community foundation to support the Eagle Mine Technical Middle College Endowment Fund. The purpose of the fund is to benefit Marquette Alger Technical Middle College.

Check out the full video.

This video is the final installment in our 2018 rural philanthropy video series featuring innovative work underway by members serving rural communities.

The CMF Rural Philanthropy Affinity Group led the development of this series so members can learn from their peers about the creative and innovative solutions happening in Michigan’s rural places to improve the lives of residents.

Want more?

Check out the complete rural philanthropy video series: 

Sturgis Area Community Foundation: Impact Investing for Economic Development

Rotary Charities of Traverse City: Providing Equitable Access to the Waterfront

Pennies from Heaven Foundation: Workforce Development

Placemaking: Nurturing Talent and Bringing it Home

Community Foundation of Marquette County: Unconventional Partnerships for Rural Prosperity

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