April 6, 2020

Monday, April 6, 2020

We're sharing the latest updates, best practices and learning opportunities emerging from Michigan philanthropy.


Message to Our Community of Philanthropy

From Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of CMF

We have been examining what equity means to our community of Michigan philanthropy. I could not have envisioned how prescient it would be for our sector—for our communities—during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today we see the challenges of equity in real-time as infection and fatality rates skyrocket with no clear end in sight. These are our friends, our neighbors, colleagues, constituents, our leaders—each suffering effects of this pandemic.

As a person of color and a leader of one of our nation’s leading philanthropy membership organizations, I sometimes find it difficult to determine when it’s best to call out inequities. I worry that some might assume I have a personal agenda rather than knowing I’m championing an issue for our sector, but we are called to step up to the challenges and complexities of equity in every aspect of our leadership and of our lives.

The coronavirus pandemic is one of the greatest challenges our community of philanthropy has addressed. The spread of the disease through our communities is affecting everyone, however our responses can have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable, those most marginalized based on biases, including race and other forms of structural discrimination. We’re working to control the spread of the disease through physical distancing while trying to provide services and support to those in need; it is difficult to find the right way for philanthropy to respond and hold up our values. 

Personally, and professionally, individually and collectively, our leaders and our philanthropic organizations are being pressured like no other time in recent memory. Demands include filling immediate needs gaps and working with nonprofits in a radically changing economy where traditional fundraising and engagement of donors are closed off while thinking long-term about how we’ll assemble the critical pieces of our nonprofit ecosystem once this crisis subsides.

Throughout it all the issues of equity, or inequity, can be multiplied during this pandemic. As we consider our work ahead, and the question, “What does equity mean to our community of philanthropy?” I offer some examples for us to explore and to share. 

  • As a result of the federal CARES Act there has been a tremendous inflow of resources through the banking industry to provide capital in the form of forgivable loans to small businesses, including nonprofits. Initial efforts were deployed to educate banks and nonprofits to help them understand how to access this capital, but education and awareness may not be enough. Access to capital was a clear challenge for many underrepresented communities during the Great Recession. Will we see a repeat of that same trend in the midst of this crisis? Nonprofits without deep and significant relationships with the banking industry may be cast aside for customers with larger financial footprints. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), designed to work with mission-driven businesses in communities have not been held up as the most logical conduit for lending and little guidance has been given to promote their potential roles. If nonprofits are to be included in the capital flows to small businesses, what are the equity implications for access to capital if banks (overwhelmed by demand) have to focus on their largest and most loyal customers rather than entertaining loan requests from new inquiries, particularly from nonprofits?

  • The closure of K-12 schools for the remainder of the current year rightly puts public health first as we strive to protect children, teachers and staff, and slow the spread of COVID-19. As educators face an incredible challenge to teach Michigan’s 1,444,313 K-12 students in a remote setting, many families face a different kind of challenge – lacking reliable broadband and an appropriate device. What are the equity implications of relying on school districts to locally ensure students have this access and the tools they need to learn? 

  • The U.S. Census Day was April 1; Michigan was ranked third in the country for Census Day responses. We’ve now passed a 50% response rate for Census 2020. Access to the internet is even more important this year as the Census Bureau has paired back its paper and in-person outreach efforts to ensure the safety of their workers and communities. What are the equity implications of ensuring everyone is counted?

Each of these challenges amplifies the profound inequities the most vulnerable experience every day, and even more so during this extreme crisis. Both the public sector and philanthropy are working together and independently to understand the best solutions. Our community of philanthropy is responding. Since the onset of this crisis, foundations large and small in every area of the state are actively engaged in local and regional philanthropic initiatives to help meet essential needs, support our nonprofit service providers and explore ways to support small businesses struggling to survive this crisis.

Several examples are featured in this issue, such as the Virtual Healing Project led by Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Kalamazoo, and new, adapted efforts to continue census outreach led by the Great Lakes Bay Regional Census Hub.

CMF’s COVID-19 Resource Central site features a variety of community solutions we’re seeing across the state. The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation’s short-term cash flow loan program, for example, provides 180-day max loans ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to nonprofits seeking to support operational cash needs. These grants are made available as part of a $500,000 revolving fund to provide bridge or gap support as nonprofits work to align their business models in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic slowdown. This is just one aspect of the foundation’s response.

In addition to these efforts (and many more we will highlight in the future), CMF members are developing practices to provide the agility and support they need to help communities weather this crisis and doing so with an equity lens. CMF and more than 20 of our members have signed the Council on Foundations’ COVID-19 Pledge expressing a commitment to support grantees and hold philanthropy accountable to eight core principles. 

Over the weeks and months to come, we will all be offered challenges and opportunities to ask ourselves what equity means to our community of philanthropy during this struggle to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CMF is proud to stand alongside you by providing the information, resources, connectivity and mobilization support you need to lead. I invite you to visit our Resource Central site to access a calendar of upcoming virtual learning opportunities featuring peer-to-peer exchanges and conversations with issue area experts and policymakers. The site also includes a robust FAQ, state news, policy alerts, direct support through Ask CMF and much more. Please let us know how we can support your trustees, staff, partner nonprofits and communities.

For me, social isolation is so foreign. It has been difficult not to be in my car traversing the state visiting with you especially during this time of stress and concern. I am fortunate that my wife, Juliann and I are getting quality time and our two children are staying healthy. We are staying connected and trying to provide help to others (albeit remotely).

Please know we are thinking of you and yours and hoping you are healthy and safe. Thank you for your work and know that CMF is here as we all get through this, together.

All the best,






Michiganders in Need: Michigan 2-1-1 Inundated with COVID-19 Calls

We are seeing urgent needs emerging from communities across the state as the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 are beginning to surface.

Michigan 2-1-1, a United Way network and a free service that connects Michigan residents to human services agencies and resources, is currently inundated with calls from those who need access to services or resources.

On average, Michigan 2-1-1 is receiving 500 additional calls each day to address COVID-19 questions, concerns and resource requests.

According to 2-1-1 data, the top five referrals for callers include:

  • Food pantries

  • Health information

  • Utility assistance

  • Rent payment assistance

  • Unemployment insurance

Since 2-1-1 began tracking COVID-19 related calls, they’ve provided referrals to more than 380 different services. So far, the service has received more than 7,700 COVID-19 related calls.

We reached out to Mike Larson, president and CEO of Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW), Michigan 2-1-1 board member at large and MAUW representative, to share what he is seeing at the state level during this crisis.

Larson said it’s clear Michiganders are truly in need of basic services.

“United Ways across the state are mobilizing both the human and financial resources to ensure that ALICE families (those who are asset limited, income constrained and employed) and individuals have access to basic necessities they desperately need to make it through this crisis,” Larson said.

Michigan 2-1-1 is working in partnership with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and agencies across her administration as well as with the Michigan Community Services Commission, regional 2-1-1 centers, MAUW and other key partners to coordinate response efforts.

“Having the foundation of response efforts operationalized, much of our focus is shifting towards continuing to assess our data to better understand how we can mobilize our networks to address changing needs and capacity building for 2-1-1 centers,” Hassan Hammoud, executive director of Michigan 2-1-1 told CMF. “2-1-1 is currently working with local United Way partners to identify opportunities to leverage staff and volunteer networks to help increase capacity for the statewide 2-1-1 centers.”

Michigan 2-1-1 recognizes the need for increased capacity during the pandemic and long term.

Many CMF members are working in concert with local United Ways, activating response funds to address community needs. A listing of 20 active response and relief funds is featured on CMF’s Resource Central site.

CMF is convening weekly calls with MAUW, the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), and the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) to coordinate efforts around emergency assistance especially as it relates to fiscal and human capital. We’ve also coordinated policy efforts. As one example, CMF, MNA and MAUW sent a joint letter to Michigan’s congressional delegation seeking their support for our nonprofit partners.

We will continue to stay closely connected as response efforts across the state continue.






Census 2020: Shifts in Strategy

Though the U.S. Census Bureau continues to temporarily pause field operations due to the pandemic, we are seeing Michigan’s self-response rate grow, mostly due to online participation.

Michigan is currently ranked number three among states in the U.S. when it comes to high response rates. As of Sunday night, Michigan's self-response rate was more than 51%, with more than 44% of those responses submitted online.

The U.S. Census Bureau is encouraging online participation as the Bureau is experiencing capacity challenges at its call centers due to staffing adjustments connected to COVID-19.

In a statement, the Bureau shared, “The Census Bureau is working to mitigate the impact on 2020 Census call centers. In limited instances, these staffing adjustments have led to increases in call wait times, affecting different languages at different times. We are actively working to reduce these wait times as we continue to offer phone support in English and 12 additional languages.”

Meanwhile, regional census hubs led by or in partnership with several CMF member community foundations are continuing to work with nonprofit partners doing on-the-ground outreach to ensure census participation in historically undercounted communities.

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Census Hub which includes Midland Area Community Foundation in collaboration with Bay Area Community Foundation, Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation and Saginaw Community Foundation, shared with CMF that plans with their grantees and local partners “have shifted due to COVID-19 and its effects in this community.”

Here’s a snapshot of what the hub and its partners are doing for outreach during this pandemic:

  • Local school partners are including information from the hub’s local census toolkit in food distributions to community members.

  • Local colleges are reaching out to students to make sure they are counted for the Great Lakes Bay region, even if they have returned to their hometowns.

  • Digital and media promotions have increased. The hub’s nonprofit partners are increasing their posts on social media and promoting the census in radio interviews in hopes of reaching all who are sheltering at home.

The hub shares that a Great Lakes Bay Digital Census Week is also in the works for late April to spotlight local leaders and local celebrities promoting the census digitally.

Through the Nonprofits Complete Count Campaign (NPCCC), led by the Michigan Nonprofit Association, there are 13 regional hubs in total, covering every region of our state. Eleven CMF member community foundations are leading as regional hubs in communities around the state.

Want more?

CMF encourages you to promote census participation on your own social media channels. The Bureau provides social media graphics and language you can download and use to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to respond to the census.

Connect with the latest from the NPCCC. You can see what’s emerging from regional census hubs and receive blogs.  

Stay connected with updates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Go online now to fill out your census form today!





Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Kalamazoo Launches Virtual Healing Project in Response to COVID-19

Excerpted and adapted from a foundation press release.

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Kalamazoo has launched its Virtual Healing Project in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was created to continue to develop and deepen relationships, share resources and support the community collectively during this crisis. 

"Many have recognized this time as an opportunity to do personal, interpersonal and societal healing work," Sholanna Lewis, director of TRHT Kalamazoo, which is hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF), said. "The moment asks us to reflect on what transformations need to happen to overcome current challenges and create the future we want to see."

The Virtual Healing Project kicked off on Thursday with a townhall hosted via TRHT's Facebook Live. The townhall focused on how different cultures approach social distancing, the overall goals for the Virtual Healing Project and what resources and programming are of interest to the community.

The project will include creating unique, free weekly online offerings by local leaders, artists and healing practitioners, such as:

  • Discussion spaces on key issues and TRHT design team projects using a townhall format.

  • TRutH Talks - small group discussions to lift up voices and experiences of local residents. 

  • Art and performances.

  • Wellness workshops (movement, meditation, grief management, etc.).

  • Small group spaces for book clubs, healing discussions and more.

  • Poetry and short wisdom pieces with invitations for reflection. 

For those who are unable to attend Virtual Healing Project sessions, the content will be shared on the TRHT social media pages.

TRHT Kalamazoo, hosted by KZCF, is a community-based movement to bring about transformational and sustainable change to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

Want more?

Connect with TRHT Kalamazoo.







ACCESS Provides Free Drive-Through COVID-19 Testing

The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) has provided free drive-through testing for doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters and others on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), in just one weekend ACCESS provided 562 free tests at locations in Dearborn and at Wayne State University in Detroit.

“That’s almost 600 people we were able to serve outside of overwhelmed and flooded hospital waiting rooms, allowing our doctors and health care professionals to treat more people more effectively, while also allowing more of our community’s health care professionals to get tested and back into their service roles,” ACCESS shared in a Facebook post.

Since beginning the drive-through testing program, ACCESS noted that in total 865 healthcare workers and first responders had been tested in drive-through sites in Dearborn and Detroit.

These tests are vital to "increase access to testing and lessening the overwhelming demands on our regional hospital systems,” Maha Freij, executive director of ACCESS told The Detroit News.

“It is moments like these that we are called on to live out our mission of serving our most vulnerable communities, while ensuring the well-being and safety of our staff and clients,” Hassan Jaber, president and CEO of ACCESS said in a press release.

ACCESS is connected to CMF through its national institution, Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP), a national community foundation and a CMF member.

This latest effort is part of both WKKF’s and CAAP’s larger strategies to support communities during the COVID-19 outbreak. WKKF has spotlighted a number of grantees providing health care, food and other basic needs to communities nationwide.

“As a community foundation, the safety and well-being of the communities we serve is always our top priority, and in the wake of COVID-19, that commitment does not waver,” CAAP wrote in a blog post.

Want more?

View ACCESS’s post on COVID-19 testing.

Read WKKF’s list of grantees supports.







Supporting Mental Health Services for Students

The COVID-19 pandemic and school closures have left some students across the state without access or with limited access to mental health support during this time. We are seeing emerging efforts from foundations and their nonprofit partners to address this critical issue for youth.

With support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund (the Health Fund), the Manistee Areas Public Schools (MAPS) district is offering online and telephone therapy for students coping with trauma as a result of the outbreak as part of their CareConnect services. A school therapist is available to speak to students; teachers and staff are encouraged to reach out to students to help meet their mental health needs.

"Reaching out to them and having a conversation is important as it lets the teachers judge how the students are doing," Ron Stoneman, superintendent, MAPS told The Manistee News Advocate. "[Staff] are also letting the students know how they can get a hold of them if they need to have some support. The first obligation is making sure our kids are OK, and that they are keeping things together and how we might help."

The district therapist is available for students Monday through Friday.

Another initiative supported by Michigan philanthropy is the University of Michigan’s Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students (TRAILS) program, which provides mental health resources to schools across the state. TRAILS has shared a comprehensive list of resources and strategies to support student mental health during the pandemic. It also includes self-care resources for student support professionals and caregivers.

“Today, more students, families and school staff than ever before are experiencing increased levels of stress, anxiety, and isolation and will need mental health support,” TRAILS shared on their website.

TRAILS is supported by several CMF members, including the Health Fund, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Children’s Foundation, the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation and The Jewish Fund.

Want more?

Read about MAPS’s CareConnect resources.

Access TRAILS’s mental health resources.

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