August 9, 2021

Monday, August 9, 2021

Navigating Incoming Federal Funding Through Partnerships

There are billions of dollars of emergency funding headed to our state to support communities affected by the pandemic. 

Our state alone will receive close to $11 billion in emergency funding through state and local fiscal recovery funds to support communities and populations hardest hit by COVID-19. 

In order to help navigate the incoming funding, CMF members are forging new partnerships with local units of government.

“The unprecedented influx of resources to Michigan counties also brings challenges. Collaborations and partnerships will be a critical and integral part of leveraging these funds to best serve our county residents,” Zosia Eppensteiner, CEO of the Community Foundation of Marquette County said.

Several CMF members recently engaged in conversation with members of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) during regional summits in Grand Rapids, Escanaba, Frankenmuth and Gaylord.

MAC is the only statewide organization dedicated to the representation of all county commissioners in Michigan. The organization works to advance education, communication and cooperation among county government officials in the state.

Community foundation leaders led conversations during the summits on potential opportunities to work together and shared their experiences navigating the CARES Act and COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) funding.

Eppensteiner shared how community foundations are flexible in their partnerships.

“We serve as a convener; we help identify needs and lift up underrepresented populations voices most impacted by the pandemic. Foundations’ long-term approach to community capital can also provide sustainable support to government initiatives and by serving as a co-investor, foundations can help grow long-term impact,” Eppensteiner said. 

David “DJ” Jones, executive director of PHSACF and CMF Advisory Cabinet Chair, and Chip Hansen, president and CEO of Charlevoix Community Foundation, represented Michigan philanthropy in one of the MAC summits. 

“We’re working every single day to see what we can do to make life better in our counties and for everyone who lives there,” Hansen said in the presentation. “We know that counties are a potential terrific partner for both of our community foundations.”

Hansen shared that community foundations have the potential to be a key support for their counties as they begin to navigate COVID-19 recovery funding. 

“Your community foundation leaders and board members are good assets to you and are willing partners in these discussions,” Hansen said.  

Jones shared several examples of collaboration with local government, including a story on clean energy support in the city of Petoskey.

“Over the last couple of years, we have been partnering with the city of Petoskey to get solar panels on their buildings and to do an energy audit of all their facilities and now they’re exploring adding solar panels to other buildings in Petoskey. We’re partnering with them on some really innovative energy issues,” Jones said. 

Eppensteiner told CMF the summit was an opportunity to begin a dialogue about how foundations and nonprofits are a critical resource to local government in service to their communities.

“I would like to be able to continue the conversation with MAC and Marquette County administrators and commissioners. They are facing an overwhelming task and the impact of their decisions will have long-term effect on our residents,” Eppensteiner said. 

During a summit debrief with CMF, Jones shared how urgent these partnerships are in preparing for federal funding. 

“Don’t delay, get out there and build relationships. For these dollars, we cannot wait,” Jones said. 

Diana Sieger, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and Kyle Caldwell, CMF president and CEO shared more about the role philanthropy can play in partnering at the local level in a recent episode of MAC’s Podcast 83 with Steve Currie, executive director of MAC. 

“Over the course of the last 20 years in Kent country, we have worked to provide prevention funding, to create the Kent Schools Services Network and KConnect,” Sieger shared. “We know that we can’t do what we need to do without strong, trusting relationships and we’ve certainly built that in Kent County.”

Sieger serves as co-chair along with Melanca Clark, president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation and CMF trustee of the Statewide Equity Fund (SEF) Strategic Support Working Group.

Last month Sieger and Clark shared a joint message with our CMF community of philanthropy about the launch of the SEF and how CMF members can engage.

The SEF serves as a collaborative vehicle for Michigan philanthropy to catalyze opportunities that advance impactful strategies to address systemic challenges laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It empowers CMF members to strategically pool resources toward systems change efforts with an equity-centered approach, utilizing a co-investment model focused on the policy domains of public health, education and economic prosperity.

Currently, these efforts are being explored through a Statewide Equity Fund (SEF) Strategic Support Pilot to inform the longer-term strategic efforts the SEF can advance. 

This collaborative effort is bringing together CMF members in up to five regions to develop local approaches to help shape federal funding toward equity-centered approaches within the economic prosperity domain of the policy framework.

We invite you to contact the CMF team to learn how you can engage with your regional peers in this exciting work.

Want more?

Read more about the Statewide Equity Fund Strategic Support Pilot.

Learn more about the Michigan Association of Counties.

Watch David “DJ” Jones and Chip Hansen’s full presentation. 

Watch MAC’s Podcast 83.




Increasing Opportunities for Food Entrepreneurs in St. Clair County

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County is working to support food entrepreneurs and business owners in Port Huron through the purchase of a local restaurant.  

The community foundation is in the process of buying the Atrium Café in downtown Port Huron and launch a network of community kitchens for entrepreneurs. 

According to an article, “the Atrium Café & Ice Cream Parlour will be transformed into Atrium Kitchen as part of the Thumbcoast Kitchens project, which will allow food truck owners, chefs, caterers, bakers and other food entrepreneurs to rent the space and access bigger markets with their business.”

The community foundation is partnering with CMF members the James C. Acheson Foundation and DTE Energy Foundation, and accessing financial support from the Momentum Fund, to help purchase, run and manage Atrium Kitchen and the future network of kitchens.

They are also working to add a local church’s kitchen to the program with hopes of expanding to other kitchens around the county. 

“Think of it as Airbnb for commercial kitchens,” Randa Jundi-Samman, board chair of the community foundation said. “We will use this anchor site, and hopefully the kitchen at Grace Church, to create a new network of commercial, licensed kitchens that can be rented by the hour or day.”

The space at Atrium Kitchen can be used as a pop-up restaurant and entrepreneurs can hold events there tied to their business. The organization is also acquiring Atrium Café's liquor license. 

Jackie Hanton, vice president of the community foundation, shared in the article that rates are still being finalized but there will be a per-hour cost to rent community kitchen space, and different times and spaces will be available. Kitchens in the network will get a percentage of the profits.

“In addition to continuing to invest locally for economic development, this opportunity will also allow us to bring vibrancy and good use back to a closed restaurant and provide local churches an opportunity to put their underutilized licensed commercial kitchens to use for their community,” Hanton told CMF.

Jennifer Oertel, CMF’s impact investing expert in residence, shared that there are many aspects of this project that exemplify how impact investing can address community needs.

“The community foundation listened to its community members about what needs they perceived; they identified a unique solution to meeting some of those needs that goes beyond simple grantmaking by creating a revenue stream to support the good work; and the community foundation collaborated with other stakeholders for financing,” Oertel said.

The Thumbcoast Kitchen Project, which the Atrium Café is a part of, was a result of a listening tour. 

“I look forward to watching the progress of this project and its positive impact on the greater Port Huron community. I hope that other communities are inspired and challenged to explore ways to put their investment resources to work in their own places,” Oertel said.




A Connection to the Community: Donor Advised Funds at Berrien Community Foundation

We’re digging deeper into the roles of DAFs at community foundations, sharing examples of DAFs in action around the state to learn more about their role in communities. 

We recently spoke to Berrien Community Foundation who shared that DAF fund holders are an integral part of the community and are very engaged.

“They’re going out into the community and responding to community needs. There’s constant motion and constant giving through them,” Lisa Cripps-Downey, president of Berrien Community Foundation, said. 

The community foundation has reached out to DAF fundholders for support on a variety of projects.

“We do senior care kits for stay-at-home seniors every year. We’ve called our DAF fundholders and told them we need help to make this happen and our DAF holders do help. They’re looking at grants that the community foundation doesn’t have funds to support and offering their support,” Cripps-Downey said. 

According to Cripps-Downey, DAFs are a way to connect the donor to the community in ways that they might not have been before.

DAF holders also keep the community foundation connected to otherwise unknown needs. 

“Sometimes a DAF holder will connect with us, and they will open our eyes to things that they’ve seen, issues that they feel are important and that we should know about in our community,” Cripps-Downey said. 

Cripps-Downey explained that there is no single profile for DAF contributors within the community. 

“We don’t have an average donor; everyone seems to be so different. Sometimes people think that a DAF donor is someone who is extremely wealthy and looking to park money for a tax advantage but that’s not the case,” Cripps-Downey said. “Our DAF holders are folks who are trying to support their community and support the charities and things that they love.”

One of the most important parts of DAFs at the community foundation, Cripps-Downey shared, is their two-way partnership. 

“I can call one of my DAF fund holders and say I know you have interest in, for example, the needs of children and I wanted you to know that this need is out there, and quite often they respond to those needs,” Cripps-Downey said. 

The community foundation has seen DAFs as not only an effective entry point into philanthropy, but also serve as an avenue to other forms of giving. 

“They might see that we’re doing a scholarship program and through that knowledge they will endow a scholarship that is forever going to help students attain their educational goals and from there they can look at life end giving. They work their way through creating that relationship, learning more about philanthropy and learning what they can do within the community to continue their giving,” Cripps-Downey shared. 

Much of the community foundation’s legacy giving comes from a donor who started with a DAF.

“The amount of work that we do, the impact that we’re able to make is so influenced by and supported by DAFs that I really think that without them and without their support we would curtail the amount of impact that we’re able to have on our community,” Cripps-Downey said.  

Want more?

CMF released phase 3 of our payout rate research series, Analysis of Donor Advised Funds from a Community Foundation Perspective, focusing on the payout rates of donor advised funds (DAFs) within the context of the philanthropic sector, specifically the payout rates of DAFs administered by Michigan community foundations. We invite you to read the full payout rate research series. 




Member Spotlights

CMF Members Efforts to Increase Vaccination Rates 

Content excerpted and adapted from an article. 

Several CMF members are supporting a program aimed at increasing the COVID-19 vaccination rates and addressing misinformation in Southwest Michigan. 

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund, The Kresge Foundation and the Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) are supporting the Vaccination Champion program. 

The Berrien County Health Department (BCHD), United Way of Southwest Michigan and Van Buren/Cass District Health Department are currently recruiting “vaccine champions” to educate communities on the importance of the vaccine.

According to an article, “the champions, individuals and nonprofits will get training and tools on effective outreach tactics, assistance in identifying areas with lower vaccine confidence, and monthly stipends or mini-grant awards to increase their capacity.”

The champions will also work to open conversations about the vaccines through door-to-door outreach, sharing vaccine information in-person and on social media, provide transportation to vaccine appointments and help coordinate or host a vaccine clinic. 

“This initiative will help us increase vaccination rates as well as slow the spread of health misinformation that causes confusion, harms people’s health, and undermines public health efforts,” Courtney Davis, acting health officer for the BCHD said in the article.

In Washtenaw County, the Vaccinate the Great Lakes State campaign is aimed at meeting the statewide goal of getting 70 percent of Michiganders vaccinated.

The United Way of Washetaw County recently joined the campaign, launched by MAUW and the Michigan Nonprofit Association to encourage vaccine uptake. 

According to an article, MAUW will advance the vaccination campaign by:

•    Forming a state-level steering committee composed of statewide organizations that represent the groups serving hard-to-reach communities.

•    Initiating statewide communications with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and making those resources widely available to local nonprofits.

•    Assisting nonprofits in identifying and reaching vulnerable populations.

•    Awarding mini-grants to local nonprofits to target fieldwork and engagement.

•    Collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data to assist local efforts.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, as of August 6, 54% of Michigan residents are fully vaccinated. 





Dual Projects Support Housing Development and Talent Attraction

Content excerpted and adapted from a Whirpool Corporation press release. 

Whirlpool Corporation, a CMF corporate foundation member, celebrated the groundbreaking of a new multi-family housing development in downtown Benton Harbor last week with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and several federal, state and local officials. 

Through a partnership with Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment LLC, Whirlpool Corporation plans to invest more than $20 million to construct the multi-family development in the city of Benton Harbor with the support of the Michigan Strategic Fund.

“We applaud Whirlpool Corporation’s continued investment in Southwest Michigan as we work to jumpstart our economy,” Whitmer said in the press release. “This innovative approach to solving a critical workforce housing gap is a win for Whirlpool in attracting top talent, a win for the community, bringing increased density and revenue to small businesses in downtown Benton Harbor and a win for people who need and deserve quality, attainable housing in the place they live, work and play.”

Whirlpool Corporation announced plans for the multi-family housing development in June following Michigan Strategic Fund approval of a Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant in the amount of $750,000 for the project and relevant road improvements.

The multi-family development will have 80 apartments and 120 parking spaces, which is anticipated to result in $22 million in total capital investment in the city of Benton Harbor. 

By coupling the investment in new housing units with the redevelopment and additional investment of $60 million in the company’s Global Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center, Whirlpool Corporation will be able to generate positive business impacts, including the ability to attract and retain needed talent while offering housing options. 

Through the combined projects, Whirlpool Corporation will also retain 400 full-time engineering, research and development, and administrative support positions.

Want more?

Read the full press release. 

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