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CMF Members on Capitol Hill

Members of our CMF community engaged with policymakers last week during Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) 2024, presented by United Philanthropy Forum.

Foundations on the Hill 2024.

Members of our CMF community engaged with policymakers last week during Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) 2024, presented by United Philanthropy Forum and in partnership with the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector.

More than 30 CMF members from various foundation types representing diverse communities throughout Michigan and CMF staff engaged in a series of meetings with our federal policymakers and their staff. 

In these meetings, CMF members shared opportunities for philanthropy and government to work in partnership and advocated for issues that support flexible philanthropy and strengthen our communities, including:

  • Making post-graduation scholarships tax-free for recipients.
  • Increasing the transparency of the financial aid process.
  • Supporting more equitable access to federal grant dollars.
  • Using a data-driven approach to preserve the flexibility of donor advised funds as a giving tool available to a wide range of donors.
CMF members engage in a policymaker meeting as part of Foundations on the Hill 2024.

“I would encourage every community foundation to send a representative to FOTH. This is your chance to connect with your region’s legislators in-person, educate them about the impact of philanthropy and other aligned issues on your districts, and learn what issues are of interest to them, leading to future connections,” Elizabeth Schultheiss, vice president of Fund Administration & Development at Battle Creek Community Foundation said.

Several CMF members had the opportunity to meet with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to share how philanthropy is addressing housing needs and advancing cross-sector, innovative and accessible housing projects across the state.

FOTH 2024.

“Our meetings with policymakers and HUD reminded me that the issues we face across Michigan are not that different across communities as some may think. Michigan philanthropy is eager to partner and supplement the efforts of government to create a happy, healthy and thriving Michigan,” Myra Tetteh, senior program officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, said.

In other policymaker meetings, CMF members shared how philanthropy is working to broaden economic success and community development in innovative ways through investments in education, as well as how they are supporting creating a culture of giving and empowering the community to invest in ways that reflect their priorities and values. 

CMF members engage in meetings with policymakers during Foundations on the Hill 2024.

"As a community foundation CEO leaning into the public policy and advocacy space, attending Foundations on the Hill was an exhilarating experience that brings academic policy to life. Being on the Hill and meeting directly with our representatives and senators and their staff shows that the idea of democracy is still alive and real and that showing up and talking about the issues that are important to philanthropy matters,” Monica Moser, president and CEO of Jackson Community Foundation, said.

“CMF also opens the doors for us to meet with key leaders from agencies like HUD or the Treasury Department to have more robust conversations on policies and practices impacting our communities, and how the work of community foundations intersects in areas like housing. This type of access isn’t something one can achieve alone, and the collective voices of our Michigan delegation resonate and reinforce the countless ways that community foundations engage with and support our communities,” Schultheiss said.

Schultheiss shared that the opportunity for CMF members to collectively share their stories of impact and how the diversity of approaches resonated with agency staff was the biggest takeaway from the FOTH experience.

"Meeting with policymakers and their staff helped to share examples of our work, and many asked for additional information. They were interested in the stories shared and the bill numbers that were of interest to our group. The camaraderie amongst the CMF members and the complimentary stories was not a surprise, but rather just reinforced what I had already known about CMF," Randall Ross, vice president, donor services, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan said. 

Several members of the Michigan Community Foundation's Youth Project (MCFYP), the statewide youth philanthropy council for Michigan, attended FOTH meetings with legislators this year. 

"I truly enjoyed the experience, I was concerned that being a youth would make people take me less seriously but it didn't take long for me to realize my worries were unfounded. Everyone was extremely welcoming and receptive; I attribute that to the power of philanthropy. Even in our meetings on the Hill- the policymaker staff and Senators were open to hearing what I had to say," Alex Carlson, MCFYP member said. 

FOTH 2024

Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of CMF, and Kelley Kuhn, president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association attended a special meeting this year with White House officials. They both had the opportunity to attend the White House Democracy and Civic Participation meeting with the White House Policy Council Deputy Director and Special Assistant to the President for Democracy and Civic Participation. 

Want more?

If you’re interested in engaging in policy and advocacy work or strengthening relationships with Michigan’s policymakers, connect with Regina Bell, CMF’s chief policy officer.  

Stay connected with your peers and the latest policy updates via CMF’s Policy Online Community.