Tribute to the Life of President George H.W. Bush: America’s Volunteer in Chief
Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO, Council of Michigan Foundations
On behalf of the Council of Michigan Foundations and as a former trustee of the Points of Light, I was honored to be invited to the state funeral celebrating the life of our 41st President, George H.W. Bush. I joined more than 3,500 friends, family, dignitaries and fans to express condolences to the family of a kind, principled and prominent world leader. His funeral brought together a wide and diverse community, from the current and three former U.S. presidents to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly, to football legend Peyton Manning, to local volunteers recognized for their efforts. It was a fitting tribute for the former president who gathered an unlikely coalition wherever he went. His many decades of devoted service to our country spanned the military, government and volunteerism. Communities here and across the globe have been impacted by his legacy of engagement and service to others.
President Bush had a vision for a caring nation, filled with a constellation of individuals doing good and working together to build stronger communities. This dream for America was reflected in his now-famous speech accepting the presidential nomination at the 1988 Republic National Convention, where he described our country’s clubs and volunteer organizations as “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” This vision of citizens creating positive change continues in the international nonprofit that bears the name of his call, Points of Light.
In 1991, George Bush, Sr. bestowed the inaugural Points of Light Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award on George Romney, Michigan’s 43rd governor, a man who championed the creation of volunteer centers and the capacity of service to address our communities’ most vexing challenges. Former Governor Romney was head of the National Center for Voluntary Action when it merged with Points of Light, and together with President Bush, helped to launch decades of growth in the volunteer sector.
Today, more than $1 billion in federal support is annually given to communities across the country because of the early work of President Bush’s Commission for National and Community Service (CNCS). Dottie Johnson, president emeritus of CMF, is a former member of the CNCS board, and I am a past board member for Points of Light, which currently has a network of 200 affiliates in 35 countries.
The people of Michigan, our nation and the world are better today not only because of George H.W. Bush’s service as the 41st president of our nation, but also because of his enduring commitment to serving others and encouraging all of us to do the same. Thank you, Mr. President.
Legislation We’re Watching in Lansing
As the lame duck legislative session is winding down, we’re taking a look at some key pieces of legislation in Lansing.
Restoring charitable tax credits
First, bills which would restore two charitable tax credits in Michigan could go for a vote on the House floor in Lansing this week.
If passed, the bills would provide charitable tax credits for contributions to homeless shelters, food kitchens and food banks, as well as gifts to endowment funds held by community foundations in Michigan.
The bills cover two of the three charitable tax credits that were in place in Michigan prior to 2011.
"Restoration of these important tools for Michigan philanthropy will have a profound effect on giving," Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO, CMF said.
Leaders from the Capital Region Community Foundation and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, both CMF members, joined CMF and the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) in attending last week’s committee hearing for the bills.
Carrie Pickett-Erway, president and CEO, Kalamazoo Community Foundation who was at the hearing, told CMF about the impact the community foundation felt following the elimination of the charitable tax credit for gifts to endowment funds.
“In the two years following the elimination of the tax credit, we saw an 89 percent decline in the number of $200 and $400 gifts,” Pickett-Erway said. “This is a significant drop, independent of other issues. However, it’s the loss of the relationship building opportunities that is truly concerning. We may never fully know the negative impact for our community when this valuable tool was not available to introduce new donors to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.”
CMF has been advocating for the restoration of the charitable tax credits for several years. This is the fourth consecutive year the legislation has been introduced.
While we wait to see if these two bills pass this session, here’s a quick roundup of other key pieces of legislation in Lansing.
Paid sick leave and minimum wage
The Legislature passed two bills which amend the legislation lawmakers approved earlier this fall around paid sick leave and increasing our minimum wage.
One bill will gradually increase our state’s minimum wage from $9.25 to $12.05 an hour by 2030, instead of $12 an hour by 2022, which was the original proposed increase.
The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) released a statement saying in part that this legislation, “maintains an inequitable tipped wage, increases the minimum wage at a slower rate and does not tie it to inflation, meaning it will stagnate and fail to serve its literal, intended purpose almost immediately.”
The other bill will limit the amount of mandatory annual leave to 40 hours, instead of 72 hours. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will also now be exempt from having to offer paid sick time.
Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
As CMF reported, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, approved by voters, transfers the authority of drawing our political maps from elected officials (the Michigan Legislature) to an independent, nonpartisan committee of registered voters. The committee will be comprised of 13 commissioners who are randomly selected from a pool of registered voters, consisting of four members who self-identify as Republican, four members who self-identify as Democrat as well as five non-affiliated members. Currently under consideration in Lansing is SB 1254, which would set certain rules and procedures for how the commission would be governed and selected. Specifically, the legislation provides a set of standards for how the state will affirm the political party of commission members. The legislation states that an individual is “conclusively presumed to be affiliated with a political party” if they have contributed to a political party within the last six years.
The Personal Privacy Protection Act or SB 1176, if passed, would prohibit public agencies from requiring certain nonprofits to disclose certain donor information. This bill has passed the Senate and is going to the House for consideration.
The Legislature’s session is expected to wrap up next week. Any legislation that isn’t passed will be considered “dead” and would need to be reintroduced in 2019 for consideration.
CMF will keep you updated on any major developments on these pieces of legislation via our social media channels.
Project Play: Southeast Michigan
We’re getting an update on work underway by Project Play: Southeast Michigan, an initiative that launched about a year ago as a three-year effort to build upon recommendations from the State of Play Report, which focused on youth sports participation, access and barriers in the region.
The initiative is a partnership of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJF) and The Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program.
Katie Brisson, vice president, program at CFSEM told CMF that the initiative’s Youth Sports Task Force is currently building plans to address the issues and recommendations that came from the State of Play report.
Snapshot of data from State of Play:
On average, only 13 percent of kids from Southeast Michigan get in at least 1 hour of physical activity a day, the amount recommended by the CDC.
Youth sports providers and stakeholders gave Southeast Michigan a “C+” grade in terms of stakeholders getting kids active through sports.
In the region, youth coaches in urban areas receive far less training than coaches in suburban areas.
As CMF has reported, while sports and active play can build confidence, the national State of Play report shows that they can also save medical costs. If 50 percent of youth met the active and healthy levels of activity, it’s estimated $20 billion would be saved in direct medical costs.
The task force has held convenings across the region to get input from community members to help inform its work.
Now the initiative has formed diverse workgroups to develop projects to address the three key areas that surfaced from the scan and community feedback:
Creating a model for sports equipment sharing within communities, as access to equipment is a significant barrier for youth.
Building quality training for parent/volunteer coaches that is accessible, relevant and focuses on social-emotional needs of youth.
Identifying opportunities for pro teams to collaborate around all the recommendations made in the scan.
“We decided to start with issues for which we thought we could make an impact in the short-term, with an eye toward the long-term,” Brisson said.
Project Play: Southeast Michigan recently launched its own website, providing a collection of research, resources, recommendations and best practices around engaging children in healthy and active play.
The website also provides resources for parents, including a checklist for youth sports engagement, a tool to assess health benefits of high school sports and more.
Right now CFSEM is accepting grant applications for youth sports projects in the seven counties in the region through RCWJF’s permanently endowed legacy fund held at CFSEM. In the last three years the fund has awarded 40 grants to 29 different organizations.
Brisson said the work of Project Play: Southeast Michigan is just beginning with much more to come.
As CMF has reported, the State of Play research and work led RCWJF and The Aspen Institute to also launch a national initiative, Project Play 2020, to leverage strategies nationwide to increase accessibility to youth sports.
Frey Foundation announces Housing Innovation Award winner
Content excerpted and adapted from a Frey Foundation press release. Read the full release.
The Frey Foundation has announced the recipient of its first-ever Housing Innovation Award.
As CMF reported in October, Frey Foundation was seeking innovative ideas to relieve the cost burden of housing for ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) families in Kent County. Individuals are considered ALICE when they live above the federal poverty line, therefore often aren’t eligible for aid, yet still can’t afford the basics such as housing.
The foundation’s open call for ideas asked for an innovative, actionable plan, concept or collaboration that can reduce the number of ALICE families spending more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing.
The winning proposal was submitted by Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF).
ICCF will use the $150,000 award to create a Community Homes Land Trust and support structures designed to create and preserve affordable homeownership and rental opportunities specifically for families who are considered ALICE in Kent County.
In the planned Community Homes Land Trust model, homes are sold at below-market prices to income-qualified households who cannot afford to buy on the open market. Upon resale, any home in the Land Trust remains affordable by utilizing a portion of the appreciation to reduce the purchase price for the next owner, preserving affordability from generation to generation.
“A diverse, cross-sector selection committee unanimously recommended ICCF’s Housing Innovation proposal for its potential for impact, scale, and ICCF’s intent to share the Community Homes Land Trust framework with other housing organizations whose beneficiaries could be served by this tool. Their proposal included well-vetted ideas designed to preserve affordability and access over the long-term,” Lynne Ferrell, program director at the Frey Foundation and CMF trustee said.
“Our trustees are committed to being at the table and playing a meaningful role in moving the needle on housing insecurity on behalf of ALICE families in West and Northern Michigan,” Ellie Frey Zagel, Frey Foundation trustee and chair of the initiative said. “This work can’t be done by one funder or in silos. We are committed to learning and listening for emerging opportunities and are willing to try new approaches to make an impact on those we seek to serve.”
This is the foundation’s first venture into “prize philanthropy,” a grantmaking tool designed to spark innovation and engagement for community impact.