Next for PFAS in MI: Public Hearings Scheduled and Public Comment Open
CMF is continuing to track the latest news on steps being taken to address PFAS contamination in our state.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of human-made chemicals – commonly found in fabric treatments, soaps, firefighting foam and other products – that break down very slowly in the environment, are highly soluble and easily transfer through the soil to groundwater.
In a session at CMF’s annual conference, presenters shared that PFAS exposure is associated with a variety of serious health issues, including some cancers, infertility, thyroid disease, suppressed immunity, high cholesterol, preeclampsia and ulcerative colitis.
There have been several developments on PFAS since that time.
In October, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) announced it was moving forward with formal rule-making on limits for certain PFAS compounds in drinking water. On November 14, the Environmental Rules Review Committee voted to move those regulations forward. As Michigan Radio reported, if approved, the new regulations will be among the strictest in the nation.
Here’s a look at the current draft regulations for PFAS Maximum Contaminant Levels:
"We can no longer wait for the federal government to act, which is why I directed EGLE to establish PFAS drinking water standards to protect Michiganders,” Governor Whitmer said in a press release. “Moving forward with the rulemaking process moves us one step closer toward building public confidence and achieving real solutions that ensure every Michigander can safely bathe their kids and give them a glass of water at the dinner table."
MLive reports that three hearings on the state’s plan to regulate PFAS chemicals in drinking water have been scheduled for January: Grand Rapids on Jan. 8, Ann Arbor on Jan. 14 and Roscommon on Jan. 16.
EGLE is taking public comment on the draft rules until Jan. 31, 2020. Comments can be emailed to: [email protected] or mailed to Suzann Ruch, Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division, Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, P.O. Box 30817, Lansing, MI 48909.
Input from Michiganders will then be relayed back to the Environmental Rules Review Committee for a final vote currently slated for March.
At the federal level, Michigan lawmakers are leading efforts towards PFAS legislation, calling for the EPA to take action, and they are raising public awareness about the issue.
On November 21, Michigan Advance reported that dozens of Michigan lawmakers signed a letter threatening to withhold support for the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual “must pass” bill, if it doesn’t include a provision that would require the EPA to designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Because PFAS are not currently considered hazardous substances at the federal level, the EPA is limited in regulating the chemicals.
“We are only beginning to understand the implications of PFAS on human health, our economy, our water, and our environment,” said John Erb, chair and CEO of the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and co-chair of the Green & Blue Network (GBN).
“PFAS and its family of chemicals may be the DDT of the 21st century, or possibly even worse, due to its pervasiveness, persistence and bioaccumulation in humans and animals. Michigan is the epicenter with 75 known PFAS contaminated sites. Much more testing and research are needed to understand the impacts to health, water and food,” Erb said.
On December 5, CMF’s Public Policy Committee voted in favor of a resolution “supporting the adoption of standards to protect and improve the health of people and their communities against exposure to PFAS contaminants.”
The resolution was put forth by the GBN which provides a space for CMF members and philanthropists to come to together to learn from experts and each other about leading health and environmental issues and how to make more effective and intentional environmental grants, impact environmental policy and leverage grant dollars.
The issue is expected to next go to the CMF Board of Trustees.
Erb invites CMF members to join a funder-only call on Monday, December 9 at 1:30 p.m. to learn more about the PFAS Alliance and other ways foundations can support information sharing and referrals for families whose water has been contaminated by PFAS. Dial in information: 888.557.8511; passcode: 9295525#
Check out Mlive’s Faces of PFAS series sharing the stories of Michiganders affected by PFAS in their drinking water.
Philanthropy’s Cross-Sector Partnerships to Address Michigan’s Opioid Crisis
Despite recent data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) showing a decline in opioid-related overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018, last year there were still nearly 2,599 overall overdose deaths in 2018, 2,036 of which were opioid-related.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced a plan to cut the number of opioid overdose deaths in half within the next five years.
"This is a crisis that's hurting families in every community across Michigan," Whitmer told The Detroit News. "And it's not going away unless we make real, concerted, meaningful steps to protect our families and those struggling with opioid use disorder."
Gov. Whitmer’s plan includes a statewide media campaign to raise awareness of and tackle the stigma surrounding opioid addiction, including increasing access to opioid-treatment medications through Medicaid, increasing the number of syringe exchange programs in the state and expanding support for addiction treatment programs in prisons.
Providing outreach and treatment options for incarcerated individuals and returning citizens living with opioid addiction is a priority for the Michigan Opioid Task Force, which was created by Gov. Whitmer and held its first meeting in October.
Stephen Arellano, coordinator, Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) and Sarah Wedepohl, senior program officer, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) were both invited to participate on the task force, helping to represent philanthropy at the table.
According to the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), over 20% of Michigan’s inmates have an opioid use disorder and returning citizens are up to 120 times more likely to die from opioid overdose within two weeks of their release. The Task Force hopes that early intervention in prisons and access to medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) programs will help decrease these numbers.
“Medication-assisted treatment, along with additional substance abuse treatment services increases the likelihood of long-term recovery, reducing the chance of recidivism,” said Marti Kay Sherry, MDOC acting administrator, Bureau of Health Care Services.
MOUD programs have become more accessible for Michigan residents. Beginning December 3, MDHHS removed its “prior authorization” insurance requirements for medications used in such program, resolving a significant administrative barrier for treatment.
Michigan’s philanthropic sector is at the forefront of the fight against opioid-related deaths. The Michigan Opioid Partnership, a public-private collaboration dedicated to decreasing opioid deaths across the state, launched in 2018. The partnership includes the State of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Superior Health Foundation and several CMF members: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, CFSEM, Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, The Jewish Fund and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. The partnership’s aim is to support addiction prevention, treatment and recovery efforts across the state.
As CMF previously reported, the partnership announced a $5 million commitment earlier this year to support pilot programs in hospitals and jails to expand medication for opioid use disorder treatment options in partnership with outpatient treatment providers. Since then, grants have been made across the state to develop and implement evidence-based treatment programs. The partnership provides support beyond funding to hospitals and jails, including connections to technical assistance providers and groups throughout the state and country.
“The Michigan Opioid Partnership recognized early on that in order to tackle this crisis, we need to be nimble and proactive. We are committed to opening more doors to evidence-based treatment across the state to help save lives,” Wedepohl said.
Learn more about the Michigan Opioid Partnership.
Collaborative Funding Expands Support for Youth in Detroit’s Cody Rouge Neighborhood
The Cody Rouge Initiative (CRI), a public-private collaboration to support a resident-led vision to ensure Detroit’s Cody Rouge neighborhood is a place where children and families thrive, is providing $1.4 million in funding over two years to City Year Detroit. The education-focused nonprofit brings AmeriCorps volunteers into schools to build strong “near-peer” relationships with students.
This latest grant from the CRI will enable City Year Detroit to introduce AmeriCorps members to Cody High School, where they will provide one-on-one and small-group tutoring to students and organize school-wide events and afterschool programs.
CRI was formed in 2015 and is a partnership among organizations and funders including, Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, Trinity Health, DTE Energy, General Motors, Quicken Loans and The Skillman Foundation. Additional community partners include the City of Detroit Planning Department and Detroit Public Schools Community District.
While the partners have long supported the Detroit community, CRI posed an opportunity to combine and coordinate resources within a target area and under a shared, resident-led vision. “We were all intrigued by how much further we could go by working together, leveraging our areas of expertise and investment in a concentrated geography," said Punita Thurman, vice president of program and strategy, The Skillman Foundation. "Though we have differing priorities, we’re united in our collective commitment to Detroit and its children.”
In the nearly five years since CRI formed, the partners have strengthened their alignment and focus. They’ve built a shared understanding of community needs and how each funder can contribute most powerfully. The Initiative has three focus areas: investing in education and career preparation for area youth, and investing in neighborhood infrastructure.
“Collaborative funding initiatives require a good deal of time to be spent on the onset to listen to and understand the needs and desires of those the funding is meant to support as well as the philanthropic strategies of each funder involved,” Thurman said.
“Many of us were in the midst of rethinking our grantmaking strategies to account for new opportunities and priorities as Detroit began changing in monumental ways, from an improved economy and influx of new investment, to strengthened city and school management. This resulted in the Initiative’s early investments being more complementary rather than combined. These investments created important momentum,” Thurman added.
While the Initiative was developing, so was the context in which it works:
The Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance expanded its capacity to coordinate resident action, supported with grant funding from the Cody Rouge Initiative.
Detroit Public Schools Community District advised its community partners on how they can best support the District’s school improvement plans and now has a dedicated staff member that coordinate’s partnerships and program offerings with external organizations at Cody High School, this position being supported by Cody Rouge Initiative.
The City of Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund is in the process of developing a child-centered, youth-informed neighborhood development plan, supported in part by the Cody Rouge Initiative.
CRI partners work collaboratively to set the vision and goals, continually reflect and refine on its strategies and execution of the work, and share accountability for contributing toward the target outcomes. A dedicated project manager was brought on in 2018 to support CRI.
“It wasn’t easy in the beginning. You have to find your way as a collective. We evolved from separate work in one geographic neighborhood to one common set of goals and objectives with specific milestones and metrics for the work. We’ve developed a regular cadence of meetings, and a structure for when and how we meet to tension that work and ensure we are moving the needle,” said Nancy Moody, vice president of public affairs at DTE Energy.
“Collective action is necessary to creating real and lasting change. We have seen the impact of harnessing our collective influence and aligning behind a community’s needs. We look forward to sharing further insights in the years to come,” added Thurman.
Learn more about The Cody Rouge Initiative.
Connect with the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance.
Check out Model D Voices of Cody Rouge.
New Report Offers Insights on Diversity in the Philanthropic Sector
A new report by Change Philanthropy, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) and Funders for LGBTQ Issues highlights the diversity of philanthropic staff and trustees.
The 2018 Diversity Among Philanthropic Professionals Report: A Tale of Two Sectors showcases data from Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ Diversity Among Philanthropic Efforts (DAPP) Survey. Respondents included approximately 947 individuals from 36 foundations, providing data on the diversity of their respective staffs and boards with regard to a number of personal identifiers, including race/ethnicity, gender identity, immigration status, age and more.
People of color make up 37.8% of the philanthropic workforce among the respondent group.
Women account for 69.5% of philanthropy staff, while men make up 28.2% of the respondents and 1.1% of workers identify as non-binary.
16.2% of those surveyed identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Persons with disabilities make up just over 5% of surveyed philanthropic staff.
10% of respondents were born outside of the US.
Perhaps most intriguing in the report findings: The results of the DAPP Survey revealed a clear divide in the sector between foundations with a social justice focus and those with another focus."
As shared in the report, "Foundations with a social justice focus — meaning their mission statement included the key words or phrases 'equity,' 'just society,' 'social change,' or 'social justice' — were far more diverse than foundations with another focus - for example foundations focused on economic opportunity, education, or health and whose mission statements did not include one of the aforementioned key words."
The result was in line with the hypothesis posed by researchers, that foundations with a "social justice mission" had more diverse staffs and boards than other foundations, with a higher percentage of LGBTQ people, people of color and people with disabilities.
Change Philanthropy, EPIP and Funders for LGBTQ Issues include a series of recommendations in the report to increase recruitment, retention and support of diverse populations in the philanthropic workforce.
Adding employment protections based on ability, gender identity, immigration status and other factors to foundations’ nondiscrimination policies.
Conducting targeted recruitment outreach to underrepresented populations.
Ensuring human resources policies support diversity, including extending benefits to same-sex partners and accommodating employees with disabilities.
Providing regular staff trainings on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“A Tale of Two Sectors is non-fiction, and a happy ending is totally within our hands to write,” Pat Eng, president and CEO, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, said. “A diverse cast of characters is a ‘must have’ to make the most compelling ‘true story’ of social justice. For the love of humanity, let’s co-author a new tale of philanthropy together!”
Read A Tale of Two Sectors.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: New Fund to Help Restore Arctic Grayling Created at Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation
This story shared in a Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation press release.
The return of the Arctic Grayling to northern Michigan waters is the aim of a new Arctic Grayling Reintroduction Fund managed by the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, created at the request of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Division. The community foundation will accept charitable donations to the Fund and then grant the funds to the DNR to implement Michigan’s Grayling Reintroduction Initiative, collaboratively developed and supported by over 50 agencies, nonprofits and private businesses.
“We are grateful that the community foundation could create this fund to provide a convenient and time-tested way for people and organizations to charitably donate to support the Initiative,” said Todd Grischke, assistant chief, DNR Fisheries Division. “Over $400,000 in charitable contributions and grants have been received for this historic project in addition to direct contributions from partners like the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. The Community Foundation now provides an efficient link between those wanting to contribute and the costs of the project.”
“We are pleased to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on this historic conservation effort,” said David Jones, executive director of the community foundation and chair of the CMF Board. In Emmet County, the Maple River and Oden State Fish Hatchery have played, and could continue to play, important roles in bringing the Arctic Grayling back to Michigan. Last year we provided grant funding to help install the new water treatment system at the Oden Hatchery using ultra-violet technology that is vital to raising the grayling. We hope this current partnership will foster additional support.”
Grischke says the project is on track following a similar effort in the State of Montana to reintroduce the grayling. Four streams, including the Manistee, Boardman, Jordan and Maple have been selected as potential locations for grayling. Nicole Watson, through the Michigan State University Fisheries and Wildlife Department, is continuing research with encouraging results involving predator-prey and imprinting studies on young Grayling. In addition, Grayling that will reproduce and be used for future reintroduction efforts have been established at the Oden State Fish Hatchery.
Grischke said that funds are needed to continue to assess the selected streams and establish definitive plans for rearing Grayling, for outreach and communication, particularly with communities in proximity to the Grayling planting sites, and for continued work with the State of Alaska to obtain and transport fertilized Grayling eggs and hatch and test Grayling in laboratory settings.
For more information, visit the community foundation website.