The Download: June 29, 2020

Monday, June 29, 2020

Philanthropy’s Actions and Plans to Address Systemic Racism

Organizations across the country and throughout the state are making new financial and leadership commitments to address systemic racism.

The Consumers Energy Foundation recently announced $100,000 in grants to seven organizations across Michigan in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and other efforts that are also focused on social justice and racial equality.

"We at Consumers Energy, value diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the foundation shared in a video posted on social media. “We are passionate about building and nurturing an environment where everyone feels included. We don’t discriminate. We strongly believe Black Lives Matter."

The foundation's grantees include:

  • The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion. This organization serves as a human relations organization whose purpose is to overcome discrimination and racism.

  • The Michigan Diversity Council: The council serves as a resource for diversity best practices and leadership development in Michigan. 

  • The Turning Point of Lansing: The organization shares that it is focused on “transforming boys to men by providing an Afrocentric group mentoring experience.”

  • The Grand Rapids Urban League: The organization is focused on delivering services and creating systemic changes that eliminates racism.

  • The M.A.D.E. (Money, Attitude, Direction, Education) Institute in Flint: The institute provides comprehensive violence prevention, solution-driven research and workforce development for at-risk youth and returning citizens.

  • The Bridge Center in Saginaw: The center is focused on the achievement of tolerance, understanding and acceptance of racial differences in the Great Lakes Bay region.

  • ERACCE (Eliminating Racism & Creating/Celebrating Equality) in Kalamazoo. The organization is focused on eliminating structural racism and creating a network of equitable anti-racist institutions and communities. 

“We hope these grants will have a real impact and continue to advance this critical conversation in the communities we serve and care for deeply,” Rejji Hayes, executive vice president and CFO said in a press release. “We want to do our part as Michiganders work together to confront these difficult questions, examine deeply rooted issues and create solutions that move us toward a brighter future.”

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) has outlined its work moving forward, pledging to continue and enhance their work to address issues of systemic racism, including access to education, health care and more.

“While the community foundation works every day to actively eliminate racial disparities that have been evident for centuries, we own that there is so much more that we need to do,” Diana Sieger, president of GRCF said in an open letter. “We are committed to leveling up our action. We are committed to leveraging our resources, networks and influence at a higher level to stamp out the inequities that have existed for much too long.”

The community foundation has committed to continuing work on its internal culture, strengthening existing relationships with Black nonprofit leaders and building new relationships, funding and advocating for equitable education and addressing issues that disproportionately affect communities of color, such as environmental injustice and housing insecurity.

On Friday, the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) announced grants to local organizations and initiatives that are focused on racial equity, implicit bias and supporting community members of color.

Last week General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra announced the creation of a 12-member board to guide the company’s efforts to improve diversity and inclusion.

"We have a lot of work to do as a board and as a company, but this is an encouraging start,” Barra said.

Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, and GM president Mark Reuss, a trustee of The Skillman Foundation, were both named to the inclusion advisory board.

"The Skillman Foundation’s mission is to expand and improve opportunities for Detroit’s children and youth; and the way we hope to achieve this is to eliminate structural racism and bias, and by advancing inclusion and equity in the systems that serve them," Allen told The Detroit Free Press. "We believe if Detroit can model this it will be an example to the world—how a city can recover and do it equitably so that all citizens, especially children and youth have an opportunity to thrive and lead us to a brighter future.”

While organizations are working through their action plans and approaches, many foundations have affirmed in emails, on social media and in conversations that the issue is one that should be addressed with careful thought, consideration and collaboration.

The McGregor Fund released a statement via email last week sharing how it’s approaching the work moving forward.

“For our part, the McGregor Fund is committed to solutions that encompass the perspectives, racial reality and wisdom of the people we serve,” the statement reads. “We are redoubling our efforts to listen, learn, and invest in the leadership within our community. We will proceed in our work with humility while examining and addressing our own deficiencies. We acknowledge the power and privilege that are conferred upon private foundations such as the McGregor Fund and commit to use them in service of racial justice.”

Want more?

Read the Consumer Energy Foundation’s press release.

Read GRCF president Diana Sieger’s open letter.

Read The Detroit Free Press’s story on GM’s inclusion advisory board.







Kids Count Data Book Provides Pre-COVID Insights on Child Well-Being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2020 Kids Count Data Book, with state and national indicators of child well-being. The new data shows encouraging, improving trends on the national scale.

However, the Casey Foundation notes that data was collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that dramatic shifts in data and rankings will likely be reflected in future research. The foundation is planning to collect data on the impact of COVID-19 on children but shared that it wanted to release this information so it would be available for policymakers, researchers and advocates now.

We're taking a look at how Michigan stacks up in the latest rankings. In the new report, Michigan ranks 32nd overall.

Kids Count collects data in four categories—economic well-being, education, health and family and community. While Michigan’s overall rank stayed the same, the state’s rankings in those key areas slightly worsened for the most part between 2019 and 2020.

Nationally, Michigan ranks:

  • 30th in Economic Well-Being: Michigan held steady compared to the 2019 ranking but the report cited improvements have been made in addressing child poverty, securing employment for parents, housing cost burden and the number of teens who are not in school or working.

  • 40th in Education: Our national ranking dropped from 37th in 2019 and the report showed no change in student proficiency rates from 2019:

    • 68% of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading.

    • 69% of eighth-graders are not proficient in math.

  • 22nd in Health: Michigan fell from 18th in the U.S. in 2019 to 22nd in 2020. While improvements were seen in the number of children with health insurance and childhood and teen obesity rates, babies born with low birthweights and child and teen deaths increased.

  • 30th in Family and Community: We dropped from 29th to 30th in the rankings over the last year, with a significant increase in the number of children living in single-parent households. However, improvements were made in head-of-household education levels, the number of children living in high-poverty areas (14%) and teen birth rates (16 births per 1,000).

CMF reported on the Michigan League for Public Policy’s (MLPP) 2020 Kids Count in Michigan data in May, which breaks down the above categories at a statewide, county and regional level. MLPP’s data is shared with the Casey Foundation to create the national Kids Count data book each year.

MLPP also created a list of recommendations to improve child well-being across the state, including:

  • Make the expungement of juvenile offenses more accessible and affordable.

  • Expand paid parental and sick leave for working parents and guardians.

  • Create a weighted school funding system to better serve students living in poverty, English language learners and students who have special needs.

  • Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit from 6% to 20% to allow families more funds to pay for necessities.

Want more?

Read the 2020 Kids Count Data Book.

See Michigan data for the 2020 Kids Count data book.

See MLPP’s 2020 Kids Count in Michigan data.






New Report Revisits Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap

The Building Movement Project’s (BMP) latest report is providing insights on the persistent challenges and barriers within the sector when it comes to effectively addressing the lack of diversity in nonprofit leadership and the inequities people of color face.  

Race to Lead Revisited: Obstacles and Opportunities in Addressing the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap builds on BMP’s original 2017 report, demonstrating that despite the intentional diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work throughout the sector there’s still much more to do.

Highlights from the report:

  • More people of color (52%) aspire to become nonprofit leaders than their white counterparts (36%).

  • BMP’s report states that there is still white advantage in the nonprofit sector. The report uses the term white advantage to describe “how structure and power operate specifically in the context of nonprofit organizations, steadily reproducing concrete and experiential benefits for white people despite a stated agreement in the sector on the problems of racial inequity and the need to change those conditions.”

  • 90% of people of color agreed with the statement, “People of color must demonstrate they have more skills and training than white peers to be considered for nonprofit executive jobs,” compared to 65% of white people.

  • People of color who work for organizations with white leadership reported the least positive experiences among respondents. For example, they responded that they’re less likely to work at the organization in three years, less likely to be given a voice in their organization and receive fewer fair and equitable opportunities for advancement.

  • Organizations led by white people are more likely to have larger organizational budgets from funders.

  • Three-quarters of respondents in 2019 said their organizations have instituted DEI initiatives. The most common of these DEI initiatives were training—mostly on vocabulary terms like implicit bias and white privilege rather than on recruiting diverse staff or conducting racial trauma/healing courses—and including DEI elements in their mission statement.

  • Increased efforts haven’t translated to changes in the systemic white advantage. For example, 72% of people of color agreed with the statement, “We know how to improve DEI, but decision makers don’t have the will to make changes.”

According to the report, “Hundreds of write-in responses and focus group observations indicate an exhaustion experienced by people of color in the nonprofit sector. People of color shared reflections about the constant demands of both job responsibilities and navigating issues related to race, and particularly the intersection of race and gender.”

The report shared that since 2017 there have been changes that indicate the potential for progress, including the significant national conversation on racial inequities and heightened awareness of racial inequities along with calls for increased and focused action within the nonprofit sector.

Recommendations identified in the report include:

  • Address white advantage in the sector: Significantly increase the number of people of color in board and leadership positions and create organizational changes that make this transition successful. Also, institute new practices, policies and procedures to advance the well-being of people of color.

  • Focus on structures and the experience of race and racism: Strengthen efforts to understand and validate the individual and collective experiences of people of color in nonprofit organizations and institutions.

  • Policies have meaning, but only if enforced: Ensure the realignment of policies and practices related to racial equality are acted on consistently and universally.

  • Provide funding to organizations led by people of color: Interrupt the cycles that are exacerbating the inequities our sector is committed to fight by examining internal practices to understand whether groups led by people of color are equitably provided resources that will help them grow and thrive and make changes to those practices as needed.

  • Reflect the community by putting racial diversity in action: Set a racial equity goal that the organization’s leadership should reflect the racial demographics of the population they serve.

  • Measure results: Establish thoughtful and measurable ways to assess progress based on a widely-shared plan for what should change, who is responsible and how results will be documented.

BMP recommends that nonprofits undertake this work in partnership with like-minded and similar-sized organizations with similar goals, recognizing that a cohort of groups working together on race and race equity can offer each other feedback, collaborate to solve problems and address difficult situations, provide support and accountability for the DEI process and share reflections on challenges and accomplishments.

Want more?

Read the full report.

Has your organization instituted new efforts to advance racial equity? Contact CMF.

News type: