February 11, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

Launch Michigan Seeks Educator Input

Launch Michigan, the statewide coalition of diverse organizations, including CMF, who are working together in support of improving student outcomes has launched a survey to gather insights from Michigan educators.

The survey is aimed at getting feedback and perspectives from educators across the state to inform Launch Michigan’s work in developing policy recommendations that will be shared with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature.

“Michigan can learn from other states that have experienced academic gains as the result of good education policy. But these lessons must be grounded in local context. That means engaging our educators early in shaping solutions at both the local and state levels,” Tonya Allen, co-chair of Launch Michigan and president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation said.

Launch Michigan shared in a press release that feedback from the online survey will help address issues including literacy, educator support, accountability and school funding.

“We owe it to our students and our professional colleagues to take part in a survey like this,” Paula Herbart, co-chair of Launch Michigan and president, Michigan Education Association said. “For years, educators have wished for policymakers to ask them – the experts on the front lines – what’s needed to help students succeed. Launch Michigan is asking those questions, and I’m hoping every Michigan educator shares their views.”

The survey is modeled after a similar one used in Tennessee, a state that is widely regarded as a model for education improvement according to Launch Michigan.

“Listening to our workforce isn’t new for businesses – in fact, it’s an essential part of success,” Doug Rothwell co-chair, Launch Michigan and president and CEO, Business Leaders for Michigan. “If our state’s education workforce has needs, we need to hear about them and address them. It’s critical to the success of Launch Michigan and our goal of helping every student get the education they deserve. And that’s critical to the success of our state.”

The survey is the first of Launch Michigan’s five priorities, which states: “We will listen to and support educators and work together to build a stronger education system for Michigan students. To guide our decisions about how best to assist them, we will leverage existing research and conduct a statewide educator engagement survey.”

Launch Michigan’s other priorities include:

  • Supporting shared, statewide, research-driven strategies for delivering effective education that serve all students and sticking to those strategies beyond election cycles to see what really works.

  • Supporting a fair accountability system that includes everyone who influences education.

  • Elevating public awareness about the current state of education in Michigan and the need to take immediate and collective action to improve it.

  • Working together to ensure resources are available to provide an equitable student-centered education system and funding model.

Launch Michigan anticipates releasing an analysis of the survey responses this spring.

Want more?

Learn more about Launch Michigan.

Connect with CMF’s P-20 Education Affinity Group.







Great Lakes One Water Partnership

Two major projects now in the works are being led by CMF member community foundations as part of the Great Lakes One Water Partnership.

The Great Lakes One Water (GLOW) Partnership is a multi-year, basin-wide initiative focused on engaging shoreline community foundations as a force multiplier to advance a new era of water management to benefit people and businesses in the Great Lakes Basin.

More than a dozen CMF member community foundations are working in regional teams as part of the partnership, supported by CMF and the Great Lakes Protection Fund.

Within the past week two regional teams have announced their action plans.

The Community Foundation for Marquette County (CFMC) announced the launch of the Resilient Future Project in partnership with the Community Foundation for the Upper Peninsula, Community Foundation for Delta County, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, Keweenaw Community Foundation and M&M Area Community Foundation. These community foundations are all working together as part of the Lake Superior/Upper Peninsula Regional Team of the GLOW Partnership.

CFMC shares that the Resilient Future Project seeks to build a community of civic and municipal leaders with the vision and drive to identify and implement strategies to better prepare for severe storm events. 

“The devastating effects of severe weather events have brought the importance of the Great Lakes and their fragility into sharp focus. Few communities, however, are prepared to address the challenge, instead, limited local resources are being drained to manage the problem,” Gail Anthony, CEO of CFMC said. “This is where our technical teams come in; they will meet the communities where they are in their storm readiness efforts.”

The Resilient Future Project will begin with an assessment of communities’ current state of resilience. Then, Anthony said the project will “identify a strategic set of opportunities to actively improve their resilience, all the while, learning and sharing with other communities going through the same process. Working alongside local leaders, the teams will then help them rally the public support and the institutional and financial resources needed to fund the strategic resilience opportunities identified.”

The Upper Lake Michigan Regional Team has also announced its action plan, the Water First Initiative.

The team includes Charlevoix Community Foundation, Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Leelanau Township Community Foundation, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation and the Manistee County Community Foundation.

The Manistee News Advocate reports that the Water First Initiative “will focus on the development of innovative water policies and green infrastructure in the eight counties served by the participating community foundations.”

“This builds on the great work that has already been done,” Laura Heintzelman, president, Manistee County Community Foundation said. “We have a number of watershed management plans that are in place, so we’re really wanting to provide an avenue of support for building on the momentum that has already been gained, and helping to provide additional resources, support and technical support for groups to be able to put those plans into action.”

As these plans emerge, the GLOW Partnership will continue to focus on building the capacity of community foundations to serve as unifying forces in this work. The partnership seeks to generate community support for timely and comprehensive action and deployment of best practices for streamlining and assembling partners, for technology and risk management and public-private partnerships.

“Honestly it wasn’t until the devastation of the Father’s Day storm in Keweenaw that I realized how important this work is,” Anthony said. “Some people said it was a 1,000-year event, others maintained it was due to climate change. Both agree that it is only the beginning of these types of challenges around water. Community foundations are about longevity. We are about opportunities and challenges that are for good for ever. This is long term and it is about our most important resource, water. “

Want more?

Learn more about the Great Lakes One Water Partnership.







Police Academy Engages in Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Cultural Awareness Experience

The Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) Police Academy recently participated in a cultural awareness experience that’s the first of its kind in the state with the support of the Kalamazoo Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) site.

TRHT is a comprehensive, national and community-based process developed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Kalamazoo is one of four TRHT sites in Michigan.

The pilot, Expanding Our Horizons: A Cultural Awareness Experience, was developed by retired police officer Stacey Ledbetter, who now serves as the lead for the TRHT Kalamazoo Law Design Team.

“I created and implemented a unique training engagement for new officers and community members in 2015 - focused primarily on bridging the gap between law enforcement and communities of color, prior to my retirement in 2017 as a public safety captain in Kalamazoo,” Ledbetter said. “I suggested that we try this initiative at our local police academy, for cadets - who upon graduation - will be certified by the state of Michigan to become police officers.”

During the experience, police cadets engaged in CMF-sponsored TRHT racial healing circles with community members. Following the circles, everyone engaged in a facilitated training where they examined historical events, laws and policies from an equity lens.

“I describe myself as ‘Black and Blue.’ I am a Black woman, mother and wife and the Blue represents my 25-plus years in law enforcement,” Ledbetter said. “I richly understand issues on both sides of that equation - the distrust of law enforcement by many in the Black community, based on historical and current incidents of disrespect, racism, discrimination, brutality and murder. On my Blue side I know that there is often a disconnect with community based on the community's lack of knowledge of laws, rights, and policies; that departments are not always representative of their communities nor do enough to build trust or highlight their positive interactions, and that most officers are committed to protecting and serving everyone in their communities and many have made the ultimate sacrifice, with their lives, because they were going to help someone or stop crime.” 

Ledbetter shares that’s why the training was focused on these key areas:

  • Sharing facts and having a discussion on U.S. history related to policing and cases and laws that set the foundation for law enforcement in our country.

  • Facilitating impactful racial healing circles where the cadets and community members engaged in listening, becoming open to others’ perspectives and experiences and allowing oneself to be impacted and/or transformed by the experience.

  • Acknowledging that we all have implicit bias, and to work on removing assumptions and/or
    stereotypes based on visual first impressions and lack of positive interactions with various groups of people.

“It is vital that we continue to lift up how we got to where we are as a community to fully understand the issues we see, instead of making assumptions,” Sholanna Lewis, lead for TRHT Kalamazoo, healing practitioner and program officer, Kalamazoo Community Foundation said. “Given that so many participants from the community had lived experience with the historical events that were highlighted, the opportunity for understanding was so much greater.”

Ledbetter shared that the feedback from participants was powerful with one cadet suggesting the training be offered in police academies across the state and U.S. in addition to ongoing training provided throughout their law enforcement careers. TRHT Kalamazoo envisions expanding this work in the future.

“We do hope to continue to work with various law enforcement agencies in the community, focused on building understanding of lived experience and relationship but also lifting up criminal justice data that tells a story and helps us see potential solutions from a structural level,” Lewis said. “We also hope to do similar convenings for other agencies, sectors and community groups over the next year.”

Want more?

Learn more about TRHT.

Connect with TRHT Kalamazoo.








Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s support aimed at making GR more welcoming for immigrants and refugees

Content excerpted from a City of Grand Rapids press release. Read the full release.

The City of Grand Rapids is one of 13 communities across the U.S. receiving a Gateways for Growth award to increase inclusiveness for immigrants and refugees.

As a result, Grand Rapids is receiving technical assistance and a matching grant of $12,500 from New American Economy and Welcoming America to create a Welcoming Plan Task Force and develop a strategic plan to integrate immigrants, foster economic growth and promote inclusion for all residents.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) has provided $10,000 in matching funds to support this work.

The community foundation shared on social media that this is a continuation of their ongoing efforts in this area.

“Last year we granted funds to Samaritas (Michigan’s largest refugee resettlement agency) to support the engagement of the broader Grand Rapids community on the economic impact of immigrants and refugees as a catalyst to make our community more welcoming and diverse,” GRCF shared.

The community foundation is a member of the city’s new Welcoming Plan Task Force which launched at the end of January.

The city shared that Grand Rapids was awarded this grant “because of the city’s demonstrated commitment to developing and implementing concrete strategies that ensure all residents have access to the tools and support they need to succeed and build healthy, welcoming communities. Plus, the city was highlighted as a place where immigrants are already making local economic and communal contributions.”

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 19,000 immigrants live in Grand Rapids, that’s about 10.5 percent of the total population. In Kent County, 8 percent of the total county population consists of New Americans.

The top five countries of origin for immigrants living in Kent County are Mexico, Guatemala, Vietnam, Bosnia and Canada. 

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