February 13, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Our 2018 State Budget

Michigan’s 2018 state budget is headed to the Legislature, where it will work its way through the House and Senate before a final version is approved by our lawmakers.

Last week Governor Rick Snyder presented his proposed budget, asking lawmakers to sign off on a $56.3 billion state budget, focusing on Michigan’s continued growth, job creation and pathways to fix our aging infrastructure, including Flint.

The proposed budget would dedicate nearly three quarters of spending to health and human services and education.

Education funding:

  • Funding increases to $12.3 billion for K-12 schools
  • An increase in per-pupil spending of $128 million, which would provide an additional $50 to $100 per pupil for schools.
  • An increase of $150 million in funding for at-risk students which includes children on free and reduced lunch programs, children in families who receive food or cash assistance, migrant, homeless and foster care children. All districts and public schools will also be eligible to receive an additional $778 per pupil to assist at-risk students.

Funding for Flint:

  • $25 million for the drinking water declaration of emergency reserve fund
  • $1 million for water filter cartridges and filter replacement
  • $709,000 for lead poisoning prevention programs
  • $11.5 million for nutrition services
  • $375,000 to expand the Children’s Health Access program
  • $8.7 million for early childhood services
  • $1 million for technical assistance for water treatment plant operations

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said she was pleased to see these areas addressed in the governor’s budget, but says more interventions are still needed in Flint’s ongoing recovery.

“Our city still has lead-tainted service lines leading to 20,000 homes that need to be replaced and a water treatment and delivery system that must be completely overhauled, and we need more jobs,” Weaver said. “We hope these important building blocks in Flint's recovery are not forgotten."

Addressing the needs of our aging infrastructure, Snyder is asking for additional funding to try and align with some of the recommendations from the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission’s report.

Infrastructure funding:

  • $20 million deposit into the Michigan Infrastructure Fund, as the start of a down payment on future infrastructure investments.
  • An additional $2 million to implement the commission’s recommended pilot for a statewide integrated asset management database, to ensure future infrastructure improvements are coordinated and we don't see roads dug up for various needs.
  • A $214.3 million increase from our current budget levels for state and local roads
  • $15 million for transit and rail programs.

As CMF reported in December, at the current spending levels Michigan would need an additional $4 billion per year to close the infrastructure investment gap.

The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) shared a statement following the budget announcement, applauding the additional investments in school funding for at-risk youth, Flint and infrastructure, but said there’s a lot of questions moving forward as state lawmakers consider getting rid of the state income tax. 

“All of these encouraging investments could disappear tomorrow if the Legislature goes against the governor’s budget and cuts the state income tax, eroding $250 million to $9 billion from the state’s funds,” Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of MLPP said. “If legislators really want to help the people of Michigan, especially those who are barely getting by, they should pass these positive investments, not something that will undermine them.”

Those in support of getting rid of the state income tax say it will make our state more attractive and entice people to stay in Michigan.

As for the state budget, once a final version is approved by lawmakers, it will go in effect this fall, as the state’s 2018 fiscal year begins October 1.

Want more?

Check out highlights from the 2018 budget proposal.

Read Governor Snyder’s complete 2018 budget proposal.








Storing Solar Energy to Benefit Low-Income Communities

In California, there’s a facility housing large cubes that could power 2,500 homes for a day. The cubes are batteries that take energy from a solar grid, store it, and feed it back into the system when demand is high, for instance after the sun sets. It's one of Tesla, the electric carmaker’s latest projects, as it's rolling out the world’s largest battery storage collection.

This is an emerging practice for companies as they focus on clean energy, by converting solar energy to electricity and housing it in battery storage reduces costs. 

How can foundations support that same concept to address critical issues and needs in our low-income communities?

A new study released earlier this month, A Resilient Power Capital Scan: How Foundations Could Use Grants and Investments to Advance Solar and Storage in Low-Income Communities, commissioned by The Kresge Foundation and Surdna Foundation, examines the clean energy equity issue.

The research shows current barriers at play, benefits for low-income communities and potential strategies from grants to impact investments that would help funders support the technology to power our communities, make them cleaner, healthier and have lower energy bills.

Benefits of solar electricity and battery storage:

  • Reduce reliance on fossil fuels
  • Proper storage can reduce emissions in low-income communities, as they wouldn’t need to rely on power plants that would typically run when demand is high.
  • Communities could use battery power to generate their own renewable power and once the system is paid off they could generate power for free.

There are existing barriers to this approach noted in the report, researchers stress that these projects will require supportive policies and regulations, adequate data collection, education and awareness, along with grants and investments to gain traction in our low-income communities.

Two barriers mentioned in the report include:

  • Insufficient energy data collection, policy research, and economic analysis to understand how to advance technology development in these markets. There’s currently no existing software that can be used to objectively assess whether to install solar and storage systems.
  • Need for additional capacity of technical services providers, project developers, and nonprofits to reach low-income communities. Many property owners, whether they own affordable housing, nonprofit or public buildings admit they lack information about how this technology can reduce utility costs and enhance the economic value.

The research shares 50 different grants and program and mission-related investments that could help implement changes and leverage the technology.

Exampls of grant approachs for funders include:

  • Grant to support environmental, low-income and community advocate groups to push for state and community level policies in support of solar and storage in housing and community facilities.
  • Grant to support public data for storage facilities in operations, with real time information about project costs, benefits and performance.
  • Grant to support development of emergency management plans that incorporate resilient technologies, which would reduce the possibility for a power outage, allowing those who are disabled to shelter in place.

Want more?

Read A Resilient Power Capital Scan: How Foundations Could Use Grants and Investments to Advance Solar and Storage in Low-Income Communities

Read about the Resilient Power Project that works to provide technology solutions for resilient communities.

Want a visual of how solar electricity and battery storage works? Check out this recent story from CBS This Morning.








The Motor City: Where Are We Now?

Detroiters know the Motor City has been on a path of revitalization and transformation. Recently named one of the top global destinations in 2017 by the New York Times, last week it made U.S. News’ List of 100 Best Places to Live in the USA.

A group of Detroiters were in France recently representing Detroit, since the city is the first and only in the U.S. holding the title of a UNESCO City of Design.

We’ve seen philanthropy’s impact in Detroit through entrepreneurship programs, public transportation support, in the arts, culture and placemaking, health initiatives and beyond.

There’s currently 21 Detroit revitalization projects that are among the national finalists for the Knight Cities Challenge, from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, including:

  • Mapping Mobility in Motown by Detroit Experience Factory: Fostering connection and civic involvement in Detroit by creating a map that highlights cultural, educational and mobility resources, such as libraries, health centers, museums, educational spaces, bike infrastructure and parks.
  • Mine Your Own Business by Michigan Women’s Foundation: Offering education, mentorship and capital for aspiring women entrepreneurs through business accelerators at neighborhood churches.

We are seeing engagement throughout the city, as philanthropy works with businesses, government and community members.

In terms of entrepreneurship, The Nonprofit Quarterly recently highlighted the NEI’s program, NEIdeas which is in its third year as a contest offering “rewards to existing businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park with cash and support for their ideas for growth.”

The Detroit Health Department recently received $1 million in grants from The Kresge Foundation, The Skillman Foundation and The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation to support food access, increase neighborhood walkability, improve children’s health, reduce teen pregnancy, offer smart inhalers that can map real-time air quality information and more.

As we grow Detroit and transform neighborhoods, there are concerns that as housing prices rise, long-time residents will be pushed out of their neighborhoods.

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI), which has operated a two-acre farm in Detroit’s North End neighborhood, harvesting 50,000 pounds of food for residents since 2012, acknowledges that building relationships with their neighbors remains a focus for organizations on the ground.

MUFI said in a recent interview they have and will continue supporting “current residents through efforts such as piloting affordable housing initiatives, developing subsidized financing models, and directly assisting in home repair programs.”

Stanford Social Innovation Review’s recent publication Drawing on Detroit, provides a playbook of philanthropy’s work from the Grand Bargain to now, and offers solutions for now and into the future that can be explored and scaled to other communities.

A few takeaways from Drawing on Detroit:

  • Community engagement is a necessity “if philanthropy is going to step into traditionally public roles; in the absence of the transparency and accountability of government.”
  • A focus on increasing resident income levels should continue, to ensure equity for all but also to support the incoming small businesses and entrepreneurs who can’t be sustainable without paying customers.

While Detroit continues to make strides in 2017, collaborative action and community engagement will continue as those on the ground work to strike a healthy balance of revitalization, economic development and linking residents with opportunities.

Want more?

Read Drawing on Detroit.

Save the date! Join us October 25-27 in Detroit for CMF's joint conference with the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and Independent Sector (IS). More details coming soon!







Jackson Community Foundation and Bill and Vi Sigmund Foundation sponsor new donation-based health clinic

Content excerpted and adapted from Mlive. Read the full article.

The Concord School-Linked Health Center, a new clinic that’s open to everyone regardless if they have insurance, opened in Concord, Michigan at the end of January.

Spring Arbor University's (SAU) School of Human Services partnered with Concord Community Schools and area residents to open the clinic and address a medical care shortage facing children in western Jackson County.

SAU and staff at the clinic note two sponsors, the Jackson Community Foundation and the Bill and Vi Sigmund Foundation were crucial to the clinic becoming a reality.

The clinic offers wellness checks, sick visits, physicals and mental health services including sessions on bullying, eating disorders, smoking and healthy lifestyles.

The clinic hopes to address and reduce absenteeism in local schools by providing these important services, ensuring children are well and able to attend school.

“It's a benefit to the community that we have a facility now,” Dan Funston, superintendent of Concord Schools said. “It's somewhere for our parents to take their kids.”


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