February 25, 2019

Monday, February 25, 2019

Growing Detroit’s African-American Middle Class

A new report by Detroit Future City (DFC), supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, examines the data and challenges facing Detroit’s African-American middle class.

Anika Goss, executive director of DFC writes that this report, Growing Detroit’s African-American Middle Class, emerged from their work with the 139 Square Miles report in 2017 which showed that nearly 75 percent of Detroit households had an income of less than $50,000, whereas nationally only 30 percent of U.S. households earn less than $50,000.

The report defines middle class as households earning between $46,100 and $115,300 per year. DFC said this highlights the need to grow and support Detroit’s middle class as it is central to the city’s success.

DFC’s data shows that nearly 80 percent of middle-class households in Detroit are African-American individuals or families.

“Understanding and defining Detroit’s African-American middle-class population was a heavy but important lift. It is a personal narrative about families, choices, opportunity and decisions,” Goss writes.

Data highlights:

  • Currently Detroit has a small share of middle-class households, 25 percent, as many have moved to the suburbs.

  • Among the 50 largest U.S. cities Detroit has the lowest share of total middle-class neighborhoods but the sixth highest share of middle-class African-American neighborhoods.

  • The report shares that white middle-class households are more likely to live in a middle-class neighborhood than African American middle-class household. For instance, 75 percent of white middle-class households live in a middle-class neighborhood while 33 percent of African-American middle-class households live in a middle-class neighborhood.

The report provides recommendations aimed at increasing the number of middle-class households in the city by 33,800, which would align with the share of the region’s middle-class households and be transformative for the city.

DFC engaged with focus groups to learn what would make middle-class neighborhoods attractive and some of the perceived challenges.

Challenges at play:

  • Detroit’s cost of living is considered high due to higher property taxes and high car insurance rates. DFC shares that Detroit has the highest car insurance rates in the state.

  • The quality of Detroit’s schools was cited as a concern by focus group participants.

  • Blight and vacant buildings in neighborhoods are an issue. DFC shares that Detroit’s middle-class neighborhoods have a vacancy rate of 15 percent.

  • Detroit has experienced a decline in home ownership which has disproportionately affected African-Americans, dropping from 52 to 43 percent between 2000 and 2017.

DFC’s recommendations include:

  • Improving educational attainment and workforce outcomes to provide equitable opportunities.

  • Developing strategy around recruiting African-American middle-class professionals to specific Detroit-based professions to help close the economic gap.

  • Creating desirable middle-class neighborhoods while also keeping tabs on near-middle-class neighborhoods in the coming years.

As the report states, “Detroit has a rare but important opportunity to intentionally plan for inclusive growth. However, as illustrated in this report, growth is not only based on attracting people to Detroit or creating jobs. Growing Detroit must be based on an aspirational view of a city that offers economic opportunity for everyone.”

Want more?

Read the full report.







MLPP’s Policy Recommendations for MI             

The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), a nonpartisan policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all, recently released The Owner’s Manual for Michigan, a comprehensive guide that provides 16 policy recommendations for our lawmakers to consider.

MLPP shared that the manual was informed through their meetings with residents in six cities around the state and developed by their team of policy analysts.

“As we drove around the state, the residents we met were very different, but the problems they were facing were universal,” Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO for MLPP said. “We may have organized the information, but this plan really belongs to the 10 million people who call Michigan home—they’re the real owners of this great state and the real stakeholders in our policy decisions.”

The manual focuses on four key areas: thriving families, healthy communities, strong workers and top-notch education. Within each area there are multiple policy recommendations. We’re highlighting a few key takeaways.

Healthy Communities

  • Protect Medicaid for children and families, including the Healthy Michigan Plan. MLPP shares that 2.5 million Michiganders are covered by Medicaid programs but initiatives such as work requirements for the Healthy Michigan Plan limit coverage. The manual recommends policymakers “promote innovative policies and provide financial support for Medicaid.”

  • Expand access to affordable, accessible healthcare coverage for all. MLPP shares that Michigan needs to offer options to improve the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) cost and accessibility through “increased subsidies, prescription drug pricing reform and protecting some of the most popular reforms in the ACA.”

Thriving Families

  • Increase child care subsidies. The manual states, “The child care business is so underfunded and undervalued that providers cannot charge what it really costs to provide high-quality care, and parents with low or moderate incomes cannot afford better quality care. Federal law recommends that states set subsidy rates at levels that allow families to purchase 75 percent of the licensed care in their communities, and Michigan falls short of that goal.” In 2017, CMF's Public Policy Committee and the Board of Trustees advocated for the Michigan Legislature to support then-Governor Rick Snyder's request to increase child care subsidies and expand eligibility for Michigan families. As a result, there was an increase bringing us closer to the federally recommended 75 percent of the market rate.

  • Develop a statewide housing plan. Creating a comprehensive plan would help to increase coordination among multiple state agencies working to address the housing challenges facing Michiganders. In developing the plan, the state should identify more effective pathways to funnel resources to communities that would benefit most.

Strong Workers

  • Enact a paid sick leave law that covers all workers. According to MLPP, the measure passed by the Legislature last year excludes 62 percent of Michigan workers from mandated eligibility.

  • Reinstate the part-time independent student grant. This state financial aid provided support for students over the age of 30 to attend a public university or community college but it was eliminated in 2010. MLPP shares that it assisted 6,000 Michigan students and could help older students gain necessary skills.

Top-Notch Education

  • Access to preschool education for all. MLPP shares that the state-funded preschool program, the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) shows children who participate score higher on early literacy and math assessments. Unfortunately, 3-year-olds are not eligible for GSRP. The manual recommends ensuring all children have access to high-quality preschool programs, beginning with children from low to moderate income households. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has identified universal preschool as a priority.

  • Create a prenatal to third grade reading initiative. The manual says this framework would draw on resources from multiple state departments and engage both children and their parents.  

Cynthia Rowell, a board member of MLPP, CMF member and director of learning and impact for The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, shared that MLPP also developed one-page summaries around specific topics providing readers with a snapshot of the issue, the current data related to the topic and recommendations for the role policy change could play in advancing outcomes.

“I am hopeful The Owner’s Manual for Michigan will serve as a compass for directing legislators to the needs of the people they are elected to represent,” Rowell said. “More than one in five children in Michigan live in poverty which we know is a primary indicator of poor child outcomes; as a state, we can do better by listening to those inside the issues and responding to their recommendations for change. The Owner’s Manual for Michigan is the tool for the funding community as well; knowing our funding objectives align with community voice helps to ensure we are headed in the right direction!”

Want more?

Check out The Owner’s Manual for Michigan.







Clean Energy Work Underway in MI

We’re getting a look at how clean energy is growing in Michigan, the primary sources for that growth and how funders are helping to catalyze the work in their communities.

A new report by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) shows that wind generation remains the top source of renewable energy in Michigan but solar energy is growing.

Data at a glance:

  • Wind turbine projects generated 69 percent of renewable power in 2018.

  • The state shares that there are 25 utility-scale wind projects in Michigan with four more in the works in Gratiot, Isabella and Tuscola counties.

  • Solar installations generated 4 percent of renewable power, up from 3 percent in the previous year.

  • Other sources of renewable energy in Michigan include: hydroelectric facilities, biomass, landfill gas and municipal solid waste.

Renewable energy plans and projects have been on the rise in recent years as Michigan is experiencing a major energy transition. Legislation in 2016 mandated that electric providers meet a 12.5 percent renewable energy standard based on retail sales for 2019 and 2020 and reach 15 percent by the end of 2021. The state says all providers have met the energy standard goals to-date.

Through clean energy grants by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, CMF has been working with community foundations interested in engaging their communities in Michigan’s energy transition and optimization.

With the support of the Mott Foundation in the CMF Community Foundations for Clean Energy initiative, the Community Foundation of Marquette County (CFMC) shares that it has “created energy information materials, developed three demonstration sites that illustrate energy efficiency and renewable energy practices, and convened an energy awareness community event.”

CFMC’s work is highlighted in a video that shows this work in action and how they added a demonstration site for solar panels to Range Bank for others in the community to see the usage of solar energy.

As shown in the video, this work has also led to a residential solar installation on a home built in the late 1800s and helped a local resident subscribe to a solar garden.

“It’s been a lot of work but we’re able to use the Mott Foundation grant as a catalyst to initiate clean energy projects and promote these concepts in the community, hoping to be an example,” Maura Davenport, former board chair of CFMC said.

Solar panels are expected to be installed at the community foundation next month.

Michigan Energy Options, which worked in partnership with CFMC on this initiative said in the video it’s just the beginning.

“I would expect to see more renewable energy moving forward in the UP in the Marquette area and then wider throughout the state of Michigan in the coming years, given those declining costs and the greater efficiencies that solar is offering,” Michael Larson, UP operations manager, Michigan Energy Options said.

The M&M Area Community Foundation recently shared its work in the Mott Foundation funded CMF Community Foundations for Clean Energy initiative, showcasing the work of teachers and staff in the K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) who attended the foundation’s clean energy curriculum training.

This work led to 12 schools being engaged, resulting in saving nearly 64,000 gallons of water, reducing CO2 by the equivalent of 15 car trips from New York to Los Angeles, and much more.

Another member of the initiative, Keweenaw Community Foundation is now partnering with Michigan Technological University to train students to assist in energy audits of local buildings. They will summarize results and help track the impact of the improvements made after the audits.

Want more?

Learn more about Clean Energy Grants.

Watch CFMC’s video about their clean energy work.








Five CMF Members Support New Recovery and Wellness Center

Content excerpted from a Midland Daily News article. Read the full article.

Ten16 Recovery Network’s new Center for Recovery and Wellness facility is in the works in Midland.

Dow Chemical Company Foundation, Midland Area Community Foundation, The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation and The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, all CMF members, are helping to fund the new facility.

"We are so grateful for the support of the foundations, and excited to be offering this new facility soon," Sam Price, president and CEO of Ten16 said. "Their collective support says so much about our community's commitment to a strong quality of life for all. There are a lot of people in Midland who are struggling. Being able to give folks a welcoming, safe, sober place to gather as they are rebuilding their lives is a tremendous gift."

Ten16's Recovery Center model emphasizes both outpatient counseling and peer support as a part of the recovery process. People work with a team of counselors and recovery coaches -- a person in long-term recovery themselves who can offer guidance and support based on their own experience. The center offers drop-in services and scheduled programs in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere.

"Dow and their employee volunteers have been a long-time supporter of the Ten16 organization. The work they do on a daily basis is critical to addressing the addiction and mental health crisis in our region," Rob Vallentine, president, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation said.

"The Midland Area Community Foundation was pleased to support Ten16's Center for Recovery and Wellness when it was first established,” Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation said. “We are excited to see that work continuing as they move to their new home in our neighborhood.”

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