January 7, 2019

Monday, January 7, 2019

Philanthropy Perspectives is a new platform to lift up thought leadership from the field. In select editions of the Weekly Download, guest contributors will share their insights on philanthropic issues, innovative ideas and best practices from the sector. Our first guest author of 2019 is Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of CMF.  

We Need to Help New Leaders Fully Understand Our Sector—Our Community

Two high profile examples of intense lawmaker scrutiny and recently proposed legislation demonstrate what could be at stake for our sector and our community of philanthropy at the national level. 

Early in December the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations held hearings looking into the Clinton Foundation and the whistleblower accusations of alleged wrong doing on the part of the foundation and its leaders. Already dealing with allegations of influence pedaling, this newest round of investigations is largely seen as both an ongoing ethics investigation and political game of tit for tat into another high-profile investigation—the Trump Foundation. 

Also in December, the New York Attorney General’s office and the Donald J. Trump Foundation agreed to dissolve the foundation and distribute its remaining assets amid charges that the foundation trustees engaged in unethical and illegal activities of self-inurement and partisan political activities. The lawsuit, which is still winding its way through the courts, may also seek to bar President Donald Trump and some of his children from serving on the boards of New York charities. 

While these are extreme examples and some may argue whether all charges are warranted, these do likely portend the intense scrutiny that the nonprofit sector is likely to endure in the future. 

On the other end of the spectrum, there have been proposed policies that would make it more challenging to hold nonprofits accountable. A recent example was the introduction of a bill in the Michigan Legislature that, had it been enacted into law, would have barred state agencies from requiring nonprofits to disclose information about donors, volunteers or members. While private information is currently barred from disclosure under existing law, SB 1176 would have gone further to encompass all 27 classifications of 501 (c) organizations and made it difficult to investigate fraud as well as illegal political campaign contributions. Many were concerned that the law might have made it difficult for nonprofits to uphold their values of transparency and accountability.

These probes into the work of foundations and nonprofits present several challenges for leaders in our sector. First, as new policy makers come into office, they come to understand the nonprofit sector by their own experiences and those of their stakeholders and advisors, not necessarily by leaders in philanthropy. Second, our community of philanthropy is only credible and strong so long as we adhere to our principles and values of transparency and accountability.

To address these challenges, the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) provides opportunities for our community to engage with their policy makers and educate them on the important role philanthropy plays ensuring the quality of life in Michigan. The upcoming Foundations on the Hill event on March 11-13 is a great opportunity to engage in this work.

These challenges also speak to the importance of our Guiding Principles that CMF members are asked to endorse, to help our community demonstrate adherence to ethical and effective philanthropy standards.

Engagement with policy makers and standards for membership are vital if we are to help new leaders fully understand and appreciate our sector — our community. 

Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO, CMF







What’s Ahead in Lansing?

It’s a new year and Michigan has a new governor. Last Tuesday Governor Gretchen Whitmer was sworn in to office and has announced key appointments to her cabinet.

Whitmer signed her first directive as governor last week, which states that department employees who become aware of an imminent threat to the public health, safety, or welfare must immediately report it to their department director and action must be taken.

As Whitmer begins her tenure, Bridge Magazine asked the new governor and leaders from both parties in the Michigan Legislature to share their priorities for 2019.

Bridge reports that Whitmer and Democratic leaders hope to focus on improving our roads and water quality as well as education outcomes.

Bridge reports that Republican leaders hope to focus on improving our roads and reforming our state’s no-fault auto insurance.

This year we will see a few bills go into effect that were signed by former Governor Rick Snyder during the lame duck session.

In March, both minimum wage and paid sick leave changes will go into effect. As CMF reported, our state’s minimum wage will gradually increase from $9.25 to $12.05 an hour by 2030 instead of the original proposed increase of $12 an hour by 2022. As for paid sick leave, the amount of mandatory annual leave will be limited to 40 hours, instead of 72 hours. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will also now be exempt from having to offer paid sick time.

Michigan also has a new $1.3 billion supplemental budget that was approved for the 2018-2019 fiscal year for various state budget items encompassing infrastructure, natural resources, talent and economic development, education, health and more.

Here are a few highlights of issues of importance to Michigan philanthropy:

  • Census 2020: The budget directs $500,000 for census-related services be allocated on a 4 to 1 private to state match. The budget states that the funding will be used “to prepare for citizen participation in Census 2020 to ensure the most accurate count of citizens.”

  • Homelessness: The budget requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) increase emergency shelter rates by $2 per bed per night to support efforts to move people into permanent housing as quickly as possible.

  • Opioid Epidemic: There’s funding allocated for several departments targeted at addressing the opioid epidemic. This includes a new team to focus on an opioid action strategy, a new pilot program in Livonia and a treatment and community resource locator.

  • Talent and Economic Development: There are several subsections in the budget which outline requirements and funding for the Going Pro program and Going Pro Talent Fund. The budget requires that $1.5 million of the Going Pro funds be used to assist adults over the age of 23 in obtaining high school diplomas and placement in career training.

The Detroit News reported, “The supplemental budget stirred some controversy among legislators and public education groups last week since it diverts new online sales tax revenue for road repairs instead of K-12 schools.”

Snyder also signed bill SB 149, which includes an additional $18 million in funding for school districts to ensure their payments for at-risk students is at least as much as it was last year. It would provide funding for literacy programs, increase funding for FIRST Robotics and allocate $30 million for school mental health support and programs.





Flint’s Fresh Produce RX Program Informs National Model

Work underway in Flint to improve access to healthy food for children will now be replicated on a national scale to improve health outcomes across the country.

Michigan State University (MSU) shared in a press release that Flint’s produce prescription program, supported by CMF members, was the model for a new federal Produce Prescription Program that was included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Flint’s program, managed by MSU and Hurley Children’s Clinic, launched at the Hurley Children’s Clinic which is located inside the Flint Farmers Market.

Prior to the launch, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation provided support to help the Hurley Pediatric Clinic relocate to the farmers market. 

As MSU shares, parents receive a $15 prescription for fresh fruits and vegetables that can be filled at the Flint Farmers Market or through the Flint Fresh Mobile Market.

CMF members the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) and Michigan Health Endowment Fund (MHEF) have both helped to fund the local program.

“Not only are Flint children accessing nutrition education and healthy foods, but now youth across the country will benefit from this program,” Isaiah Oliver, president and CEO of CFGF said. “Access to healthy foods is one of our strategic priorities and it is gratifying to see a homegrown program be elevated nationally.”

"As a funder we want to see successful programs grow, so we're thrilled to see the prescription for nutrition program become part of federal policy," Megan Murphy, program officer, MHEF said. "Access not just to food, but healthy food, is critical for Michigan families’ overall health. As culinary medicine efforts continue expanding, we are working to better understand their effectiveness."

The legislation states that the new federal Produce Prescription Program will award grants to programs and projects that improve dietary health, reduce food insecurity and reduce health care use and costs.

“Good nutrition is important to leading a healthy life,” Senator Debbie Stabenow, a co-author of the Farm Bill said in a release. “Produce prescriptions encourage healthy eating while also fueling our local food economy. Building off the successful work led by MSU and Hurley Children’s Clinic, I was very pleased to include this innovative initiative in the Farm Bill to connect even more families with fresh, healthy food.”

The national program may include health care providers, nongovernmental organizations, regional food centers, institutes of higher education and other appropriate organizations and agencies.

In Flint, the food prescription program continues to gain momentum, expanding to a second pediatric clinic through the support of a $500,000 grant from MHEF.






Hudson-Webber Foundation announces grants focused on community and economic development, built environment and policy and research

Content excerpted from a foundation press release. Read the full release.

Hudson-Webber Foundation recently announced that it has committed more than $3.1 million in grants for research, community development and expansion of the Detroit Riverfront.

“We’re proud to support partners that are deploying innovative approaches to improve neighborhood vitality, whether it be through the development and stewardship of welcoming and transformative public space, planning and coordinating investment in specific geographies, using high-quality research to identify policies and programs that foster neighborhood stabilization, or developing a more coordinated community development system,” Melanca Clark, president and CEO of Hudson-Webber Foundation said.

The foundation’s new grants focus on investments in the areas of community and economic development, built environment and policy and research.

Highlights include:

  • The foundation awarded a two-year $300,000 grant to Building the Engine of Community Development of Detroit to support the implementation of pilot initiatives that will shape the creation of a long-term, effective community development system in Detroit that achieves more equitable development and revitalization in all Detroit neighborhoods.  

  • Midtown Detroit, Inc. has been awarded a three-year, $750,000 grant to support ongoing community and economic development programming that advances small business development, public space maintenance, mixed-income housing and cultural vibrancy in the Midtown and New Center neighborhoods. 

  • The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy was awarded a five-year, $2 million grant to support capital expansion and enhancement of park infrastructure along the Detroit riverfront, as well as annual programming and operations.

  • Global Detroit was awarded a $95,000 grant to conduct a research study that examines the connection between immigration, neighborhood stabilization and revitalization, focusing on Detroit and Hamtramck neighborhoods with significant and recent immigration growth.

The foundation shared, “These grants reflect Hudson-Webber’s focus on the growth of a vibrant city with opportunities for all Detroiters to attain prosperity.”

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