July 13, 2020

Monday, July 13, 2020

Lawmakers to Consider Next Round of COVID-19 Relief Legislation

Lawmakers will head back to Capitol Hill on July 20 to focus on the next installment of COVID-19 legislation. There may be swift action with the Senate expected to depart for a recess on August 10.

Four COVID-19 relief bills have passed since March, injecting nearly $3 trillion in aid into the economy. That number includes approximately $600 billion that went to small businesses and organizations through the Paycheck Protection Program. The House passed the HEROES Act in May but that legislation has not seen any movement in the Senate.

For the next relief package lawmakers are reportedly considering:

  • Liability protections for businesses.

  • Unemployment benefits.

  • Another round of direct payments to individuals.

  • State and local aid funding for health care systems.

With such a brief timeline for lawmakers to consider the next round of legislation around COVID-19 needs, the CMF policy team is encouraging members to reach out to their representatives now to discuss needs within their districts and how philanthropy is responding, and to explore solutions together.

Chip Hansen, president of Charlevoix County Community Foundation, recently used a template message provided by CMF to reach out to Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and Rep. Jack Bergman to share examples of investments the community foundation is making.

Hansen highlighted the foundation’s Urgent Needs Fund which has already provided more than $135,000 in grant support to qualifying nonprofit organizations operating on the front lines of the pandemic, as well as the Charlevoix County Community Foundation’s collaboration with several family foundations to provide over S150,000 in general operations support for nonprofits, the top need identified in a survey of nonprofits that the foundation conducted.

“We remind ourselves often about the importance of being a good listener in our community because we know that listening to our community often leads us to the intersection of resources and opportunity,” Hansen told CMF. “The same thought applies to advocacy; lawmakers are hearing a lot of voices but few can be as objective and insightful as the voices of our community foundations.”

In his letter to lawmakers, Hansen lifted up several areas where unmet needs have surfaced including access to and affordability of healthcare and child care services, unrestricted aid for K-12 school districts to plug gaps created by insufficient state revenues and social safety net program protections and investments.

Hansen shared that while communicating with lawmakers is vital now, “It’s important to be regular communicators, too, as this won’t be our last crisis.”

Fremont Area Community Foundation recently reached out to policymakers as well, highlighting community concerns.

"Recently, two of the trustees involved with our educational grantmaking became concerned with the potentially devastating budget cuts for our nation's education system,” Carla Roberts, president and CEO of Fremont Area Community Foundation said. “We worked with these trustees, Lola Harmon-Ramsey and Carolyn Hummel, to craft a letter to send to lawmakers explaining how these cuts would negatively impact the students and schools in our area. We believe our community foundation is uniquely positioned to advocate for matters of public interest. The health and well-being of our schools ─ particularly in the midst of a worldwide pandemic ─ affects us all." 

Roberts shared how the community foundation keeps policymakers informed about community needs and important response efforts that are underway.

"Fremont Area Community Foundation has worked hard to cultivate rich and rewarding relationships with our state and federal legislators,” Roberts said. “We routinely provide information about our activities and share reports that can inform public policy. Additionally, we have invited legislators to attend and speak at public forums of our local chapter of Circles USA, a national anti-poverty program."

CMF’s policy team has provided sample language you can use to tell lawmakers about the work you are leading in response to COVID-19 as they consider future relief packages:

Our policy team is eager to support your engagement with lawmakers as we amplify our community’s collective voice at the state and federal levels. We encourage you to include Regina Bell, director of government relations and public policy and Kyra Hudson, CMF public policy fellow on email communications to policymakers.

CMF’s policy team is continuing to work with state and national partners to lift up the work of the charitable sector and ongoing needs in Michigan communities. CMF in partnership with the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Michigan Association of United Ways is drafting a letter to Michigan’s House and Senate delegation requesting an expansion of the universal charitable deduction, direct funding for nonprofits and access to credit, with an emphasis on small nonprofits that are led by and serving communities of color.





Addressing Inequities for Seniors During COVID-19

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Michigan has released a report that outlines key disparities in COVID-19 care and prevention for Michigan seniors based on their age, race, ethnicity, geographic location and income.

Disrupt Disparities 2.0: During and After COVID-19 provides information and recommendations to address solutions in four policy areas: access to home- and community-based services (HCBS), social determinants of health and chronic disease prevention, broadband internet access and access to telehealth services.

“Older adults are being hospitalized at far greater rates for COVID-19 than their 18 to 49-year-old peers” the report states. “And 95% of Michigan COVID-19 deaths are those who are 50 and older, with a median age of 77. Despite making up 14% of Michigan’s population, African Americans account for 33% of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 40% of deaths in the state.”

Furthermore, nearly one-third of Michigan’s COVID-related deaths have been nursing home residents. According to the report, allowing aging residents to age in place—in their own homes or homes of family members or caretakers—can help reduce the risk of exposure in nursing homes by up to 23%.

“[Aging residents] want to age in place and yet our state spends more money to send people to nursing homes than it would cost to have them stay in their own home, with the proper support,” Paula Cunningham, director of AARP Michigan told Bridge Magazine.

Below are just a few of the recommendations highlighted in the report:

  • Enact a Family Caregiver Tax Credit to support Michigan families caring for aging relatives.

  • Increase access to respite care to help familial caregivers balance care giving, career and other responsibilities.

  • Boost enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for households with seniors.

  • Expand broadband internet access to areas with limited access to both internet and health care services to allow more seniors to participate in telehealth opportunities.

AARP Michigan hopes that by considering these recommendations and more that seniors will be able to age in place and still have access to basic needs regardless of race, location or income.

“It's a no brainer in my mind,” Cunningham said. “This saves lives and helps people to do what they want, which is to age in place.”

CMF’s Michigan Grantmakers in Aging (MGIA) Affinity Group hosted a conversation on June 23 where members addressed some of the issues mentioned in the report.

Want more?

Read Disrupt Disparities 2.0: During and After COVID-19.

Learn more about the Michigan Grantmakers in Aging (MGIA) affinity group.





Cultivating Donor Relationships and Advancing Placemaking

The Knowlton's Ice Museum of North America and endowment fund may move to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County under the community foundation’s corporate umbrella according to The Times Herald in Port Huron.

The ice museum, located in downtown Port Huron, has one of the largest collections of ice tools in the U.S., depicting a time when most American households relied on ice delivery.

The Times Herald reported that the Knowlton family created their family foundation and museum in 2000 but now they’re working with the community foundation on making a transition.

“The community foundation is the right fit for our family’s charitable legacy,” Chuck Knowlton, Knowlton Family Private Foundation trustee told The Times Herald. “We have grown an endowment fund to be available to care for the ice museum collection in perpetuity and the foundation has the expertise, dedication and transparency we wanted as a family to be able to feel good about the transfer of not only millions in charitable assets but the museum collections as well.” 

Randy Maiers, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County told CMF this is another example of their approach to deepening donor relationships and their growing portfolio of place-based philanthropy.

“Our foundation long ago moved past the traditional mindset that we are here to create, manage and administer endowment funds. Placed-based philanthropy is so much more complex these days than just managing endowments,” Maiers said. “Today’s donors have complicated estates, assets and goals for carrying on their philanthropic legacy long after they are gone. Especially in more rural regions like ours, our foundation has often accepted the role of actively developing, owning and managing real property, buildings, land, etc., when we find it’s in the best long-term interests of our region’s growth and prosperity. We have a long history of blending arts, culture and placemaking into community and economic development strategies.”

Maiers shared that internally the community foundation does not advocate for annual fundraising or asset development goals or targets.

“We are a donor and community-centric organization; we never want donors or their advisors to feel like we are trying to close a deal and finalize a gift in order to meet arbitrary fundraising goals. This mindset leads to a more relaxed and genuine conversation and allows us to take our time to truly understand donor intent, as well as our own capacity to fulfill that donor intent before a contract is ever finalized.”

Maiers said that was the case with the Knowlton family. The community foundation began conversations with them in 2008, which led to them establishing endowment funds with the community foundation and opening the door to begin conversations about what to do with their assets in the future.

“Bringing the Knowlton Foundation and museum under our corporate umbrella is certainly a new challenge, yet our past experience owning a youth home, plaza courtyard, river walk and Art Studio 1219 gives us the confidence to accept this challenge,” Maiers said.







The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation Celebrates 10 Years, Releases 5-Year Strategic Plan

The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation celebrated its 10 year anniversary by releasing The Road Already Traveled and the Journey Forward, highlighting its past grantmaking and outlining its plan for its future.

“Over the past 10 years, we have learned a tremendous amount, and we now see how our role has expanded beyond that of funder to include thought leader,” John Erb, chairman and CEO of the Erb Family Foundation wrote. “This is possible because our collaborative efforts have created natural bridges for convening experts to have thoughtful, impactful conversations about the issues that challenge us most.”

The report provides an in-depth summary of the foundation’s first 10 years of grantmaking in the following impact areas:

  • Environment: Over $47 million was granted to support a clean and healthy Great Lakes ecosystem and environmental health, justice and equitable development in metro Detroit.

  • The Arts: Since 2009 the foundation granted over $20 million to arts organizations and programs in the Detroit area, including grants for jazz education, a personal passion of Fred A. Erb.

  • Alzheimer’s Research: The foundation’s funding for Alzheimer’s research—focused on prevention, management and treatment—totaled over $3.4 million.

In addition to the 10-year retrospective, the report includes an overview of the foundation’s next five years of grantmaking, including adjustments to its impact areas.

“Building on our success of the first 10 years, we will refocus our efforts, keeping the same themes yet placing new emphasis on how we approach them and measure our impact,” Neil Hawkins, president, Erb Family Foundation wrote. “Our aim is to be more targeted and quantitative. This is a new approach for us, but one we believe is worth undertaking with our grantees and partners.”

For the next five years, the Erb Family Foundation will focus on five key areas, building off their first 10 years of grantmaking:

  • The Great Lakes: Improve water quality for communities who use the lakes as a water source, decreasing agricultural runoff into the lakes and supporting a green stormwater infrastructure.

  • Environmental Health, Justice and Sustainable Development: Focusing on reducing lead exposure levels in and around Detroit, improving air quality to combat asthma and supporting sustainable development in metro Detroit.

  • Anchor Arts: Support a vibrant arts culture in metro Detroit.

  • Jazz Education: Provide education and training to youth in the art of jazz music.

  • Alzheimer’s Research: Further support research dedicated to preventing, treating and managing Alzheimer’s.

The Erb Family Foundation hopes these adjustments will allow it to stay true to its roots while tackling emerging problems in metro Detroit and beyond.

“We must not stop now,” John Erb wrote. “The original priorities set out by my parents still guide us, yet we realize that there are more challenges now than ever before.”

Want more?

Read The Road Already Traveled and the Journey Forward.

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