July 18, 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dismantling Systemic Racism

The recent tragic events that have unfolded in Minnesota, Baton Rouge and Dallas have many community and philanthropic leaders wondering how we can make a real change when it comes to racial equity. The Skillman Foundation recently shared a blog on social media saying they grieve “for our country, crippled by its engrained biases and inequities.”

The Skillman Foundation is one of the many CMF members affiliated or partnered with Living Cities, a philanthropic collaboration made up of 22 foundations and financial institutions, working to improve the economic well-being of low-income people in cities.
Less than two months ago Living Cities launched Racial Equity Here, a multi-city initiative committed to improving racial equity and advancing opportunity for all. Following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who died from injuries he sustained while in police custody, Living Cities created Racial Equity Here. The program launched in five cities in the country, including Grand Rapids.

Over the course of two years, Racial Equity Here will work with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society to provide technical support and coaching for Grand Rapids and the other four cities as they analyze how their operations impact people of color and work to create solutions. The cities will complete a racial equity assessment of their core government operations with a focus on adults and youth of color, ages 16 to 24, who are disproportionately out of school or work.  The organization says that “these five cities are committed to dismantling systemic racism.”

The Center for Social Inclusion shared on its website that Racial Equity Here will have implications around the country. “By understanding how and where municipal operations affect young people of color, governments will not only better understand their role in perpetuating these disparities, but will also begin addressing them in transformative ways.”

The hope is that by guiding these five cities to examine their own operations, transparency will lead to more discussions and new programs, not just in the initial launch cities but eventually everywhere.

Learn more about Racial Equity Here.

This issue will be addressed in two sessions at CMF's Annual Conference in Ypsilanti in September. The Center for Social Inclusion will lead the session, “Let’s Talk About Race: Taking Action” and Michigan Forum for African Americans in Philanthropy (MFAAP) affinity group has developed the session “Building a Racial Equity Strategy.”

Visit CMF’s Knowledge Center for resources on diversity, equity and inclusion







Price of Education

Summer break may be well underway but the challenges facing our educational system in Michigan continue to make headlines, with troubling statistics pouring out of studies and reports. The Michigan Education Finance Study is the latest release of data, shedding light on where the money is going, as well as highlighting some concerns. The study, conducted by a Denver based firm contracted by the Department of Treasury, breaks down areas of need, equity and more.

The report found that “overall, Michigan’s school finance system is moderately inequitable, based on the results of commonly accepted methods and standards for measuring the equity of state school finance systems.” The research pointed out districts with higher need tended to have fewer resources available to serve students.

The finance study examined what schools are spending and how their students are performing. Next school year, the maximum per-pupil spending amount in Michigan will range from $7,511 to $8,229, but some districts already spend more than that. The study said that ideally Michigan schools would spend $8,667 per pupil based on the spending levels of 54 school districts researchers identified as “notably successful.” The Detroit Free Press reported that some education groups believe the findings show Michigan is underfunding schools, while others caution against interpreting the findings as meaning more money equals more academic success.

Bridge Magazine, the communications arm for The Center for Michigan, reported there are some concerns about the finance study. The magazine calculated by meeting the suggested per pupil spending it would cost an additional $1.4 billion, but noted that number would likely be higher since the study did not consider costs for special education students. Bridge Magazine cited that “an extra $1,000 in spending per pupil would increase reading and math proficiency on state test by only 1 percent.”

A spokesperson for the governor’s office responded to the report by saying “a more equitable funding system is needed and more needs to be done to measure education funding and outcomes.”

Governor Rick Snyder’s 21st Century Education Commission plans to review the finance study.

There’s no doubt that the dollars and cents going into our classrooms are getting a closer look. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education shared a spending report, highlighting a stark contrast between public education spending and corrections spending.

National statistics:

  • Over the past three decades, from 1979-80 to 2012-13, state and local spending for pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade increased by 107 percent
  • Meanwhile during that same time period spending on corrections increased by 324 percent

Michigan statistics:

  • Over the past three decades pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade spending grew by 18 percent
  • During that same time period corrections spending grew by 219 percent

Director of Michigan League for Public Policy Kids Count in Michigan Project Alicia Guevara Warren stated to reporters that the report shows, “we’re not investing in education the way that we could and that we need to be doing what we can to reduce spending in corrections.” Guevara Warren suggests looking at early childhood programs and programs for at-risk youth, “ensuring that we are increasing dollars for at-risk students, so we know what it takes to educate more students who have fewer resources.”

The Department of Education’s report shared similar sentiments, noting a better path forward would include increasing investments in education, particularly in high-poverty schools. While both reports track the money, it’s not about the bottom line. Many experts hope these studies help to fuel our ongoing conversations about the needs of our Michigan schools and finding ways to support them in achieving success.

Want more?

Read the U.S. Department of Education’s Report

Read the Michigan Education Finance Study





Social Impact Bonds

The Social Finance Global Network out of Boston has released its latest white paper, Social Impact Bonds: The Early Years. In 2010, Social Finance established the Social Impact Bond, an innovative public private partnership model that aims to significantly improve the lives of people most in need by driving resources toward more effective programs. In 2016, this model has gained noteworthy global momentum. A number of states are working on these in the U.S., including Michigan, but instead of calling them social impact bonds they were renamed to "Pay for Success." 

What’s a social impact bond?

A social impact bond is a public-private partnership that funds effective social services through a performance-based contract. Social impact bonds allow federal, state, and local governments to partner with high-performing service providers by using private investment to develop, coordinate, or expand programs. Following measurement and evaluation, if the program achieves predetermined expectations and performance metrics, then the outcomes payer reimburses the original investment. However, if the program does not achieve its expected results, the payer does not pay for unsuccessful metrics and outcomes.

Social Finance describes their mission:

“The roots of most social problems are structural, from economic forces and market failures, to political systems, to sociocultural factors. Better services are only one part of the response to these problems. But we believe Social Impact Bonds can improve the way government, the social sector, philanthropy and the investment community respond to social challenges—through partnership and collaboration, flexibility and responsiveness, investment, and a focus on data, outcomes, and measurement. By starting to design services which are responsive to need, however complex, we can constantly take what we learn and seek to do better tomorrow.”

Key highlights of the report:

  • 60 projects launched in 15 countries
  • More than $200 million raised in investment
  • 90,000 people reached through the programs
  • 22 projects have reported performance data
  • 21 projects indicate positive social outcomes
  • 12 projects have made outcome payments, either to investors or to be recycled into service delivery
  • Four projects have completed and fully repaid investor capital

In addition to the report, Social Finance is also launching its live global database of Social Impact Bonds. The database can be sorted by country, issue area, investor, payer and service provider, providing a comprehensive overview of social impact bonds launched to date and a look at the ones in development. This database will serve as a platform for the community of global practitioners and others who are actively following this growing field. They expect that user input will develop this collaborative resource.

Social Finance has also been urging legislators to pass the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act. In late June Congress passed the bill, it's headed to the Senate and has been referred to the Committee on Finance. If passed, it would support the use of Pay for Success by state and local governments by enabling federal funds to address community-identified needs using interventions that are effective, evaluated, and provide value to taxpayers. It would incentivize the more efficient use of government resources to reward proven results.

This project and its findings will be particularly insightful and informative to members who have been working toward understanding new investment strategies and how using data to measure outcomes can have a positive influence on philanthropy as a whole. The report also offers examples of what other countries are attempting and achieving in this market.

Meanwhile, the state of Michigan is working on development of its first Pay for Success initiative. 

Read the full report.






Midland Area Community Foundation gives $10,000 grant to help dental care organization

Excerpted from Midland Daily News, read the full article here.

Midland Area Community Foundation is supporting underserved populations in Midland, Bay, Arenac, Saginaw, Genesee, Huron and Tuscola counties with receiving preventative dental care.  The community foundation gave a $10,000 grant to Dental Hygiene Health Services, a nonprofit mobile dental hygiene organization, to buy new equipment so the organization can continue its mission. Dental Hygiene Health Services, which stresses the importance of oral health care in relation to overall health, provides dental cleanings, dental hygiene assessments, fluoride varnish treatments, dental sealants, oral cancer assessments, nutritional counseling, blood pressure assessments and dental education.

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