July 20, 2020

Monday, July 20, 2020

In Appreciation of America’s Conscience Bearers

A Message from Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of CMF

On Friday America lost two civil rights icons, the Reverend Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian and Congressman John Lewis.

In this time of tremendous inequality and inequity, as calls for systemic change continue, the lives and deeds of these two men offer hope and a roadmap to prosperity and equality. As civil rights leaders and champions, they held up our collective conscience and helped us with the struggle to be that more perfect Union.

Vivian called for our country and our fellow citizens to see each other for our humanity and the dignity that must be afforded to all in a nation born on the aspirational principle that all are created equal. Well before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act, Vivian marched, organized and proselytized the gospel of equal rights and equal justice under the law. In 1947 he was part of what has widely been recognized as one of the first nonviolent protests in the U.S. civil rights era. Until his final days, he remained a stalwart champion for civil rights. He worked alongside hundreds in the fight for freedom and justice, including alongside Ms. Rosa Parks.

When asked about Vivian, Parks once said: “Even after things had supposedly been taken care of and we had our rights, he was still out there, inspiring the next generation, including me.”

One of those inspired civil activists was Rep. Lewis, who also passed away on Friday. Lewis' historic fight against racial injustice spanned many decades. In his early days of activism he stood up a student civil rights movement grounded in nonviolence, he was a Freedom Rider, he risked his life to organize and lead hundreds of people during the march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and much more. While Lewis carried the physical scars of the brutal beating he received at the hands of Alabama state troopers during the march in Selma, his soul remained healed. He never called for revenge, nor expressed hatred for his abusers. Instead, he called for forgiveness, understanding and even love for those who were diametrically opposed to his cause, not to mention his right to be treated equally. Still, he called for a continuation for the fight for justice, humanity, freedom, dignity and prosperity.

I never had the opportunity to meet either man, although I will continually live in the benefit of their presence. It is only because of their deeds, their teachings and sacrifices that I and other persons of color have the opportunity to lead. It is because of their examples that I feel the duty to ensure we understand and embrace what equity can and should mean to every person and recognize the responsibility we have in our community of philanthropy to make that our reality. We work in a field premised on the belief that it is our responsibility to engage in deeds for the love of humankind. These two American icons will be known for their acts in the quest for civil rights, transformative work that was grounded in the true definition of philanthropy.

I am tremendously grateful that we had these two heroes in our world and I am profoundly struck by the responsibility each of us has to carry forward their work. As one of our early civil rights leaders, Harriet Tubman quoted John 14:3 from the Bible just before her own passing, “...I go and prepare a place for you...” Thank you, Reverend Vivian and Congressman Lewis for preparing our way. 

*This message has been updated with a correction to reflect that Harriet Tubman quoted John 14:3 from the Bible.






Ongoing Challenges and Supports for Nonprofits During COVID-19

As small businesses and nonprofits continue to face their own unique challenges during the pandemic, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is launching a program to provide additional support.

The state of Michigan allocated $100 million from CARES Act funding to MEDC to create The Michigan Small Business Restart Program (MSBRP) that will provide capital to Michigan nonprofits and small businesses for payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utilities and other expenses.

Due to the multi-pronged crisis our communities are facing, many nonprofits are navigating a myriad of challenges in capacity as well as a lack of human and financial capital.

In addition, many nonprofits have canceled major in-person fundraising events, in many cases losing opportunities to attract their typical donations. Roger Bandeen, director of Veterans Serving Veterans in Cadillac, estimates that by canceling their in-person fundraising efforts the organization has lost out on nearly $150,000 in annual revenue.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep the lights on,” Bandeen told the Cadillac News. “All this has sure made it hard for charities.”

Doreen Lanc, executive director of the Cadillac Area Community Foundation told the Cadillac News that $450,000 will be allocated from the MSBRP to nonprofits in Wexford and Missaukee counties to help fill gaps.

“This grant opportunity is going to be huge for 501(c)3s,” Lanc said. “Much of 501(c)3’s operational costs are typically covered by (fundraising events) golf outings, lunches and dinners, which had to be canceled. Unfortunately, the levels of resources for emergency shelter, food and utility assistance are still in demand and this federal CARES Act funding is greatly needed to continue the work of these organizations.”

The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) cites other difficulties for nonprofits during this time.

“COVID is causing nonprofits to adjust greatly,” Joan Gustafson, external affairs officer at MNA said. "Some that were delivering educational programming had to pivot to cover basic needs because that is what their clients needed at the time. Some are struggling to recruit program participants because receiving services digitally just isn’t as impactful as in-person.”

To help mitigate some of those concerns for both small businesses and nonprofits, MEDC has partnered with economic development organizations (EDOs) that work in all 83 Michigan counties. The EDOs will distribute grant funding to qualified businesses and nonprofits that can show substantial revenue loss caused by the pandemic.

To qualify, businesses and organizations must be based in Michigan, have 50 or fewer employees and demonstrate a need for operational funding due to a loss of income because of the pandemic. Furthermore, at least 30% of funds are reserved for businesses owned by women, people of color and/or veterans across the state.

“We are very pleased that nonprofits are included in this funding opportunity and we hope that the regional economic development organizations that are distributing the funds reach out to nonprofits,” Gustafson said. “Many organizations are working hard to sustain operations while they serve the needs of the most vulnerable in their communities.” 

Gustafson said strong partnerships with nonprofit partners is crucial during this time.

“Partner with the nonprofits you serve, use connections you have to help them navigate specific challenges and questions,” Gustafson said. “More challenges are likely coming soon, such as addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, equity and justice and considering potential partnerships, mergers and closures. It will be very challenging for nonprofit leaders to thoughtfully consider all these critical issues and decisions if they are struggling financially.”

Throughout the pandemic, many CMF members have adapted their policies, procedures and work with their nonprofit partners to create flexibility and increase their support during this time. CMF, along with more than 20 of our members have also signed on to Philanthropy's Commitment During COVID-19 Pledge to ensure flexibility in grantmaking and in work with nonprofit partners.

In CMF’s Resource Central we have a robust list of examples of how CMF members have approached these changes with their nonprofit partners. As reflected in our webpage of CMF members’ response and relief funds, many members deployed response funding and immediate support to nonprofits.

Most recently, the Consumers Energy Foundation announced $135,000 in grants to 12 nonprofits across Michigan to support nonprofits during the pandemic.

“We want to do our part to help people, businesses and communities that will continue to feel the pandemic’s effects for months,” Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation said in a press release. “These nonprofits are meeting some of the most critical and urgent needs of Michigan’s people and communities hit hardest by the impact of COVID-19.”

Want more?

Read more on the Michigan Small Business Restart Plan.

Read MNA’s Resources for Nonprofits During COVID-19.

Check out In the Time of Coronavirus: What is the Risk to Nonprofits Nationwide? from the Johnson Center for Philanthropy.







The Strain of the Pandemic on Child Care Providers and Working Families

While many child care facilities were able to welcome back students earlier this summer, some facilities across the state have remained closed, putting providers and Michigan families in challenging situations. Even centers that have been open may still experience intermittent temporary closures for specific classrooms or their entire facility as confirmed COVID-19 cases surface and students and staff are quarantined for the safe and healthy of all.

The Brookings Institute released data on child care needs for working parents as the economy continues to reopen. Nationwide, 41 million families rely on school or child care while parents/guardians work. In Michigan, 16% to 25% of families say they are in need of child care while one or more parents work.

Child care needs are more prominent in areas with higher rates of poverty. In Saginaw, 18% of workers are school- or child care-dependent; of those, 41% live below 200% of the federal poverty line. In Niles, the numbers are even higher, at 20% and 45%, respectively.

The latest data from Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) shows that while more than 3,100 child care providers remain closed, nearly 3,000 child care providers are open across the state, including child care centers, family homes and group homes, serving over 8,700 children. Those that remain open are operating at or near 30% capacity to meet social distancing guidelines.

For those that are open challenges arise to keep children and staff safe.

“Challenges that child care providers are facing are multi-layered—from finances to HR to programmatic decisions to parent and family engagement to health and safety,” Dawne Bell, CEO of ECIC said. “Many child care providers are having challenges keeping up with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) needs. Most report facing extreme uncertainty about how to stay financially viable.”

According to Child Trends, the state continues to support child care facilities during the pandemic through the following means:

  • Paying child care providers who accept subsidies due to low attendance or closure.

  • Giving additional funding to child care facilities who care for children of essential workers.

  • Waiving or covering part of tuition costs for families who pay for child care.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) facilitates the Child Care Relief Fund, a grant program to support both open and closed child care providers in the state. The program has recently expanded to reduce the cost of care for families by 30% through the summer.

As child care providers and the families they serve continue to navigate tough times, Michigan foundations are at the forefront of not only supporting child care providers but also reimagining the future of child care in the state.

“From innovative emergency grant programs to hosting convenings to help ensure families’ and child care provider voices shape policy decisions, philanthropy is critical,” Bell said. “Philanthropic partners are already playing and can continue to play a pivotal role as thought leaders in movement nationally and here in Michigan to plan for the future. Out of crisis comes opportunity, and this is a moment to re-imagine child care and create a more equitable early childhood system.”

Want more?

Read The Brookings Institute’s data on working families and child care.

Read ECIC’s data on Michigan’s child care facilities.

Learn about Michigan’s Child Care Relief Fund.

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