Early Childhood Care and Education Savings Program to Launch Statewide
A statewide discount savings program for early childhood care and education providers is currently being tested by 20 providers around the state ahead of its official launch later this summer.
The program is led by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) through seed funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF). The initiative has also received strategic support from several other CMF members, including the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Frey Foundation, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation and Steelcase Foundation, in addition to dozens of local early childhood community partners.
ECIC estimates the discount savings program could save family-based programs which serve six to 12 kids $3,000 to $5,000 a year and savings of $5,000 to $8,000 annually for larger centers.
The program provides savings by offering centers access to pooled purchasing, help with back-end shared services and resources for combining administrative overhead costs.
“We’re looking at business savings for liability insurance, how we can help with tools for recruitment and other human resource issues they’re dealing with and providing big savings on food, health and safety supplies,” Dawne Bell, CEO of ECIC told CMF.
As one example of cost saving opportunities, Bell said many programs and centers pay as much as $20 for a box of latex gloves, while through the program they could pay only $3.
ECIC shared with CMF that this work is powered by philanthropy and evolved from a decade of planning conversations, national and statewide research and convenings hosted and facilitated by CMF members. The program builds on success and lessons learned from other states as well as input from family home-based and center-based providers.
Bell said the alarming closure rates of early childcare and education providers in Michigan highlighted the need for this new approach. There are approximately 8,000 licensed early childcare and education providers in Michigan, but as many as 100 providers close their doors each month in our state.
“We want to reduce that closure rate dramatically and we expect to see measurable increases in quality so that more families aren’t on waiting lists for slots. If we can have more providers opening their doors or staying open more families can have access,” Bell said.
ECIC partnered with researchers at Michigan State University to interview providers who had closed or were planning to close, and they shared that the primary root causes of their closures were cash flow issues and workforce challenges, including extremely high staff turnover and lower wages.
Administrators shared that beyond the work of running their businesses they were also needed for tasks ranging from filling staffing gaps in their classrooms to making late night stops at the grocery store to buy food for the children ahead of the school day.
Through the discount savings program Bell said the providers will save thousands, streamline their business practices and be able to focus more on the children.
“They’re going to be able to reinvest the cash savings in their business, pay their workers a little more which will help with retention, buy more supplies and increase quality for kids. And, they may be able to pass savings on to families to keep childcare more affordable,” Bell said.
The discount savings program is a membership model with an annual fee of $50 to $100 based on the provider size and will be available to all early childhood programs in the state later this summer.
Here’s a Facebook group you can share with early childhood education and care providers to connect with the program.
Census 2020: The Work Ahead
Following multiple court cases and extensive national advocacy work – with significant leadership from philanthropy and philanthropy serving organizations - the census forms are being printed without the citizenship question.
For the past two years, CMF has advocated alongside philanthropy serving organizations throughout the country in requesting that the federal government not add the citizenship question to the Census 2020 form because it had not been field tested. All questions on the census form to-date have been tested.
In November, the U.S. Census Bureau released the findings of its own study citing that “the citizenship question may be a major barrier” to participation. Of the 17,500 people who responded to the survey, 37 percent were unsure if the data would be used to locate undocumented individuals and 10 percent believed it would.
As part of a message to its community of members, the United Philanthropy Forum shared, “Funders and stakeholder groups worked tirelessly to stop the addition of the citizenship question. Funders signed letters, joined together on legal briefs, organized convenings, invested in research, educated other funders and the public and helped fund stakeholders to lead the opposition. We should be proud of our efforts and appreciative of the talent and commitment among the stakeholder groups who led this fight. It was a victory for democracy and removed a significant barrier to achieving a fair and accurate count. Now we can move full steam ahead on Get Out the Count efforts.”
While the citizenship question will not be on the census form, the Forum shares that the turmoil around it has created confusion and fear among historically undercounted communities.
“Stakeholders still need substantial investments in order to convince vulnerable households to be fully counted,” the Forum shared.
As the Michigan Nonprofits Complete Count Committee (NPCCC) has shared there’s still a lot of work to do before the census launches.
“We have always been committed to a fair and accurate count and now that the citizenship question controversy is finally over, we have more clarity moving forward with Get Out the Count plans,” Donna Murray-Brown, president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and co-chair of the NPCCC said. “The communications strategies for the motivation and persuasion phase of the campaign are being completed.”
Murray-Brown shared that the NPCCC and New Michigan Media are hosting a media event this Wednesday in Detroit, along with two more in August in Grand Rapids and Gaylord.
“The aim is to learn first-hand about the fears and obstacles to filling out the census from members of the media that communicate directly with the populations we hope to reach,” Murray-Brown said.
Meanwhile, census hubs around the state are also in full swing, accepting applications and deploying mini-grants to grassroots organizations doing on-the-ground outreach efforts to historically undercounted communities.
The Berrien Community Foundation recently wrapped up a series of informational meetings on its census mini grants.
“Our local nonprofit organizations are key to the grassroots efforts to count every resident in the 2020 Census,” Lisa Cripps-Downey, president, Berrien Community Foundation said. "Nonprofits, including churches and schools, are key contact points to residents who may not fill out the census form. These grants will help support nonprofit efforts to educate residents about the importance of the census and plans to get out the count.”
The Berrien Community Foundation is one of 11 CMF member community foundations serving or partnering as a regional hub through the NPCCC.
The NPCCC is led by MNA in partnership with CMF. It launched in 2017 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The campaign is supported by more than 40 CMF members and the Michigan Legislature, growing the campaign’s assets to more than $10.4 million.
Connect with the NPCCC.
New Management and Governance Tool for Investments
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has released a new resource for the field, Mission Aligned Framework for Investing, which explores ways to evaluate mission-related investments (MRIs).
WKKF shares that in 2008 the foundation allocated $100 million of its endowment for market rate MRIs. A decade later, the foundation’s deep commitment to MRIs and program-related investments (PRIs) continues.
“Our goal is to strategically disrupt the status quo in capital market practices — to drive capital to low-income communities and communities of color in order to widen pathways to opportunity,” La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of WKKF writes in the report. “We invest, learn and refine our approaches — continuously honing our strategy to better align our mission for children with market conditions.”
The Mission Aligned Framework for Investing is a management and governance tool, intended to provide insights around investments of any type or size.
The framework includes four key areas:
Alignment and evidence: How aligned is the impact an investee creates to the investor’s mission?
Measurement quality: Can the impact be measured and at what level?
Impact scalability: How scalable is the impact the investee is creating?
Disruption opportunity: What potential does the investee have of creating broader systemic change with its activities?
The report provides an in-depth look at each of these four key areas and also applies them to case studies featuring three investments from WKKF’s portfolio to show what this can look like in action.
One of the case studies highlights Revolution Foods, a company that designs, produces and delivers two million freshly prepared and healthy meals every week to school districts, food programs, community centers and early childhood centers.
The team analyzed student performance in schools served by Revolution Foods and those which were not to see if a strong connection existed between good nutrition and academic performance.
Schools served by Revolution Foods had a pass rate of 13.1 percent higher on the English Language Arts (ELA) exam than the schools that did not receive the company’s food.
The effects on the math exam and attendance were positive but small: less than 1 percent difference.
Long-term change in eating behaviors requires time, and more positive effects could likely be seen over a longer period.
When it comes to “alignment and evidence” Revolution Foods received a high score in the framework as its healthy meals and the high-quality jobs it provides align to WKKF’s mission.
As for scalability, Revolution Foods which currently serves 17 states received a 4/8 in the assessment due to the fact starting operations in a new state requires strong school and community partnerships and the costs for scaling can be high due to the need for more workers, product, facilities and transportation.
Among the three investments examined in the report, Revolution Foods received a lower “disruption” score. The report states that to achieve “the company’s long-term goal of building lifelong healthy eaters, the company needs to continue to work to ensure that their impact on children’s eating habits extends beyond one healthy meal provided at lunch time.”
Revolution Foods is working on doing so by providing breakfasts, snacks and dinners in some areas and expanding to grocery stores.
WKKF’s hope is that this tool can serve as a resource to field in MRIs.
“The team at KKS Advisors partnered with us to measure the effect of an investment on the economy writ large — including social return on investments. What they were able to do was to build a rubric by which we could begin to understand the weighting of social return,” Montgomery said.