"Post-Graduation Scholarships Act” Could Open New Doors for Workforce Development
The “Workforce Development Through Post-Graduation Scholarships Act” is a new piece of legislation generating excitement for philanthropic entities around the country. If voted into law, H.R. 6486, would amend the Internal Revenue Code to exclude certain post-graduation scholarship grants from being treated as gross income, the same way scholarship payments made by foundations are currently treated under the tax code.
“It will give community foundations across America a new opportunity to be more strategic with their scholarship assets,” Randy Maiers, president and CEO, Community Foundation of St. Clair County (SCC), told CMF. “This program not only helps reduce the financial burden of a college degree, the same as a traditional front-end scholarship, but it also allows a community foundation to use its assets in a manner that supports economic growth and prosperity. Foundations will be able to help address talent attraction and retention.”
Maiers was instrumental in the legislation’s development. The Community Foundation of SCC launched a post-graduation scholarship program in early 2016 and since that time, Maiers has been engaged in efforts to change the related tax code. He has spoken nationally about the program, and as a result, community foundations in eight states have expressed interest in following a similar model.
“With the help and leadership of CMF, we had three meetings in Washington D.C. with staff from the U.S. Treasury to plan out an approach for eventually introducing legislation that would recognize these types of back end scholarships as a charitable activity,” Maiers explains. "From the very beginning, we have been exploring how to get legislation introduced.”
The bill's introduction came on July 24, 2018 from Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) with support from Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan as a co-sponsor. Representative Mike Bishop of Michigan on the House Ways and Means Committee has also agreed to support the Bill. A companion bill has been developed; it is anticipated that the bill will be introduced by Senator Gary Peters in the Senate in August.
“This bipartisan legislation will not only help recruit talent to often underserved areas and professions, relieve individuals of student loan debt and help foster economic development to particular regions, but charitable organizations will be provided greater flexibility to serve their unique communities,” Rep. LaHood stated.
Rep. Sewell said the bill “takes a smart approach to building a skilled workforce in underserved communities while at the same time tackling our nation’s student debt crisis.”
Regarding how such a process would work, the Council on Foundations (COF) explains in its FAQ on the bill that like traditional scholarships, a foundation would establish appropriate eligibility requirements and put in place a process to verify that those requirements continue to be met through the duration of the scholarship award agreement.
“For example, a foundation that is looking to attract nurses or doctors to a community facing a shortage of qualified health professionals could award a post-scholarship to a recipient but require that an individual live and be employed within a particular range of zip codes for a set number of years.”
COF sent a letter to every House office urging representatives to cosponsor this bill and calls on citizens to encourage their representatives to cosponsor H.R. 6486. COF has provided an online form for individuals looking to express support for the Bill to their legislators.
The Bill will be considered by the House Ways and Means Committee, of which Representative LaHood is a member, this fall.
Read COF's one-pager “Legal Background on Scholarship Grantmaking by Foundations.”
Over 350 Signatures Added to Governor’s Letter Calling for Civility in Public Discourse
Civility For Us. That is the name of a new webpage connected to the official State of Michigan website. The page features an introductory message from Governor Snyder that first explains his concerns with the “complete decline in decorum within public discourse.”
“We’ve witnessed threats and calls for violence against those that simply have a differing opinion on public policy matters,” he states. “This alarming development should be of great concern to all of us, regardless of your own positions or philosophical leanings.”
To that end, the Governor wrote an open letter regarding civility in public discourse and references on the webpage an opportunity for individuals to add their signatures to the letter, noting, “It is critical that a diverse set of voices that represent varying and sometimes opposing views speak out that respectful discourse is imperative.”
The Governor goes on to share his hope that the endeavor will be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue.
“Michigan is an exceptional place to call our home, and this is our opportunity together to show our residents that Michigan is a leader in treating people with respect and grace.”
The Governor did not state the specific reason for the letter or why it was published at this time. The letter only references that, “Our great country is increasingly at risk of losing its way as we see debate and discussion turn into personal attacks and vicious threats.”
The letter was shared with a variety of Michigan leaders in both the private and public sector in advance of its publication on July 19, 2018, as the Governor noted his desire to have "100+ voices and organizations signed on.” The Governor posted on his Twitter account that more than 350 people had signed the letter as of July 23, 2018.
Several CMF partners and individuals within Michigan’s philanthropic community have added their names, including CMF president and CEO Rob Collier.
“CMF supports and acknowledges the value in the diversity of points of view and perspectives that contribute to a vibrant state and quality of life for all Michiganders,” Collier notes. “We have learned firsthand how civility and respectful listening are underlying values contributing to the success of the many collaborative public-private partnerships that CMF has been able to support, both regionally and statewide.”
Visit the new Civility For Us webpage.
Member Spotlight: United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) Foundation
Content excerpted and adapted from a UMRC Foundation press release.
The United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) Foundation, a CMF member, recently announced that it has received a $2.5 million grant to support expansion and renovations to UMRC’s Kresge Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, located in Chelsea.
The foundation serves as the charitable arm of UMRC, a faith-based, nonprofit organization that promotes the wellness, dignity and independence of older adults.
The grant, given by the Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, is a focal part of the UMRC Foundation’s $26 million Growing to Serve comprehensive campaign to support three priority initiatives: capital projects, resident services and the benevolent care fund.
“This gift enables us to do so much more to care for the low-income older adults we serve,” Wendy Brightman, president, UMRC Foundation, and chair of the CMF Grantmakers in Aging Affinity Group, said in a press release.
“Thanks to this grant, UMRC is expanding and transforming our Kresge Center into a warm and inviting setting that feels like home for our residents. This grant literally takes our construction to the finish line.”
(The facility is named for Dorothy McVittie Kresge, the wife of Stanley Sebastian Kresge, Sr., who established the Kresge Foundation, a CMF member, in 1924.)
The capital project will be the largest to-date in UMRC’s 112-year history. It has been reported that expansion is scheduled to be completed in December, while renovation to the existing 28,000 square feet of the building will be completed next year.
“With an anticipated 40-year lifespan, this gift ...will serve more than 24,500 aging Michiganders, many who are low-income, dual eligible Medicare and Medicaid patients,” Brightman shared.