July 31, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Part II: Civic Engagement:  Advocating in August for Issues that Impact Your Work

This week we’re continuing our two-part series on civic engagement by highlighting policies affecting the communities we serve.

As CMF shared last week while diving into philanthropic infrastructure policies that require attention, civic engagement and community dialogue can help examine and address issues in the communities we serve and shape policies that affect the economic, health and well-being of our communities. Civic engagement includes talking to your lawmakers about what’s impacting your shared community.

Are you concerned about what you can and can’t do when talking with legislators? We have a couple of helpful resources, check out Stand for Your Mission (page 4) and the Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook.

Health Care
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) currently remains in place following the Senate voting against repealing it. Under the ACA, the Healthy Michigan plan is available through Medicaid expansion and provides health care coverage to more than 677,019 low-income individuals between the ages of 19 and 64 in Michigan, reducing Michigan’s uninsured population from 12.3 percent to less than 6.5 percent. Nonpartisan research has shown reducing this plan through health care reform would likely affect our state’s health and economy.

Talking points

  • Our state’s Medicaid expansion has generated 39,000 new jobs in Michigan annually, nearly 22,000 outside of the health care sector.

  • Increased personal income associated with new employment is estimated to be nearly $2.2 billion and has resulted in an approximately $145 million boost in tax revenue to the state.

  • Michigan’s Medicaid expansion has led to 90 percent of hospitals seeing reductions in uncompensated care and more. Prior to this reduction, uncompensated care costs were previously covered through charitable gifts or through the increases in costs of other services. This program has improved our hospital system’s ability to serve people and reduced the financial strain on our communities and on philanthropy to fill the gaps.

  • Through Healthy Michigan, more than 590,000 Michiganders received a primary care visit. Providing Michiganders with access to health care makes Michigan healthier, reducing the burden of philanthropy to address long-term issues that are the result of people not receiving health care.

Our action: The state of Michigan is advocating for continuing the Healthy Michigan Plan and the state budget recommends full funding continue for the program. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is advocating for additional considerations that would build upon the existing improvements of the system. View the state’s points and our printable PDF of talking points here. 

Take a deeper dive with our talking points. 

Federal Budget
Recently, a House subcommittee recommended continued funding for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), two organizations that were slated for elimination. The subcommittee’s recommendations must make it through the budget process. The House has also included full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). These are promising moves that highlight how your advocacy has had an effect regarding these issues and their importance to our communities. The Community Development Block Grant and the Corporation for National and Community Service are two other major programs that require further engagement with legislators to ensure continued funding.

Talking points

  • The Community Development Block Grant program supports seniors, low-income individuals and families in housing, access to childcare and education, Head Start programs, economic development projects, infrastructure, transportation, housing, disaster relief and public services.

  • Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) invests more than $30 million in Michigan. CNCS mobilizes volunteers, provides disaster services, builds economic opportunities, provides leadership and resources to strengthen the charitable sector and more, through its programs such as: AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund and the Volunteer Generation Fund. There’s more than 9,585 people providing services to more than 2,000 sites in Michigan through CNCS and more than $99 million in scholarships have been awarded in Michigan through AmeriCorps since 1994.

Our action: We’re asking our legislators to consider the ramifications to these programs such as the loss of jobs and the impact to the state budget so there’s a plan for how these needs can be met, as philanthropy cannot replace government funding.

Take a deeper dive with our previous coverage.

Census 2020
The census is used to allocate billions of dollars in government funding, assign U.S. House of Representatives seats and provide data instrumental to the social sector. Decisions that could impact the equity and accuracy of our census counts are being made now. Testing or “dress rehearsals” for the census are happening in 2018, demonstrating the urgency for funding to build the platform that will be tested next year and used in 2020.

Talking points
Why we need an accurate and equitable count in Census 2020:

  • Census data helps determine how $500 billion in federal funding will be spent on critical federal programs, such as food assistance, housing vouchers, Head Start, healthcare and much more. This data also helps shape economic development projects as businesses use it to help determine where they should locate or expand.

  • Michigan receives more than $17 billion in federal funds to support such critical programs, without an accurate count our state would receive less federal funding.

  • Unfortunately, not everyone gets counted and often our most vulnerable communities get overlooked, including people of color, low-income communities, children, renters and the homeless.

  • Michigan stands to lose $1,800 of federal funds per year for every person who isn’t counted.

  • Census data is used to reapportion the 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats among the states. Without an accurate count in 2020, Michigan could lose a congressional seat, resulting in a decrease in the number of seats Michigan has in the Electoral College.

Our action: CMF supports full 2018, 2019 and 2020 funding for the 2020 Census in order to ensure an accurate and equitable count. A full plan to support these efforts is emerging from Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) with support from CMF, on how philanthropy can support Michigan through MNA’s Get Out the Count Campaign to partner with nonprofits to ensure all Michiganders are counted in Census 2020.

Take a deeper dive with our previous coverage.

Want more?

Check out Part I: Civic Engagement, Advocating in August for Issues that Impact Your Work.

Take another look at the Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook for a refresher on how you can advocate.

Check out the different roles foundations can play in advocacy via Stand for Your Mission (page 4).

Connect with Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker, director of policy and practice.






Creating Pathways to College in the Early Years

Providing access to college for Michigan students is a priority for the state, the education department, the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) and many CMF members to ensure opportunities for higher wage jobs and prosperity.

MCAN is part of the national network called the National College Access Network (NCAN), which recently shared a white paper, supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, about strategies that can engage students in middle school and earlier to create connections to a pathway to college.

Fast facts about the importance of increasing college access via MCAN

  • By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training

  • Due to a rising demand in postsecondary education and training, if our current college graduate rates don’t increase with that demand, by 2020 we’ll have 5 million fewer workers than we need with higher education.

NCAN shares how middle school is a critical time to begin preparing a student for college, citing research that shows 92 percent of seventh and eighth graders said they would like to attend college but the majority didn’t have information on how to prepare. The white paper outlines several programs and strategies that can be used as models to align information, financial assistance and college awareness for students as early as possible.

Early strategies at work include:

  • Children’s Savings Accounts: Such programs provide investment accounts for young children to build savings and incentives to attend college. These can be developed and driven by the state, funders and community stakeholders.
  • The effect: A child from a low-income family with a college savings account is more likely to head to college. Research indicates a child “with school savings of $500 or more is about five times more likely to graduate from college.”

  • How it works: A program can partner with local financial institutions to provide a saving accounts. There are different structures that can be used for this model, some provide an initial seed deposit and ongoing matched savings.

  • NCAN recommendations for equitable implementation:

    • Make sure the application process is easy and user-friendly to ensure families don’t face barriers if they need to apply.

    • Donate the minimum deposit or ensure that it’s low and feasible for families.

    • Employ seed deposits and/or fund-matching with assistance from community partners.

In Michigan, we’re seeing community foundations creating county-wide children’s savings accounts starting with kindergartners, first with Barry County Community Foundation’s Kickstart to Career program.

This fall, both the Community Foundation for Muskegon County (CFMC) and Sanilac County Community Foundation (SCCF) are launching similar programs.

The savings accounts are all geared towards providing seed money in a savings account and automatically enrolling all kindergartners in the county, to encourage financial literacy and a pathway to college.

CFMC told MLive the savings account, inspired by Barry County’s, builds upon their existing scholarship programs.

"We realized that incentives to finish high school and to imagine a productive life after high school had to be in place really early," Chris McGuigan, president, CFMC said.

  • Place-based Promise programs provide a guaranteed amount of money or full-tuition scholarships for all students in a specific geographic region.
    • The effect: The Promise model has increased college attainment from 36 to 48 percent. The return on investment for scholarship dollars is estimated to be 11.3 percent.

    • How it works: Promise programs “promise” funding for college for students based on where they live or go to school, not their socioeconomic background. There are various models from the scope and level of financial commitment to place-based and education requirements.

    • NCAN’s recommendations for equitable implementation:

      • Make a Promise program place-based. They offer scholarships or free tuition based on where students graduate high school.

      • Designed for low-income and first-generation students. Make sure the process and requirements can be met, NCAN notes that asking a student to complete community service may be a barrier as the student could be working to help their family.

      • No or low merit requirement. This removes barriers for students to participate, many programs utilize a GPA requirement during the student’s college career only.

The Kalamazoo Promise, highlighted in the report, began in 2005 by anonymous donors to offer free college tuition and fees for students up to a decade after their high school graduation. It’s a first-dollar scholarship and there’s no GPA requirement during K-12 but they must maintain a 2.0 in college to retain the funding. The Kalamazoo Promise has led to 24 percent increase in enrollment in the public schools and construction on the first new schools to be opened in the city in 40 years, according to W.E. Upjohn Institute, a CMF member. The Kalamazoo Promise has led to the creation of other similar programs across the country.

The Challenge Scholars program, led by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, began in 2014 and offers scholarships to cover tuition and fees for two or four years of free college tuition, after a Pell Grant (federal assistance) is awarded, to cover the rest of college tuition and fees. When the program began in 2014 it was available for all students who began sixth grade at one of two middle schools on the city’s westside and graduated from Union High School. Challenge Scholars announced earlier this year it’s expanded to include all incoming ninth graders at the high school, regardless of where they went to middle school.

These are just two of the many Promise programs underway in the state, in fact MLive has reported that Michigan has more Promise programs than any other state.

Many CMF members are engaged in different scholarship models to promote access to college for students in their communities.

As for sharing information with students and making sure they’re connected to resources for college, MCAN just announced its expanding its AdviseMI program to place more college advisors in high schools to provide information and guidance, focusing on schools that have a lower number of students attending college.

Want more?

Join CMF’s Scholarship Learning Community for its annual meeting on August 16.

Read NCAN’s white paper: College Access and Success Strategies that Promote Early Awareness in Middle-Level Grades.






Our Philanthropic Network is Expanding

The United Philanthropy Forum, formerly known as the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, recently unveiled its new name and a strategic shift, doubling its membership by welcoming 27 new national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs).

As United Philanthropy Forum shares, the 27 new national members along with 33 regional associations (RAs) of grantmakers (including CMF), makes them the largest network serving philanthropy in the country.

CMF is a leading member and supported the founding of the Forum. This expanded network of PSOs means that CMF can connect our members systematically to the PSOs in issue and identity areas.

This new membership structure convenes CMF and other RAs alongside national partners we may already work with such as ABFE, PEAK Grantmaking, EPIP and GEO to name a few, and helps create new connections as well, providing an avenue to deepen relationships, have more access to expertise and content that can help members be more effective in growing their impact.

“The Forum has implemented a new vision to be the place where philanthropy’s infrastructure comes together, integrating regional PSOs' deep regional roots and connections with national PSOs' deep content knowledge and reach in a more comprehensive and strategic way,” Dave Biemesderfer, president and CEO said. 

CMF members such as Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ford Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation are supporters of the Forum as it’s an important component of philanthropic infrastructure.

The Mott Foundation’s Civil Society program supports such work to ensure that nonprofits have information and public policy support to respond to the needs of the areas we serve, sharing that “A strong nonprofit infrastructure benefits all charitable groups and the people they serve.”

A strong philanthropic infrastructure to help us work better and work together was the intention behind the creation of the Forum.

In the 90s, Dottie Johnson, then president and CEO of CMF, was part of a team of leaders from RAs involved in a working group who sought to convene and connect RAs to collaborate, learn and share resources to better serve their memberships. This work helped lead to the creation of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

The Forum has created an expansive network for RAs to connect their learning, content, tools and expertise beyond their own region, to tap into what other states were doing that could be modeled and increase impact at home.

Since then, CMF partnerships have developed and grown, leading to the creation of learning opportunities for members including the Tri-State Webinar Series, which is a collaboration with Philanthropy Ohio and the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance. 

Our new webinar series that rolled out this year which include the Midwest Family Foundation Webinar Series and Midwest Corporate Giving Webinar Series were created due to our strong regional partnerships, making more content and expertise available to our members.

Policy and advocacy learning opportunities have also grown, the Forum’s PolicyWorks was incubated by CMF and led by the Forum to educate and engage RAs in policy and how it relates to philanthropy.

The network of RAs within the Forum also led to the co-development of many essential communications and best practice tools, leveraging more resources for grantmakers in Michigan and across the country.

Since the Forum’s inception, CMF has seen a growth of connections, partnerships, programs and resources that we have helped develop as well as shared from other RAs with members. The new national partners as part of the United Philanthropy Forum present a host of new opportunities for CMF members and for philanthropy as we grow our network to increase our impact.

Want more?

Check out who’s in our growing network.






Capital Region Community Foundation crowdsources community ideas for placemaking projects

Content excerpted from a Capital Region Community Foundation press release. Read the full release here.

Capital Region Community Foundation is developing a master plan using community input to help guide placemaking projects in Lansing.

The community foundation held a contest, Penny for Your Thoughts, to get the community excited and engaged in the planning process. A committee of urban planners and placemaking experts reviewed the community’s ideas and made recommendations to the community foundation based on the feasibility and potential impact of the projects.

“We are thrilled that so many residents care about making our city and region vibrant and are participating in the process,” Dennis Fliehman, president and CEO of Capital Region Community Foundation said. “Just as community foundations in Port Huron and Muskegon have revitalized their communities with similar placemaking projects, we will lead projects big and small that, collectively, will make our community more vibrant and attractive to talent.”

Capital Region Community Foundation said that plans include downtown riverfront development including public seating, an outdoor classroom space, improved boat access, enhanced parks, fishing areas and more.

The foundation is also exploring business models and locations for an urban market, modeled after downtown markets in Grand Rapids and Flint.

“Already, we have received positive feedback from several individuals and businesses that understand placemaking is an investment that attracts and retains a talented workforce and jobs,” Fliehman said “We know an improved economy helps everyone, especially the disadvantaged.”

The foundation is encouraging the community to continue sharing ideas.

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