Supporting a Safe and Equitable Return to the Office
As COVID-19 space restriction guidance at the state and national level eases, an increasing number of foundations are beginning to open their office spaces or plan for future re-opening.
Last week, the CMF Talent and Human Resources Affinity Group hosted a conversation to discuss the shift from working remotely to in-person, as well as the policies that members have developed to support a safe and equitable return.
While some CMF members on the line said they are choosing to stay fully remote for the time being, others have already returned to in-person work full-time. The majority of attendees, though, are using or planning for a hybrid approach that either offers employees the choice to be remote or in person, or has employees following a staggered schedule so that only a portion of staff are in the office at the same time.
During the June 14 event, members discussed challenges they’ve faced while working remotely, including losing the value of in-person collaboration, productivity and creativity.
Some members who are looking to return to the office either full-time or in a hybrid model explored the challenges of managing employees returning to work who are vaccinated and those who are not.
According to an article by Bodman Law, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidance on how employers can encourage employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine without violating equal employment opportunity laws.
Per the EEOC guidelines, employers are permitted to encourage employees to get vaccinated by offering incentives such as paid time off days and/or cash bonuses. Any incentive must not be so substantial that it is coercive.
According to the article, “employers should never impose a 'penalty' on employees who are unable to be vaccinated due to a disability, or who are unwilling to be vaccinated due to a sincerely held religious belief.
Members also described a variety of efforts to support their employees through the pandemic and the transition back into the office. One of the common initiatives that was lifted up – a survey or personal outreach to employees to understand their experiences working remotely and to welcome feedback on any unique needs they may have in returning to the office.
“I encourage you to have discussions with your team on what it means to really put people first in your planning, recognizing the impact of COVID-19 isn’t the same for all staff," Randy VanAntwerp, chief finance and operations officer at CMF said during the event. "Some of our team members might be grieving, they might be caretakers or have unique health concerns that need to be considered.”
A global survey conducted by Mckinsey & Company found that women, LGBTQ+ employees, people of color and working parents are particularly grappling with a diverse set of challenges in the COVID-19 environment.
"This is a good time for us to consider equity issues that are embedded in our current work policies and to ensure that equity is considered as we are making decisions to return to work in-person. What if we assume the need for flexibility and build in better accommodations? How can we ensure the burden of planning a safe and equitable return to the office is on organizations, not on the individual that is returning to work?" VanAntwerp said.
Many also shared that they recognize that the traditional in-person work model might never look the same.
"We have an opportunity to use this time to create a new normal in our work places that breaks from tradition and the ‘way we’ve always done it’ to create more accessibility and an environment where all colleagues are well supported and can thrive and grow together," VanAntwerp said.
VanAntwerp and Tammie TenBroeke, human relations and grants manager at CMF, have been leading CMF’s internal development of COVID-19 protocols for returning to our offices.
VanAntwerp explains that the health and safety of all employees has remained the leading priority in developing plans for the transition to working in person.
CMF staff have been working remotely since March 16, 2020.
“The overall safety of CMF staff and our members is our top priority. The wellbeing of our employees and the communities we serve will continue to drive our decision-making,” VanAntwerp said.
CMF is using a phased approach in our procedures for resuming the hosting of in-person meetings and events and for the opening of CMF’s physical offices.
There are four phases in total:
• Phase One: Staff are not permitted to initiate or attend any in-person gatherings.
• Phase Two: CMF will begin permitting small gatherings that align with capacity limits at outdoor and indoor locations that allow for appropriate social distancing.
• Phase Three: CMF will begin this phase when capacity limits have increased and social distancing guidelines are further expanded.
• Phase Four: CMF will implement a plan and appropriate safety procedures to reopen offices and end meeting and travel restrictions when social distancing directives are fully lifted.
CMF is currently in Phase One as staff are not permitted to initiate or attend any in-person gatherings and our offices are currently closed.
The decision to move from one phase to another will be made by Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO. The following considerations have helped to inform that decision making:
• Local, state and federal regulations and recommendations.
• Family care options and availability.
• Vaccine pervasiveness.
• The ability to maintain social distance throughout CMF’s building space and shared common areas.
• Requests for ongoing remote work arrangements.
If you’re interested in seeing a draft of CMF’s draft plan, please connect with Tammie TenBroeke, human relations and grant manager at CMF.
If your organization has been working on a plan to support your staff in a safe return to offices, consider sharing your policies with our team.
Promoting Civic Engagement for Equitable District Maps
The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) recently created a statewide coalition of nonprofit organizations to ensure communities’ voices are heard in the redistricting process.
Through the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting (MICRC) Initiative, MNA is mobilizing nonprofits to achieve fair and impartial district maps for Michigan, specifically to promote racial equity so the voices of community members are lifted up and included in the important decision-making that occurs at the local, state and federal levels.
The goal of MICRC is to educate communities to be engaged with the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC).
As CMF reported, this work is supported by philanthropy with initial funding from CMF members The Joyce Foundation and Ford Foundation.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Wege Foundation and Kresge Foundation have most recently confirmed their support of the coalition.
In April, CMF’s Civic Engagement Learning Community hosted a conversation with Michigan philanthropy on Michigan’s redistricting process and the roles philanthropy can play in ongoing work to enable and empower communities to have their collective voices heard and their community needs met.
Suann Hammersmith, executive director of MICRC, spoke about redistricting at that event as well as at a community foundation CEO meeting.
As a result of this conversation, MICRC is partnering with Barry Community Foundation for a town hall event in Barry County.
“As I listened to Suann speak about an opportunity to help our community understand the non-partisan redistricting, I knew it was in the best interest of the foundation and our partners to offer this educational interaction and informational session,” Bonnie Gettys, Barry Community Foundation president and CEO said.
The town hall is being hosted by MICRC and will take place on June 30. According to the event description, the town hall is meant to engage the community on what redistricting means. The event will feature an informational presentation and a Q&A opportunity.
“We know that our voters and residents have so much information at their fingertips and we want to bring an opportunity for them to learn what redistricting is and what it means to them. We are excited to have MICRC present to Barry County about how redistricting works and how it can affect voters,” Jillian Foster, program officer at Barry Community Foundation.
“The Barry Community Foundation aims to bridge resources to improve lives in Barry County and this effort was a perfect alignment for our community.”
Learn more about MNA’s Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Initiative.
CMF’s Civic Engagement Learning Community serves as a convening body for CMF members interested and involved in efforts around redistricting, voter education and other forms of civic participation. If you’re interested in joining the learning community, please contact Kyra Hudson, CMF’s public policy fellow.
New Investments Announced in Child Care and Early Education
As more businesses begin to open and an increasing number of Michiganders are returning to their workplaces, the state is providing support to ensure families are receiving quality child care.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her proposal to invest $1.4 billion in federal child care funding to expand access to high-quality child care, make child care more affordable and support child care professionals as part of the administration's Economic Jumpstart Plan.
In the Governor’s executive budget recommendation, she proposed a $370 million investment to expand access to no-cost or low-cost childcare for 150,000 more families.
CMF members have been supporting projects that work to create a more equitable child care system in Michigan.
The Fund will “invest in innovative regional and community pilot projects which target several priorities” including:
• Advancing child care as essential community infrastructure for economic growth and development, business productivity and school readiness.
• Improving the wages, benefits, on-the-job supports and professional learning of early educators.
• Accelerating the start-up and expansion of licensed child care businesses in areas with more than three children under age five.
• Collaborating on child care solutions with employers to help working families.
• Increasing the economic viability and sustainability of child care businesses.
Applications are now being accepted for the first round of funding opportunities.
A recent bipartisan legislative proposal aims to further improve access to child care.
The proposal would allow child care providers to operate in multi-use buildings which could give working parents more child care options closer to their homes.
The bill would additionally create a contract model to increase access to infant and toddler child care in areas where families do not have close access.
Another component of the bill would create statewide child care networks to provide business support for providers.
Earlier this month, Governor Whitmer announced her plan to support early education. The plan would increase funding for the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), the state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children.
According to the press release, investments in GSRP provide both immediate and long-term results, such as improved literacy performance by 3rd grade, narrowed achievement gaps between students in low- and high-income homes and improved high school graduation rates.
The plan also calls for an additional $50 million in federal funds to support:
• Ensuring an adequate supply of providers based on regional demands through grants to providers.
• Ensuring additional access to transportation for early education.
• Providing scholarships to early educators to ensure teaching staff are properly credentialed.
• Expanding outreach efforts to increase parental awareness of the availability of free programs in their area and developing web resources to connect parents to all programs in their area.
"We have a unique opportunity right now to make the type of investments in early education and preschool that will pay massive dividends by improving health, educational, and social outcomes for our children decades down the line," Governor Whitmer said.
Learn more about The Child Care Innovation Fund.
Read more about the Governor’s child care investment.
Learn more about the Governor’s plan to support early education.
New National Reports Provide Key Sector Insights
We’re highlighting two reports, Impact in Place: Emerging Sources of Community Investment Capital and Strategies to Direct it at Scale and Giving USA 2021.
Giving USA 2021
The Giving USA 2021 report offers a comprehensive look at American philanthropy. The report was researched and written by Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
The findings for the report come from an analysis of IRS tax data for 128 million U.S. households, as well as other surveys.
According to the Associated Press, the report, which is available for purchase, highlights that charitable giving in the United States reached a record $471 billion in 2020.
“In some ways, 2020 is a story of uneven impact and uneven recovery,” Amir Pasic, the dean of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said in a statement.
“Many wealthier households were more insulated from the effects of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic shock, and they may have had greater capacity to give charitably than households and communities that were disproportionately affected and struggled financially.”
Foundations also increased their giving. According to the AP coverage, report findings show foundations increased their total giving by 15.6% to a record $88.55 billion in 2020, after adjusting for the effects of inflation.
According to the Washington Post’s coverage of the report, those donations made up about 19% of the total share of contributions which is the largest that has ever come from foundations.
Most nonprofit categories saw an increase in contributions, particularly to civil rights organizations and other charities.
However, arts and culture nonprofit organizations and general nonprofit hospitals and disease-specific health organizations saw a decline in giving. According to the report, this is common during economic recessions as donors focus on “immediate basic needs.”
Impact in Place
The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance report, Impact in Place, commissioned by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, explores the community investment landscape within the past year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and “how emerging capital sources and strategies could help shape the future of the field.”
The report reflects on the existing community investment landscape to understand and preserve the “relative importance of various capital sources.”
The report also offers several recommendations to investors and advisors to increase the efficiency of investment capital to underserved communities.
According to the report, community investing is broadly defined as investment capital that flows to underserved communities for economic development, affordable housing and growing small business ecosystems.
The report includes foreword from Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, and chair, U.S. Impact Investing Alliance.
In his foreword, Walker recognizes the economic fallout as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and addresses the disproportionate affects the pandemic has had on historically disadvantaged and underserved communities.
“As we transition to a new year and the next phase of the pandemic, leaders at all levels, and from every sector, must act swiftly to deliver investment capital to these overlooked populations in financial distress and build a more inclusive capitalism. We can no longer afford to bifurcate how we invest capital and how we deploy it for good. We must, instead, integrate our approach to ensure real, equitable impact,” Walker shared in the report.
The report highlights several case studies that detail community investment efforts and their approaches.
Jennifer Oertel, CMF’s Impact Investing Expert in Residence says it gives her “great hope” that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York brought light to impact investing through funding this study.
“When CMF began its journey with this work nearly a decade ago, it was mainly philanthropy (especially environmental organizations) and groups supporting main street entrepreneurs that were focusing upon using investment assets to intentionally create social impact,” Oertel said. “I think this increased acceptance and promotion of impact investing by traditional institutions will help to convince those that were hesitant to take the plunge and explore the possibilities with us.”
Access the full Giving USA 2021 report.
Connect with CMF’s Impact Investing Expert-in-Residence, Jennifer Oertel, to learn more.