March 1, 2021

Monday, March 1, 2021

Michigan's Return to In-Person Learning 

Today marks a major milestone in the pandemic when it comes to education. All Michigan schools have the option of offering in-person learning as of today, March 1. 

In a press conference last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer shared that 85% of school districts had already reopened. 

According to a report from the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC), 97% of school districts were on track to offer in-person learning by today.

The report shared that the proportion of districts in Michigan planning to offer in-person learning has been increasing steadily each month. 

  • February saw the largest increase in districts planning to offer some form of in-person instruction since the start of the 2020-21 academic year, from 64% in January to 83% in February.

  • Districts with lower levels of student achievement and attainment pre-pandemic were less likely to plan to provide either in-person or hybrid learning options.

  • Districts with a history of low student attendance were almost twice as likely to only offer fully remote instruction.

“It’s clear we need to return to in-person learning as soon as possible,” Whitmer said. “Schools are cornerstones of healthy and vibrant communities.” 

The governor shared in her press conference that the lack of in-person learning inhibits social and emotional development for children resulting in long-term academic consequences.

“Tens of thousands of vulnerable children in Michigan risk falling through the cracks and staying stuck behind unless we make concerted efforts to catch them up,” Whitmer said.

In early February, Governor Whitmer created the Student Recovery Advisory Council to provide guidance and recommendations to ensure that students are prepared to return to in-person learning. 

The council held its first meeting on February 16 and will have its second full council meeting this Friday. 

Throughout the pandemic and e-learning, the Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) has connected our CMF community with briefings from the state, Michigan Department of Education and the governor’s office. Join us for the next briefing on March 10, COVID-19 Recovery: An Update with Governor Whitmer, for an opportunity to hear from Governor Whitmer and members of her cabinet on priorities, opportunities and concerns for Michigan’s recovery in 2021 and beyond. 

Want more? 

Read the EPIC report

Learn more about the Student Recovery Advisory Council



MI Recognizes Need for Data for Equitable Vaccine Distribution

The latest data from the state shows that over 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Michigan with 16.1% of the population vaccinated. According to data reported as of February 26, 1.3 million Michigan residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has announced several initiatives in an effort to ensure the vaccine is accessible for all Michiganders. 

Last week MDHHS announced that it is now posting race data on its COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard to "help track the effects of efforts to improve access to the COVID-19 vaccine and ensure equity when it comes to protection from the virus." 

Unfortunately, there are still gaps in the data as 39% of COVID-19 vaccine doses do not have race data recorded. MDHHS shared that its staff is working with immunization providers to improve the submission of race data for all vaccines administered. 

When it comes to Michigan residents who have received one dose of the vaccine, 43% of the recipients are white, 3.85% of recipients are Black, 1.1% are Asian or Pacific Islander and 0.3% are American Indian or Alaskan Native.

“Ensuring those who are most vulnerable are protected by the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a high priority for Michigan,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS said. “Black and Brown communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus and improving the race and ethnicity data collected for vaccinations is critical for ensuring the equitable administration of the vaccine. We will use this data to continue to drive our strategy towards making sure everyone has equitable access to the vaccines.”

Governor Whitmer created the Protect Michigan Commission, which is tasked with raising awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, educating Michiganders and helping protect the health and safety of all Michigan residents.

Kyle Caldwell, CMF’s president and CEO, serves on the commission along with other leaders from across the state.

The commission recently launched a COVID-19 vaccination strategy to get 70% of Michiganders age 16 and older vaccinated as quickly as possible. The strategy is guided by principles that include ensuring all Michiganders have equitable access to vaccines and that data is used to promote equity, track progress and guide decision making. 

As part of this strategy, a new pilot program was launched to help remove vaccine barriers for Michiganders 60 and older who live in communities with high Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) and high COVID-19 mortality rates.

In addition, 40 federally qualified health centers across the state have started to receive vaccine allocations to help vaccinate individuals age 65 and older. 

While work continues at the state level to help guide the distribution of the vaccine, a number of CMF members are also supporting efforts around vaccine awareness and education and supporting frontline workers at vaccine sites. 

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works closely with MDHHS and in particular with the Aging and Adult Services Agency. This partnership resulted in GetSetUp, a virtual training program that offers tools and resources for older adults.

GetSetUp is now offering COVID-19 vaccine informational sessions to older adults on how to navigate the Michigan COVID-19 vaccine website as well as find their local health department to register online for a vaccine appointment or to be added to the waitlist.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Genesee Chamber Foundation, to provide meals to health care workers and volunteers at Genesee County Health Department COVID-19 vaccine sites.

“These volunteers and health care workers are heroes in the battle against COVID-19. They’re doing everything they can to help keep other people safe and healthy,” Ridgway White, president and CEO, Mott Foundation and CMF trustee said. “We hope this grant will make their shifts a little more comfortable and remind them that the community is grateful for their commitment.”

The grant will also help support restaurants that have been devastated by the pandemic by purchasing meals from those establishments. 

The funding will provide approximately 3,300 total meals to an average of 75 volunteers per day.

Is your organization supporting efforts connected to the education, access or distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine? We invite you to share your story with the CMF team so we can lift up opportunities for peer engagement and share emerging grantmaking practices with our entire CMF community.

Want more?

Access the COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard.

Watch the COVID-19 Vaccine Town Halls.

The Health Fund is currently featured in CMF’s Impact Connected digital series which highlights their work supporting seniors amid the pandemic. We encourage you to follow along via our social channels using the hashtag #ImpactedConnected for more compelling stories in our community of philanthropy.




Reflecting on the Initial Launch of Michigan’s Reconnect Program

Only a few weeks after the launch of the Michigan Reconnect scholarship program, over 40,000 Michiganders have begun their path to further their education. 

It is the state’s largest effort in history to ensure Michiganders age 25 or older without a college degree have an opportunity to earn an associate degree or skills certificate. It will also help address the dual challenges of the state’s widening talent gap and aging workforce.

The program pays those who are eligible to attend their in-district community college and offers a significant tuition discount if they attend an out-of-district community college. 

To be eligible for Michigan Reconnect, residents must:

•    Be at least 25 years old when they apply
•    Have lived in Michigan for a year or more
•    Have a high school diploma
•    Have not completed an associate or bachelor’s degree

The program supports Michigan’s Sixty by 30 goal to ensure 60% of Michiganders have a degree or post-secondary credential by 2030. 

According to data from the Lumina Foundation, Michigan is making progress in increasing educational attainment but still falls behind when compared to the national average. Michigan’s attainment rate sits at 48.9% compared to the national average of 51.3%. 

The most recent data from 2018 shows that Michigan has improved the overall rate of attainment by 13.3% since 2008.

Michigan, like many states, faces significant gaps in educational attainment when the data is disaggregated by race and ethnicity. In Michigan, the attainment rate for African Americans is 25.8% compared to the national average 31.6%.

Efforts by the state like Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners, a state scholarship program for Michiganders without college degrees who worked in essential industries during the state COVID-19 shutdown in spring 2020, work to support opportunities for postsecondary education. 

Many in our CMF community have supported these efforts through various initiatives and programs. 

The Kresge Foundation continues to work to increase access to higher education through their Boosting Opportunities for Social and Economic Mobility for Families (BOOST).  

The initiative “aims to strengthen partnerships between community colleges and human services nonprofits that connect people who earn lower incomes in cities to critical human service supports and educational pathways that will help them climb the social and economic ladder.”

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County, which has worked deeply in supporting graduates who return to the community to work by paying off their student loans through the community foundation’s Come Home Award, is now looking to expand its talent attraction efforts.

The community foundation recently shared that they are expanding their efforts to “attract more remote workers, artists in residence, entrepreneurs and others who will grow the number of families, homeownership, quality of employment and the overall prosperity of St. Clair County.”

Want more?

Access Michigan education attainment data via The Lumina Foundation.

Learn more about the Community Foundation of St. Clair County’s talent attraction work.

Read more about Sixty by 30






The Skillman Foundation Launches President’s Youth Council

To further engage youth voice in its grantmaking and change-making strategies, The Skillman Foundation launched its first-ever President’s Youth Council.

Council members work with the foundation leadership to discuss issues that are important to them and advise how the foundation and its partners can better support the needs and aspirations of Detroit youth. Meetings will take place two-to-three times per year with additional smaller group meetings to focus on strategy areas.

“You cannot be a champion for Detroit youth without bringing youth voice into the fold,” David R. McGhee, the foundation’s vice president of organizational excellence and impact, said. “While we solicit youth input in many ways, the council serves as a formal structure to do so.”

The foundation asked the community-at-large for member nominations last September. It received over 170 nominations from families, educators, nonprofit leaders and other youth across the city.

“The breadth of nominations we received speaks volumes of the passion Detroit youth possesses for their peers and their city,” McGhee said. “Selecting the final members was a challenge, but we are confident that the 13 members will bring unique and innovative ideas for our work.”

The council is comprised of 13 Detroit residents between the ages of 12 and 21. Members hail from all over Detroit and from a variety of backgrounds. The members will serve two-year terms on the council.

Council members will work with the foundation’s executive leadership team and staff on strategy and will be integral in onboarding its new CEO

“Our new CEO will work with the Youth Council starting on day one,” McGhee said. “They will be vital as an example of our commitment to youth voice to whomever leads the foundation in the future.”

Each member has specific areas of the foundation’s strategies that they hope to work on, including access to quality education, youth and the justice system, employment, mental health, financial literacy and more.

Members will serve two-year terms on the council.

“While we are thrilled to offer these young people a unique leadership opportunity, this is more than just a résumé builder,” McGhee said. “These young people have the opportunity to influence real change in Detroit.”

Council members are ready for the responsibility of serving both their city and their peers.

“Serving on The Skillman Foundation’s President’s Youth Council will give me the opportunity to work with other kids who see challenges like I do and want to fix them along with the support of an organization that can guide us,” said council member Mathias Neloms, age 12.

Want more?

Learn more about The Skillman Foundation’s President’s Youth Council and its members.

News type: