March 11, 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019

Second Federal Court Rules on Citizenship Question for Census 2020

A federal judge in California has ruled against adding a citizenship question to the Census 2020 form. In the ruling, the judge stated that the question is unconstitutional and a violation of a federal statute.

The judge’s brief states in part, “The secretary’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census violates the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution because its inclusion will materially harm the accuracy of the census without advancing any legitimate governmental interest.”

In January a New York judge ruled against the addition of the question because of the way the specific process and procedures were handled by the commerce secretary in working to include it.

In the 277-page legal brief the judge noted: “The court finds that the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census will harm the quality of the resulting census data.”

As CMF has reported, during Foundations on the Hill in Washington, D.C. last year CMF joined 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 the summer, CMF members were invited to sign a grantmaker letter for foundations being circulated by the Funders Census Initiative under the leadership of the Bauman Foundation, urging the Commerce Department to remove the citizenship question. Individuals were also encouraged to submit public comments via the Federal Register.

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, based on the research.

NPR reports the New York court decision will head to the Supreme Court in late April for further consideration.







2020 State Budget Proposal

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has presented her 2020 state budget proposal, which is focused on goals around education, improving Michigan’s roads and ensuring clean drinking water for communities.

The $60.2 billion proposed budget is an increase of 3.6 percent from the current fiscal year, including additional funding planned for education priorities.


  • Per-pupil spending: Whitmer’s budget plan includes the biggest increase for public education in recent years, with $507 million in additional resources to support K-12 schools. Of that, $235 million would help to increase per-pupil funding from $120 to $180 per student.

  • Special needs and at-risk students: The governor shared that her budget recognizes it costs more to provide an equitable education to special need; at-risk and career and technical education (CTE) students. Therefore, Whitmer’s budget includes $120 million for special education students, $102 million for at-risk students and $50 million for CTE students.

  • Expanding preschool opportunities: The budget includes $85 million for expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program to make preschool programs available to more students across the state.

  • Literacy: The budget includes $24.5 million to triple the number of state-funded literacy coaches in schools to improve early literacy attainment. This aligns with Whitmer’s goal of making Michigan a leader in 3rd grade literacy rates.

Fixing the Roads

  • Fuel tax: The governor’s proposed fuel tax that’s included in the budget has already received opposition. Whitmer proposes a 45-cent increase in fuel tax costs, implemented gradually at 15 cents in six-month intervals starting this October, to help fund improvements for our roads. This aligns with the governor’s goal of getting 90 percent of our roads in good or fair condition by 2030. Currently Michigan’s roads are considered a “D-.”

  • Low-income families and seniors: Whitmer shared that the fuel tax would cost the average driver about $23 per month; she has included a plan to ensure low-income families and senior citizens are not heavily impacted by the tax. The governor’s plan includes raising the Earned Income Tax Credit to ensure low-income families receive an additional $30 per month and repealing the Retirement Tax, ensuring 400,000 seniors receive about $65 per month.

Clean drinking water

  • Improving drinking water infrastructure: A new budget request includes $120 million to improve the drinking water infrastructure. Whitmer shared that funding initiatives include service line replacements, research and treatment for PFAS, loan forgiveness, watershed planning and research to optimize water distribution systems. It also includes $60 million to install hydration stations in school buildings.

In addition to these main priorities and goals shared by the governor’s administration, the 2020 budget also includes $4 million for the expansion of the Double Up Food Bucks program. Developed by the Fair Food Network and supported by nearly 30 CMF members, the program matches $1 for $1 on SNAP dollars spent on fresh produce at farmers markets, produce stands and grocery stores to ensure Michigan communities have access to healthy food. The budget increase would expand the program from 65 counties to all 83 counties in Michigan.

The governor’s budget now heads to the Legislature. Whitmer closed her budget presentation with an appeal to lawmakers, asking for their approval on her budget plan.

“I think we have an opportunity to get this done and to show the world that divided government doesn't have to look like what happens in Washington, D.C. every day because that kind of government hurts families and in an economy that is trying to grow,” Whitmer said. “It undermines confidence and compromises the future of our state. We have a chance to make Michigan a model of bipartisanship, and we must.”

Once a final version is approved by lawmakers, it will go in effect this fall, as the state’s 2020 fiscal year begins October 1.

Want more?

Check out the full budget proposal.







Hate Groups on the Rise in MI

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) is working on a new process to document hate and bias incidents in the state following a rise in the number of cases.

This comes following the latest release of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Hate Map report which shows Michigan saw a 6.5 percent increase in active hate and extremist groups in 2018.

SLPC’s data:

  • In 2018, Michigan had 31 active hate and extremist groups.

  • Over the last decade Michigan has seen an increase of more than 19 percent in such groups.

  • These groups are in communities throughout the state including Alpena, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Petoskey, to name a few.

“This is a troubling trend,” Agustin Arbulu, director, MDRC said. “These groups range in the ideological extremes from anti-Muslim, to anti-LGBT to black nationalists and white nationalists. Particularly of concern, over one half of the identified groups are located east of US-23 between Flint and Ann Arbor.”

Currently in Michigan, MDCR shares that hate and bias incidents “are those instances where an action does not rise to the level of a crime or civil infraction.”

MDCR shares an example of a hate incident that happened in Lansing that negatively impacted the community but was not illegal. A white nationalist group posted flyers targeting immigrants and Jewish people, but the flyers were not considered illegal because they were protected as free speech under the First Amendment.

MDCR announced that its working to create a system where these incidents are documented in a database so MDCR can work with community partners and create targeted awareness and education programs to address these incidents.

“Identifying and calling out hate and bias incidents is an important tool in our toolbox to educate Michiganders about the undertone of hatred in our communities,” Arbulu said. “But they also serve as a first step in developing community dialogue to strengthen our collective resolve to reject hate, bias and division. The department looks forward to helping all of our community partners in fostering these important, powerful and ultimately life-changing discussions as we become more diversified.”

In addition, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she is creating a hate crimes unit.

"Hate cannot continue to flourish in our state," Nessel said. "I have seen the appalling, often fatal results of hate when it is acted upon. That is why I am establishing a hate-crimes unit in my office -- to fight against hate crimes and the many hate groups which have been allowed to proliferate in our state."

In 2016, Nessel co-founded the Justice Project with Kym Worthy, Wayne County prosecutor to investigate and prosecute hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.

In 2018, CMF’s Michigan Forum for African-Americans in Philanthropy Affinity Group (MFAAP) held a convening and hosted a session at Annual Conference on hate crimes and philanthropy’s role in combating hate.

As for the statewide database and hate crimes unit, there’s no specific timeline as to when they will be in operation. In the meantime, the MDCR encourages the reporting of hate crimes via their website. The site also includes trainings and resources.

Want more?

Check out the data from SPLC.

Learn more about the work of MDCR.







MI Graduation and Attainment Rates Show Improvement

We’re getting a look at new data on the state and national level that shows how Michigan stacks up when it comes to high school graduation and post-secondary attainment rates.

According to data from the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) shared by the state, a larger percentage of Michigan high school students graduated in the 2017-2018 school year, increasing Michigan’s statewide four-year graduation rate to 80.64 percent.  

CEPI shares we are getting a clearer picture about what’s happening statewide as this is the first-time subgroups of students including those in foster care, students who are considered military connected and Early Middle College students have been included in the data set.

“Adding these new demographic subgroups provides the ability to review and better understand how all Michigan students are progressing through their education,” Tom Howell, executive director, CEPI said. “Having this additional context to our graduation and dropout rates will help us evaluate and better work toward equity for our children.”

The data provides insights on four, five and six-year graduation rates. While the four-year rates are improving, we did see a slight uptick in our state’s four-year dropout rate. Currently it sits at 8.73 percent, up from 8.65 percent in 2017.

There’s no explanation as to why we are seeing a slight increase in dropout rates, but Shelia Alles, interim state superintendent, said we are heading in a positive direction with the graduation rates.

“Getting more students through high school and on to a postsecondary program will help us reach Governor Whitmer’s goal of 60 percent of Michigan residents with a postsecondary credential by the year 2030,” Alles said.

As CMF reported last month, the governor announced the goal in her State of the State address. Prior to her announcement Michigan was one of only nine states in the U.S. without a formal goal for postsecondary attainment.

Many CMF members have been engaging in this work for some time through their Local College Access Networks (LCAN) and the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), many of which were initiated through subgrants from The Kresge Foundation to community foundations throughout the state.

MCAN adopted the Lumina Foundation established goal of 60 percent postsecondary attainment by 2025.

Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN, told CMF they were “thrilled to join other states in the U.S. with an official proclamation of a specific goal.”

A new report from the Lumina Foundation shows that Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate is now at 45 percent, our highest rate ever. The national rate is 47.6 percent.

The report shows Michigan has been on a positive trajectory, with consecutive growth since 2008.

Breakdown of the data:

  • About 4 percent of Michigan residents have a certificate level education.

  • 10.4 percent have an associate degree.

  • 19.2 percent have a bachelor’s degree.

  • 11.5 percent have a graduate or professional degree.

The report also provides a county by county snapshot of attainment rates around the state.

As for Johnson, she will be taking her work from MCAN to the governor’s office. Last week it was announced Whitmer appointed Johnson to serve as the new policy advisor for postsecondary educational attainment and workforce development.

Want more?

Check out the Lumina Foundation’s full report.








CMF members head to Capitol Hill to advocate on issues of importance to philanthropy

More than 30 CMF members from all sizes and types of foundations are arriving in Washington, D.C. today for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH).

The annual event hosted by United Philanthropy Forum in partnership with CMF brings together foundation leaders from across the country to establish quality relationships with lawmakers to advance advocacy that maximizes the efforts of philanthropy.

Over the next three days they will be meeting with their Congressional delegation members and our Michigan senators to build relationships, share the work that they do and highlight issues of importance to philanthropy.

CMF will be sharing all the action from the Hill on our social media channels, which you can follow via the hashtags #CMFontheHill or #FOTH19.

Next week we’ll share a special edition of the Weekly Download detailing information shared with our lawmakers, key takeaways and perspectives of members who engaged in the visits.

Also, be sure to join us on April 2 for a webinar, Foundations on the Hill: Debrief and Download to hear from your colleagues about their experience on the Hill and what was shared.

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