March 15, 2021

Monday, March 15, 2021

CMF Community Members to Engage with Policymakers on the Power of Partnerships 

This week, members of our CMF community will be engaging with policymakers during the first-ever virtual Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). 

Over the course of the next two weeks, CMF members and CMF staff will connect with Michigan lawmakers and their legislative staff through virtual meetings, to discuss the opportunities for philanthropy and government to work in partnership for thriving, equitable communities across Michigan.

With the guidance of CMF’s member-led FOTH Planning Committee, led by Jennifer Poteat, trustee at the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation, in partnership with several other members of CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy Committee, we have designed our conversations with policymakers to highlight four specific lanes of partnership: 

  • Crisis response and relief efforts, using examples of philanthropy’s leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic.  

  • Matters of economic prosperity, education and public health, highlighting the ways that philanthropy effectively engages in these spaces. 

  • Constituent connection opportunities, recognizing the ways philanthropy serves as a convener in communities and how foundations can be an on the ground resource for policymakers to talk directly with the public. 

  • Issues that affect the health of the charitable sector, especially when lifted in policy, encouraging policymakers to invite philanthropy leaders to the table and ensure we are part of the dialogue. 

Through these FOTH visits and conversations throughout the year with policymakers, philanthropy will be highlighted as a thought partner and resource in times of crisis and throughout a policymaker’s service. CMF is also sharing videos with policymakers featuring several CMF members discussing how their foundation works in partnership with government and policymakers in their district.

“We can help convey the community voice,” Karima Amlani, vice president of development at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, shared in one of our videos. “It’s a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship, we can’t touch policy and advocacy in a way that they can.”

CMF is also asking that policymakers:

  • Support policies that incentivize all Americans to be charitable givers. 

  • Support policies that would permit tax-free distribution from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to community foundation donor-advised funds (DAFs). 

  • Ensure that efforts to address broadband affordability and accessibility are included in future infrastructure legislation to be considered. 

  • Connect with our Michigan community of philanthropy so that we may serve as a resource to you as you consider policies that may impact our ability to respond to community needs. 

CMF members and staff will also hear from policymakers on the issues they care about most and where they may see opportunities to work in collaboration.  

“We’re there to help and quite often we’re there to help when government can’t or if there is a gap between what the government and other nonprofits can provide, philanthropy is there to help fill that void,” Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation shared in a video to policymakers. 

The CMF team will be providing real-time updates on all things FOTH via our social media channels. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @michfoundations via the hashtags #FOTH2021 and #CMFontheHill.

After FOTH, there will be ongoing opportunities to engage with policymakers. This year, CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team will be providing virtual engagement opportunities with state legislators as we seek to continue year-round conversations with our policymakers at both the state and federal levels. 

Want more?

Watch CMF’s videos we’re sharing with policymakers: Michigan Philanthropy: Partners in Crisis and Beyond featuring the Community Foundation of Greater Flint and the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area as well as the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and Consumers Energy Foundation. 

Access the recording of our recent webinar: The Why and How of Engaging with Policymakers.

View CMF’s 2021 Government Relations Goals. 

View CMF's Policy Domains and Principles.





Over 365 Days in a Pandemic: Leading Through Crisis

It has now been a full year since the pandemic unfolded, changing our lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways. While the crisis continues so does the work of Michigan philanthropy as we strive to reimagine systems and eradicate the inequities the pandemic has laid bare. CMF members have also leaned in to support critical immediate response efforts to meet basic needs and lay the groundwork for recovery, including the launch of over 50 pooled relief funds around the state, either led by or in partnership with CMF members. 

Over the last 12 months our CMF community has leveraged powerful partnerships with nonprofits working on the ground, added flexibility into their grantmaking and policies, deepened collaboration with fellow foundations and state agencies and designed innovative strategies to create positive outcomes for Michigan communities. 

Today we are taking a look back at stories that resonated with us and leadership that moved us – just some examples from the many ways Michigan philanthropy has been leading through the crisis – and ongoing learning and connection opportunities for you and your team.


  • Remote learning: In April, The Skillman Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) joined the Connected Futures partnership, a cross-sector collaborative that collectively raised $23 million to provide Detroit Public Schools Community District students with tablets and internet access so they could engage in remote learning. Additionally, CMF members DTE Energy Foundation, The Skillman Foundation and Quicken Loans Community Fund joined other funders to form the Tech Fund for Detroit Students to bridge the digital divide for charter school and high-need private school students in the city.

  • Return to learn: As the 2020-2021 school year began, the Hillsdale County Community Foundation provided funding to the Hillsdale County Intermediate School District to cover the cost of thermometers, hand sanitizer, sanitizing stations, cleaning supplies and masks to ensure both staff and students could return to a healthy environment. In May 2020, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation granted $130,000 to CMF to help state health and education leaders create a roadmap for reopening Michigan’s K-12 schools. In February, Governor Gretchen Whitmer created the Student Recovery Council to provide guidance and recommendations to ensure that students are prepared to return to in-person learning. Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation, CMF trustee and co-chair of CMF’s Michigan Philanthropy COVID-19 Working Group and Faye Nelson, director of Michigan programs at WKKF serve on the council.

Racial Equity

  • Community support: To continue to develop and deepen relationships, share resources and support the community collectively during this crisis, Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Kalamazoo launched its Virtual Healing Project. Meanwhile, the McGregor Fund announced $1.2 million in grants focused on advancing racial equity and community support in Detroit.

  • Systemic change: Dr. Marijata Daniel-Echols, program officer at WKKF, was appointed to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities to help address COVID-related issues affecting communities of color. 


  • Testing & PPE: Several CMF members have engaged in providing testing and personal protection equipment (PPE) to community members across the state. ACCESS provided drive-through testing for healthcare and emergency response professionals with support from WKKF. Meanwhile, The Skillman Foundation granted $38,000 to provide Detroit nonprofit workers with masks.

  • Mental health: The Michigan Health Endowment Fund provided funds for online therapy services to students in Manistee and awarded grants to 61 Michigan providers and safety net organizations to ramp up telehealth efforts. Four CMF members partnered with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network to form the Detroit COVID-19 Therapy Collaborative to provide youth and families with virtual mental health support.

  • Vaccine distribution: The Saginaw Community Foundation partnered with several organizations to create a workgroup that supports access to and education on COVID-19 vaccines to those who are considered to be most at risk of being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The Mott Foundation awarded a grant to provide meals to health care workers and volunteers at Genesee County Health Department COVID-19 vaccine sites. The Health Fund partnered with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Aging and Adult Services Agency to create a virtual training platform that offers informational sessions and education on how to access vaccines.

Small Business Support

  • Women-owned businesses: Michigan Women Forward (MWF) partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to create the Michigan Entrepreneurs Resilience Fund to help entrepreneurs and small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 recover from the outbreak. MWF also launched the COVID-19 Entrepreneurship Program to connect Michigan women entrepreneurs who are facing challenges because of the pandemic with experts and contract workers to support their businesses.

  • Regional support: The Regional Resiliency Program was launched with initial support from the Consumers Energy Foundation. Through the support of Consumers and several other CMF members more than $500,000 has been provided to over 200 small businesses in Northern Michigan enabling them to respond to urgent needs and shifts due to the pandemic. Other CMF members supporting this work include: DTE Energy Foundation, Frey Foundation, Leelanau Township Community Foundation, Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Manistee County Community Foundation, Hagerty, ITC and the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation. Meanwhile, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County hired a local consultant to provide support and resources to businesses owned by people of color and women. The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation also provided its Short-Term Cash Flow Loan Program to provide support in Washtenaw County amid the pandemic.

Over the course of the last year, you have shared your stories with us of response and relief efforts, learning journeys and challenges you’re turning into opportunities. These highlights are just a sampling of the critical work you’re leading. 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.

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