March 2, 2020

Monday, March 2, 2020

New Accountability Initiatives Announced in .ORG Domain Deal

There are new developments in the sale of the .ORG domain.

As CMF reported, at the end of 2019 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) reached an agreement with Ethos Capital, a private equity firm, under which Ethos Capital would acquire Public Interest Registry (PIR), the company that owns the .ORG domain.

The sale raised concerns, especially among the nonprofit sector due to the possibility of domain price increases and the threat of censorship. The sale poses a potential financial burden to small nonprofits and our sector risks losing control of its .ORG brand value.

A growing online petition at SaveDotOrg opposing the sale and an organized protest outside of ICANN’s Los Angeles office last month has put a spotlight on the issue, leading to continued conversation.

Now, Ethos Capital has announced new accountability initiatives in an effort to address the concerns raised by the public.

Highlights include:

  • Affordability of .ORG domain names: Ethos Capital says fees charged for initial or renewal registration of a .ORG domain name will not increase by more than 10% per year on average for eight years from the start of the current registry agreement.

  • .ORG Stewardship Council: According to Ethos Capital, the .ORG Stewardship Council will have authority to provide independent advice and have the right to veto changes proposed by PIR to policies regarding censorship and freedom of expression and the use of .ORG registrant and user data. The council will provide the PIR Board with independent strategic advice and recommendations in order to help the PIR Board assess how it can promote values that serve the mission-driven goals of the .ORG community.

“We have been listening closely to stakeholder feedback – both positive and negative – and have been working diligently to address these specific issues head on,” Erik Brooks, founder and CEO of Ethos Capital said in a press release. “A primary request we heard from the .ORG community was for strong enforceability measures to ensure that Ethos would be held accountable to its promises. We are taking these actions to show that we stand firmly behind the commitments we’ve made – and most importantly – behind the registrants and users who have made .ORG the incredible domain it is today.” 

Last week in an op-ed in The Nonprofit Times, the leaders of NTEN and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in California said the initiatives fail to adequately meet the needs of the nonprofit sector. The authors of the op-ed questioned the effectiveness of the Stewardship Council and validity of the affordability guarantee.

As for the purchase of the .ORG domain, ICANN has extended the deadline to receive additional information from PIR about the transaction to March 20.

Want more?

Read the full announcement from Ethos Capital.

Read the op-ed “.ORG Still Wouldn’t Be Safe.”






Educators Share Recommendations to Address Our State’s Teacher Shortage

A new report is sharing insights from educators on potential solutions to address Michigan’s teacher shortage.

According to the report, conducted by Public Policy Associates (PPA) on behalf of the Michigan Education Association (MEA), AFT Michigan and Middle Cities Education Association, the number of teaching certificates issued dropped by 24% from the 2013-2014 school year to the 2017-2018 school year.

The report also highlights the lack of diversity in the profession, with only 6% of the state’s teachers identifying as African American compared to 18% of students; Latinx teachers only comprise 1% of the teacher population compared to 8% of the state’s students.

In addition to these challenges, the report states in part: “Educator shortages are exacerbated by many Michigan school districts’ reliance on long-term substitutes as well as acute shortages of daily substitutes. All of this has strained districts’ capacity to grow and sustain a stable educator workforce that serves all students and families across Michigan.”

Over 120 teachers and other stakeholders participated in small statewide groups to recommend solutions.

Key recommendations include:

  • Creating incentives or recruiting bonuses for new educators or those early in their careers.

  • Increasing support staff.

  • Providing equitable funding for school districts.

  • Reducing the use of standardized tests for teacher evaluations.

  • Reducing financial barriers for certification and re-certification.

“We appreciate the fine work done by the study’s partners – MEA, AFT Michigan and Middle Cities Education Association – as well as the consulting work of Public Policy Associates,” Dr. Michael Rice, Michigan state superintendent said in a press release. “The work shines a light on a major challenge in Michigan public education, namely, a substantial teacher shortage that has hurt public schools and reduced support for our children.”

Some educators called upon the state Legislature to take these recommendations into consideration.

“Too often, legislators think they know how to run a classroom just because they were once a student,” Heather Gauck, a special education teacher in Grand Rapids said at a recent news conference. “They need to take the time to listen to frontline educators before implementing policy.”

PPA’s report cites data from Launch Michigan’s 2019 statewide educator survey.

As CMF reported, Launch Michigan’s survey of more than 16,000 Michigan teachers, administrators and educational support professionals found that only 25% of participants would recommend teaching as a profession and 12% were considering leaving teaching in the next few years.

PPA’s report addresses some of these issues with its set of recommendations.

In December, Launch Michigan released its first set of statewide education policy recommendations, which included the creation of an equity fund to provide additional funding for students living in poverty and a literacy fund to help Michigan students read on grade level.

“We’re pleased that the PPA report lists steps and builds upon what we heard from educators last year,” Adam Zemke, president of Launch Michigan said. “These are important to identify because they speak to the heart of why we need to improve conditions for educators in our schools. That was something we heard loud and clear in the survey: We have a significant attraction and retention problem for educators in our schools and improving conditions for all teachers is vital to keeping them in the profession.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s 2021 budget proposal includes line items to increase teacher support and to fund recruitment of new teachers.

“We are committed to working with all interested parties to rebuild a profession that continues to be among the most honorable in our society, but which has been badly undermined and denigrated over the last half decade,” Rice said.

Want more?

Read PPA’s report.

Check out Launch Michigan’s educator survey and the group’s first set of statewide recommendations.






Committee Approves Michigan’s Proposed PFAS Rules

Draft rules limiting PFAS in Michigan drinking water were approved by the state’s Environmental Rules Review Committee (ERRC) late last week.

PFAS are a group of emerging and potentially harmful contaminants used in thousands of applications globally including firefighting foam, food packaging and many other consumer products.

According to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) the proposed rules will amend current rules to provide provisions that reduce exposure to seven PFAS compounds in drinking water. Approximately 2,700 water supplies in Michigan will be covered under the new rules. Once finalized, the rules would establish drinking water standards, sampling requirements, public notification requirements and laboratory certification criteria. 

“Governor Whitmer has made clean drinking water for all Michiganders a top priority in this administration and EGLE would like to thank the members of the ERRC for moving these important drinking water standards forward,” Liesl Clark, director of EGLE said. “The ERRC represents both environmental and business stakeholders and today’s vote shows there is broad support for rules that protect Michiganders from contaminants in their drinking water.”

The draft rules were initially presented to the ERRC last fall which led the committee to move forward with a public hearing process.

During the public comment period in December, CMF’s Public Policy Committee passed a resolution recommending the adoption of standards to protect and improve the health of people and their communities against exposure to PFAS contaminants. As a result, CMF staff responded to the state’s requests for public comment on PFAS standards.

CMF’s letter on behalf of our membership stated in part, “We believe that appropriate drinking water standards coupled with timely and accurate public notification, as well as the focus on long-term solutions to address water contaminants, will go a long way in supporting the health and well-being of Michigan’s residents and our environment. As partners, we will continue to raise awareness about the negative environmental consequences and public health effects of PFAS.”

Later this month, the Green and Blue Network (GBN), a CMF affinity group, is hosting a learning opportunity for funders to hear from our state’s senior leaders about the most pressing environmental and public health concerns, including PFAS.

“Liesl Clark, director of EGLE will provide the latest in the state’s battle to get ahead of the growing PFAS crisis. She will be one of many speakers, including representatives from MDARD, MDNR, Michigan Environmental Council, the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition and the Nature Conservancy at the Green and Blue Network’s meeting. We invite all CMF members to join us in this discussion,” Tim Eder, co-chair of GBN and program officer, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation said.

CMF will continue to work with the GBN to identify learning opportunities for CMF members on the impact of PFAS.

The draft rules now move forward in the rulemaking process for review by the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules and then on to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

 The final rules could be in place as early as April.

Want more?

Join the conversation with GBN and other CMF members at the Green and Blue Network Convening on March 25 in East Lansing.







Walters Family Foundation focuses on priorities to conserve the environment, advance economic vitality

The Walters Family Foundation is sharing highlights of its recent work, including several multi-year initiatives that align with the foundation’s priorities to conserve the natural environment, advance economic vitality and empower people to reach their full potential through innovative learning initiatives.

The foundation provided a grant to Detroit University Prep’s first-ever zoology program. Through this work, Detroit University Prep partnered with the Detroit Zoological Society and Belle Isle Aquarium to create an immersive Zoology and Aquarium Studies curriculum that prepares students for college and professions in the natural sciences.

The foundation also provided funding for Eastern Market Corporation’s Metro Food Accelerator. The accelerator is a 15,000 square foot facility divided into ready-to-occupy suites for emerging food businesses. This comprehensive eco-system supports food entrepreneurs by providing long-term space at below-market rental rates and opportunities for rapid expansion —barriers that prevented many of these small businesses from succeeding in the past.

These are just two examples of the work that emerged from the foundation after they welcomed a new director, Libby Levy.

“I’m excited to implement the family’s vision for the foundation and I look forward to working with organizations that are improving the environment and empowering individuals,” Levy said.

Moving forward, Levy said the foundation is planning to expand its reach to more communities across the state to “build relationships with impactful organizations that are inspiring change across Michigan.” 

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