March 8, 2021

Monday, March 8, 2021

Partnerships at Work: Supporting Equitable Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

A partnership with the Saginaw Community Foundation (SCF), Saginaw County Health Department (SCHD) and several other organizations has resulted in the creation of the Health and Community Connected (HCC) Workgroup, which is aimed at improving community health. 

The workgroup is supporting access and education of COVID-19 vaccines to those who are considered to be most at risk of being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

To inform their efforts the workgroup is utilizing the Socially Vulnerable Index (SVI), which is a “tool that uses census data to identify and map places where a community may have more difficulty preventing human suffering and financial loss in a disaster.”

According to the SVI, factors contributing to social vulnerability may include individuals who earn wages below the poverty level, individuals who have a disability, senior citizens, race and ethnicity, household composition and individuals without access to reliable transportation, among others. 

According to the Saginaw County Health Department, nearly 10% of the population of Saginaw County is considered “socially vulnerable."

To ensure equitable access to the vaccine, SCF and SCHD have allocated $60,000 to increase education and awareness building of COVID-19 vaccines in the community. The funding will support a media campaign with messaging about the vaccine that will be shared on the radio, through the newspaper, education sessions and materials and social media posts.

“The Saginaw Community Foundation, as a member of the Health and Community Connected Workgroup and a financial supporter of the Saginaw County Health Department’s outreach and awareness campaign, is confident in the approach the health department has outlined to address the health and wellness of all Saginaw County residents in the most efficient way to deliver services during this critical and sensitive time,” Reneé Johnston, president and CEO, Saginaw Community Foundation and CMF trustee said.

The HCC includes the following organizations:

•    Saginaw Community Foundation
•    Saginaw County Health Department 
•    NAACP Saginaw Branch
•    Saginaw African American Pastors 
•    St. Joes Catholic Church
•    Covenant Hospital
•    Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital
•    Great Lakes Bay Health Centers
•    Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services 

Each organization in the HCC will lead specific functions to support access and awareness to the vaccine. 

•    Education: NAACP will share messaging about the vaccines through various channels. Church leaders are also planning to share information from the health department with parishioners. 
•    Transportation: SCHD partnered with the Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services to provide free transportation for residents of Saginaw to vaccination sites.
•    Vaccine Distribution Locations: Churches will be selected by the Saginaw African American Pastors organization to serve as vaccination sites.
•    Inclusive Outreach: Multilingual representatives will be available to share information over the phone with community members.

“The Saginaw County Health Department has taken the appropriate steps of working closely with and collaborating with other Saginaw County health institutions and community partners, as well as consulting with minority leaders and pastors,” Johnston said. “Together, these groups have provided excellent guidance on outlining a COVID-19 vaccination plan.” 

Last week, SCHD received 11,190 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The health department continues to work to administer vaccines as the state expands eligibility this month to adults ages 50 and older.

According to the SCHD vaccine update, the expansion adds another 40,000 people who are eligible to receive the vaccine in the county.

Want more?

Read more about HCC



Mental Health Support Amid the Pandemic

This week marks a year since the pandemic unfolded in Michigan, changing all of our lives in different yet dramatic ways. As the pandemic continues so do the impacts of trauma, loss, social isolation, stress and more. 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in the pandemic. 

The Ethel & James Flinn Foundation which is focused on improving the quality, scope and delivery of mental health services in Michigan allocated its entire grantmaking budget in 2020 to COVID-19 emergency response efforts to meet the increased need.

Andrea Cole, executive director and CEO of the Flinn Foundation, said one example of this work is the 24/7 free virtual therapy platform the foundation supported in 2020 which provided services to 3,000 people in just a few short months. 

“90% of people who utilized the services were African American and a large percentage of youth used the services,” Cole said. “We were able to reach African American men which was very wonderful considering the access issue that was exacerbated by the pandemic.”

The virtual therapy program was supported by the Flinn Foundation in partnership with three other CMF members, The Skillman Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and Michigan Health Endowment Fund, along with the Detroit-Wayne Integrated Health Services (DWIHN).

Nearly 10,000 people have visited the platform.

“As the pandemic has been prolonged, a couple of funders extended support for the platform,” Cole said. “It has been very successful in terms of increasing access to behavioral health services.” 

The virtual therapy program was one of the many collaborative efforts the Flinn Foundation has engaged in to increase access to mental health support. 

In the early days of the pandemic, the Flinn Foundation partnered with the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Metro Health Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, to provide rapid response safety net telehealth initiative grants. 

Cole said it was a statewide ramp-up for safety net providers to be able to expand their telehealth services. 

“We invited the organizations in Southeast Michigan that we work with, which are primarily safety net providers. They had the flexibility to either support telehealth infrastructure or to spend those dollars on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), whatever they needed to provide services in this environment,” Cole said. 

Cole shared that at the heart of the foundation’s response efforts has been deep collaboration, noting how essential partnerships and flexibility are, especially during a crisis. 

“Other funders can think about how these efforts intersect and about collaborating with other funders in a more flexible way,” Cole said. “We understand the connection and importance of coming together and moving work forward that benefits all of us.”

Want more?

Read more about The Flinn Foundation’s work





Michigan Municipal League Foundation Administers Small Business Relief Initiative

Content excerpted and adapted from a press release.

Nearly 700 small businesses across Michigan have been awarded $10 million in grants through the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced last week. The program is administered by the Michigan Municipal League (MML) Foundation, a CMF member, and provides relief for small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MEDC selected the MML Foundation as the single, statewide grant administrator for the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative. MML Foundation reviewed submitted applications from all 10 prosperity regions across the state. Helen Johnson, president of the MML Foundation said they wanted to take on this effort because small, local businesses are essential to building and sustaining community wealth.

“The foundation believes that no one should be left behind in our communities,” Johnson said. “Community wealth building is about enhancing the human experience for everyone, which includes working to ensure Michiganders have social and economic security. This grant helped small businesses retain jobs by supporting more than 650 businesses and their employees from all corners of the state. We are proud to be part of this initiative and recognize that our work is not done. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the state and other allies to deepen and expand efforts to create access to community wealth building opportunities.”

The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative utilized $10 million in federal U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CARES Act funding to provide economic assistance to small businesses across Michigan. Michigan’s small businesses that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic were able to apply for grants of up to $15,000 through the program.

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