May 10, 2021

Monday, May 10, 2021

Foundations Collaborate to Advance Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy 

The Kresge Foundation and the Ford Foundation are working with several other foundations across the country to advance disability inclusion.

Through the Disability & Philanthropy Forum several foundations joined the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy to work together to advance disability inclusion. 

Convened by the presidents of the Ford and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations, the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy consists of 17 foundations, including The Kresge Foundation, who have committed to work together to advance inclusion.  

The council shares: “Each foundation is at a different stage of its learning journey toward greater inclusion of people with disabilities both internally and in grantmaking, and all are committed to share our learning. The focus of the council’s collective action is the philanthropic sector, but our aspiration is that as our sector becomes more equitable, we will influence society to dismantle structural ableism and move toward equity.”

The council’s long-term vision is to integrate disability rights and justice within the philanthropic sector through implementing disability-inclusive policies and practices, increasing representation in philanthropy by having more individuals who are disabled work as staff and board members and focusing on disability inclusive grantmaking. 

Phyllis Meadows, senior fellow, health programming, at the Kresge Foundation has been working with the Presidents’ Council. 

Meadows shared that Kresge has engaged all critical areas within the organization to organize and implement a plan to ensure that inclusion is being addressed in all areas of operations.  

“This is an important as a first step, to review whether there is language, processes, policies and tools that will enhance the inclusion of our future and current grantees and partners,” Meadows said. 

Through the Presidents’ Council, foundations have also signed onto a pledge to commit to this work. 

The Disability Inclusion Pledge recognizes that ableism is a barrier to equity and inclusion, and foundations who have signed the pledge will commit to advancing systemic change within their organizations regarding disability inclusion. 

“The pledge simply reinforces our commitment to assuring that we are taking action, and to the best of our ability - we are seeking to strengthen our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts by ongoing assessment and implementation of steps to improve access and opportunities for those with disabilities,” Meadows said. 

The council also supports the Disability Inclusion Fund, a $10 million five-year fund that supports U.S. groups run by and for people who are disabled to lead transformational change. 

“Grantmaking to organizations led by individuals with disabilities and those that support populations and groups with disabilities represent only a small percentage of the investments that foundations have made over the years.

There are opportunities not only to support leadership but to also be more intentional about serving the broad range of disabilities that exist in our society,” Meadows told CMF. 

The objectives of the fund include: 

•    Strengthening the disability community/movement by building the power of representative organizations and elevating the voices of disabled people within public life.

•    Boosting the capacity of disability justice groups to fundraise, communicate a more unified narrative and other priorities as determined by the group’s advisors.

•    Building bridges between disability justice groups to learn from one another, complement and strengthen advocacy and mobilizing approaches.

•    Promoting collaboration and partnership between disability-led organizations and “mainstream” organizations.

•    Supporting disability inclusion in philanthropy with collaborative learning around programmatic and operational inclusion.

Meadows shared that in many ways the grantmaking process is fashioned to those who are able-bodied. 

“Our general lack of awareness and often the slant towards ableism or the able-bodied, sometimes cloud our thinking about the disparities we might unintentionally foster through our decisions about who, what and where we invest. At the same time, the shining star is that if we look closely at our grantmaking processes, that technology is enabling us to expand our reach when there are access barriers, and that new laws that apply to the build environment, require that we take those with physical disabilities into account,” Meadows said. 

Want more?

Learn more about the President’s Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. 

Learn more about The Disability and Inclusion Pledge. 



Supporting Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in Michigan 

Every six hours someone in Michigan dies by suicide, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). A devastating statistic and one that organizations, the state and philanthropy are working to address through the support and implementation of life-saving programs and services. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has partnered with CMF members the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Children’s Foundation and the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation to establish the Suicide Prevention Support for Health Care Clinics Working with Michigan’s Health-Disparate Populations initiative. 

The organizations recently announced funding to nine organizations aimed at assisting healthcare clinicians and behavioral health specialists with developing and implementing evidence-based and sustainable programming focused on decreasing the rate of suicide attempts and deaths by identifying children or adults who may be at risk.

“This collective funding opportunity was led by dedicated grant partners across the state and awarded to exemplary organizations delivering access to resources and interventions to those at risk of suicide,” Audrey Harvey, executive director and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation said in an article. “The past year alone has illustrated the need for increased support of behavioral health and patient safety, and this initiative aims most importantly to reduce the number of attempts and the unfortunate lives lost due to suicide.”

According to an article, organizations whose work focuses on supporting populations experiencing health disparities due to income, age, gender identity and ethnic and racial characteristics were encouraged to apply for funding.

“The Health Fund is excited to support a range of organizations providing direct care for Michiganders who are at an increased risk of death by suicide. The diverse set of projects in this initiative reflect the diverse set of problems our state faces in the fight against suicide and we are pleased to be supporting the unique solutions our communities will find,” Dana Chesla-Hughes, program manager at the Health Fund said in an article. 

The state has increased its efforts in addressing suicide rates with the guidance of the Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission, a group that was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. The commission recently released the Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission Initial Report that provides recommendations on how to reduce the suicide rate. 

The report highlights five key suicide prevention recommendations: 

•    Minimizing risk for suicidal behavior by promoting safe environments, resiliency and connectedness.

•    Increasing and expanding access to care to support those at risk.

•    Improving suicide prevention training and education.

•    Implementing best practices in suicide prevention for health care systems.

•    Enhancing suicide specific data collection and systems.

Want more?

Read the full report.

Connect with CMF’s Health Funders Affinity Group.



Community Policing Innovation Initiative Announces Support for Pilot Sites

The Community Policing Innovations Initiative, supported by three CMF members, has announced the first round of grants to police departments and organizations in Southeast Michigan.

The Community Policing Innovations Initiative which is aimed at addressing issues in police practices, systems and services was established with support from CMF members the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Hudson-Webber Foundation and Ballmer Group, as well as Oakland County.

CFSEM announced last week that it granted awards to police departments and other organizations in five Metro Detroit communities through the initiative. 

“To catalyze local investment and respond to local needs, the Community Foundation and the Hudson-Webber Foundation came together to establish the Community Policing Innovations Initiative,” said Mariam Noland, president of CFSEM said in a press release. “We are pleased that Ballmer Group and Oakland County have also made substantial contributions to support this initiative, which provides technical assistance tailored to each community based on their specific needs. Our goal is that the first communities receiving support can serve as examples to others in southeast Michigan and beyond.”

The goal for the initiative is to provide the guidance and support necessary for local communities in partnership with local law enforcement, to develop community-driven, substantive and pragmatic changes in the way that policing and public safety services are provided.

According to a CFSEM press release, the initiative which is in its pilot phase will focus on five areas of police reform. 

“The Hudson-Webber Foundation’s strategic vision and approach has been to focus investments in organizations, programs and initiatives that help achieve sustainable, broad-based prosperity in the city of Detroit,” Melanca Clark, president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation and CMF trustee said.

Efforts to transform policing include:

1.    Use of Force: Address current use of force policies and directly engage the community so that police policies and practices better represent the needs of the community by their agents of public safety.

2.    Officer Accountability: Re-imagine a police officer contract, adopt new discipline process/matrices, provide training and/or retraining mechanisms that would allow for both accountability from the police after problematic performance and greater trust with the community.

3.    Disparate Enforcement and Treatment: Outline a program for collecting and analyzing data on police stops, search and/ or arrests to determine whether certain types of activities are having an unwanted disparate impact, and/or they may outline the development of policies and training geared toward raising awareness of subconscious or implicit biases.

4.    Re-imagining Public Safety: Develop thoughtful collaboration between police and social service agencies to begin a conversation about how to re-align the response method for calls for service where mental health, trauma, or youth may be involved to include or collaborate with city/community public health or social service programs.

5.    Truth and Reconciliation: Consider police academy or departmental training that offers regional/ community history, implicit bias training, and real-world scenario-based de-escalation training all that include community participation as educators, scenario role players and restorative justice circle participants.

The organizations in southeast Michigan selected for the pilot phase include: 

•    Canton Township Police Department and its Canton Coalition for Inclusive Communities.

•    Detroit Police Department.

•    East Downtown Dearborn Development Authority and Black Legacy Advancement Coalition.

•    Inkster Police Department.

•    Beloved Community Initiative and First AME Church of Farmington Hills.

“Addressing racial inequity and structural barriers to opportunity is one of our guiding principles for achieving that objective, which includes a clear focus on addressing the severe and entrenched problems within the criminal justice system that disproportionately affect communities of color,” Clark said.

News type: