We're sharing the latest updates, best practices and learning opportunities emerging from Michigan philanthropy.
Catalyzing Collaboration to Ensure Nonprofits Have Equitable Access to Capital
The Small Business Association (SBA) is still accepting applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from participating lenders one week after resuming the program but it’s unclear how long that funding will last.
The PPP, funded through the CARES Act, provides forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofits that keep their employees on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. The first round of funding, made available on April 3, highlighted some of the barriers facing nonprofits in accessing this capital. Most small and mid-sized nonprofits don’t have lines of credit or existing relationships with banks which slowed or complicated the loan process, among other factors. Ahead of the release of a second round of funding last week, CMF, in partnership with the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM), launched a focused effort to ensure nonprofits in need are able to access critical support.
“Michigan’s economic recovery depends on nonprofits and small businesses accessing the capital they need to weather this storm,” Donna Murray-Brown, president and CEO of MNA said. “We are grateful to the Council of Michigan Foundations and the Small Business Association of Michigan for working together with Michigan Nonprofit Association to ensure Michigan gets its fair share of government assistance programs provided in the CARES Act. By joining forces, we were able to build awareness and provide technical assistance about the PPP program.”
A number of CMF members are joining in a strategic rapid response effort to support MNA’s efforts to increase access to funding. MNA is standing up new resources and services that will help charitable nonprofits effectively explore the next wave of funding through the PPP. CMF has encouraged members to reach out to their nonprofit partners in need to alert them of the available federal support and tools to navigate the loan process. MNA shares that effective messaging to reach nonprofits in need is crucial so they are also partnering with New Michigan Media (NMM) to help amplify communications.
“NMM is the network of ethnic and minority media in the state," Murray-Brown said. "Given that small businesses and nonprofits are the heart of minority communities, and are most in danger of going out of business or reducing services during this crisis, NMM has worked tirelessly to increase awareness and knowledge of the PPP to minority-owned businesses in the state.”
An important component of the second round of PPP funding included the allocation of $60 billion – out of the $310 billion total package – for community banks and smaller lenders, including community development financial institutions (CDFIs).
In Nonprofit Quarterly, Joe Neri, CEO of IFF, a Chicago-based CDFI which serves Michigan wrote about the challenges with the loan process through the lens of racial equity, calling for financial institutions to step up and ensure access for new clients and businesses owned by people of color.
Neri explains that IFF made departures from its normal decision making by participating in the “working loan” PPP program.
“By asking ourselves who would be harmed by staying away from PPP, we realized that the very places we serve—smaller nonprofits, many of which are led by people of color—would be most hurt because they would have the most difficulty with the traditional banking system. We decided we had to promote the Paycheck Protection Program in some way,” Neri wrote.
One of the tools MNA has developed to help nonprofits is the Navigator Tool which mirrors the PPP application and provides additional guidance including a fact sheet, examples and frequently asked questions. Users can export their responses as a reference to facilitate the completion of the formal application submitted to their lender of choice.
In addition to promoting the PPP among nonprofit partners and working to support engagement through the collaboration of MNA, CMF and SBAM, several CMF members around the state have launched nonprofit loan programs to help fill gaps.
Through the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek Unlimited has established a $250,000 emergency microgrant fund for small businesses and nonprofits. The organization shares that priority will be given to nonprofits whose mission serves children, women and people of color.
The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation launched its Short-term Cash Flow Loan Program for local nonprofits. The loans, up to $50,000 for each organization, focus on helping nonprofits meet up to 180 days of operational cash needs “to bridge nonprofit operations through this crisis and to reliable revenue sources.”
The Bay Area Community Foundation recently launched a Nonprofit Operating Support Loan Program for nonprofits in Bay and Arenac counties. The two-year loans will have 0% for the first year and 1% the year after with loans up to $20,000 to each nonprofit.
Other community foundations throughout the state are also exploring cash flow loans for local nonprofits, including leveraging Program Related Investments (PRIs). CMF invites members to share ways they are supporting nonprofits and small businesses at this time, please connect with us.
Access MNA’s PPP Navigator Tool.
Senior Care Providers: Intergenerational Support is Crucial for the Health and Well-Being of All
As the pandemic continues, senior care facilities and nonprofits serving aging populations are adapting in new and innovative ways to continue supporting this vulnerable population.
“From the onset of this unprecedented pandemic, we have experienced significant challenges as never before,” Lynn Alexander, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan Foundation, a CMF member, said. “Our challenges include the availability of personal protection equipment (PPE); supporting our front-line staff and residents; access to reliable and timely testing; and funding to offset a decline in occupancy and a steep increase in expenditures.”
Agencies and organizations supporting the aging population also face a unique set of challenges particularly around ageism.
“This virus really highlights the value our society holds on being young and showcases how it discards our older adults,” Wendy Brightman, president, United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) Foundation, a CMF member said. “Ageism marginalizes and excludes older adults. These attitudes lead to the marginalization of older people within our communities and have negative impacts on their health and well-being.”
Senior care facilities and organizations supporting aging populations recognize that the pandemic will have a significant impact on the population long term.
“Many seniors have complex care needs that require medical attention and are not COVID-19 related,” Vincent Tilford, executive director, Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation, CMF board member and chair of CMF’s Michigan Grantmakers in Aging (MGIA) Affinity Group said. “People in general, not just seniors, are cut off from medical care during this emergency because either they are afraid of the virus infecting them and/or their health providers are unable to provide in-patient services.”
While organizations and care providers navigate this landscape, they have stepped up efforts and adapted their work to continue supporting Michigan’s aging populations.
UMRC has worked to comply with social distancing and protection guidelines from experts and the monitoring of staff and residents for symptoms, among other precautions. The Hannan House which houses the Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation has transitioned to virtual and teleservices for seniors, including lifelong learning classes and wellness check-ins.
With donor support, UMRC raised over $850,000 to support the emergent needs of direct care workers by providing, food, utility payments, transportation, health care costs and other necessities. With a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, they have also provided workers with telehealth services.
UMRC has additionally launched a campaign to ensure workers are recognized for their efforts during this crisis. “With the unanimous support of our board, we launched the Not All Heroes Wear Capes Campaign to support the direct care workers who bravely walk toward the crisis every day,” Brightman said. The campaign has so far highlighted workers including Jennifer Shores, director of nursing at UMRC’s Kresge Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center and Danny Smith, a 29-year veteran of the Environmental Services team at UMRC’s Chelsea campus.
With Michigan’s changing landscape, senior care providers and funders share that the needs of the aging population will continue to grow during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Philanthropy plays an important role in mitigating those challenges.
“Seniors are outliving their financial nest eggs while co-pays and insurance premiums are dramatically increasing,” Alexander said. “These factors add up to placing our society in a position of neglecting the very citizens who helped to make America what it is today. As philanthropists we have the capability to provide solutions to this situation.”
While funders work to support vulnerable populations across the state, intergenerational support is crucial for the health and well-being of all Michiganders.
“As we make investments in our society to improve economic, health and other desired outcomes, we should always consider, if possible, how our grants can make a difference across generations,” Tilford said.
“Let’s think intergenerationally and support all of Michiganders, including our elders,” Brightman said.
Read UMRC’s Not All Heroes Wear Capes campaign blog posts.
ICANN Board Halts Deal to Sell .ORG Domain to Private Equity Firm
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board has announced that it’s rejecting the proposed deal with Ethos Capital, a private equity firm, to acquire Public Interest Registry (PIR), the company that owns the .ORG domain.
The potential sale has been under scrutiny for months as concerns were raised, especially among the nonprofit sector, about the possibility of domain price increases and the threat of censorship. The sale posed a potential financial burden to small nonprofits along with the risk of our sector losing control of its .ORG brand value.
In a statement released on Thursday, ICANN stated in part: “The board was presented with a unique and complex situation – impacting one of the largest registries with more than 10.5 million domain names registered. After completing its evaluation, the ICANN Board finds that the public interest is better served in withholding consent as a result of various factors that create unacceptable uncertainty over the future of the third-largest gTLD (generic top-level domains) registry.”
ICANN’s decision comes after months of opposition to the sale as lawmakers, organizations and agencies around the country expressed concerns. Nearly 27,000 people and 871 organizations signed on to the online petition, SaveDotOrg, formally opposing the sale.
CMF was among those voices. Our Public Policy Committee approved a resolution opposing the sale and calling for ICANN to “maintain the ownership of the .ORG domain within the nonprofit sector to ensure proceeds support nonprofits and so the .ORG domain is able to maintain the brand and its integrity.”
SaveDotOrg shared a message on Thursday thanking supporters for helping to elevate this issue, though cautioning that reliable ongoing stewardship of the domain will be necessary.
“This is not the final step needed for protecting the .ORG domain. ICANN must now open a public process for bids to find a new home for the .ORG domain. ICANN has established processes and criteria that outline how to hold a reassignment process. We look forward to seeing a competitive process and are eager to support the participation in that process by the global nonprofit community.”
New MI Data Shows Decrease in Child Poverty
The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) recently released its annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, highlighting key data on the well-being of Michigan’s children and presenting policy recommendations to improve conditions for youth.
Kids Count highlights 16 child well-being indicators in four categories: economic security, education, family and community, and health and safety. Data is presented at three levels: statewide, for each of Michigan’s 83 counties and by region.
“Kids across the state are full of promise and potential, and policymakers need to listen to the data and make sound policy decisions to make sure they all thrive,” Kelsey Perdue, Kids Count in Michigan project director, MLPP said in a press release. “The policy and funding needs of Michigan kids will be more important than ever in the months ahead as the Legislature may have to make substantial cuts to the state budget while also helping distribute more than $3 billion in federal COVID relief for the state.”
Some key data profiles include:
Economic security: One in five Michigan children live in poverty, however, the poverty rate decreased from 23.4% in 2010 to 19.3% in 2018.
Education: 81.4% of Michigan students graduate on time, a 7.2% increase from 2010.
Food access: In the 2018-19 school year, half of all Michigan kids received free or reduced-price lunch, while nearly 25% received food assistance benefits.
Healthcare: 97% of Michigan kids have health coverage.
Internet access: 87.7% of Michigan children have access to the internet, with the lowest rates of access in rural areas.
Based on public feedback, MLPP altered its county-by-county ranking system for each data point and replaced it with a color code showing trends for each county: green for improvement, yellow for little or no change and red for worsening.
To improve outcomes and opportunities for children, MLPP presented policy recommendations for the Michigan Legislature.
Make expungement of juvenile offenses more accessible and affordable.
Expand paid parental and sick leave for working parents and guardians.
Create a weighted school funding system to better serve students living in poverty, English language learners and students who have special needs.
Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit from 6% to 20% to allow families more funds to pay for necessities.
MLPP cites key policy achievements as a result of Kids Count data.
“The Kids Count data is intended to be an advocacy tool as well as an informational one, and the project achieved several big wins over the past year,” Perdue said. “We helped successfully pass ‘Raise the Age’ to stop automatically treating all justice-involved 17-year-olds as adults. With criminal justice reform, key 2020 budget investments and other important policy decisions, lawmakers have shown that they can put political differences aside to work for common sense and the common good.”